The Private Landlord Guidelines

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landlord tenant

The amount of private renters doubles in a decade

According to the Family Resources Survey, Department for Work and Pensions, the proportion of 35-54 year olds who live as private tenants has almost doubled since 2006-2007. Renting among this age group is more likely to be privately rented from a landlord, than a council or housing association.

With the increase of renters and popularity of private landlords, disputes are rising. If you are having issues with a tenant, you have legal rights as a landlord. Taking preventative measures will enable you to avoid potential risks in the future. Below are some steps you can take to tackle common problems with tenants.

Run a background check: Making sure you run an appropriate check on tenants before they move in ensures any red flags are brought up, to help you avoid problematic individuals. Check the tenants Right to Rent, obtain references from their previous landlord or agency, and conduct a credit check.  

Check your tenancy agreement: Have the tenancy agreement checked by a solicitor before the tenancy commences. We would ensure your rights as a landlord are fully protected. You may need to rely upon the tenancy agreement at a later date if any problems arise.

Maintain an up to date inventory: Making sure you have an up to date inventory is vital if tenants cause any damage to the property. It is also important to have the right type of insurance when letting furnished properties.

The Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme: Under the tenancy deposit protection legislation, landlord and agents are required to protect deposits in one of three government approved schemes.  If tenants do not keep to the terms of the tenancy agreement you are entitled to make deductions from the deposit to cover breakages or damage. Carrying out regular inspections of the property ensures that problems are identified at an early stage.

Common problems arising in a tenancy are:

  • Damage to your property and furnishings
  • Noise complaints or problems with neighbours
  • Rent arrears
  • Refusal to vacate the property once the tenancy has ended
  • Tenants behaving disruptively or damaging property

If tenants are being disruptive, or damaging the property, you must explain why their behaviour is unacceptable. Usually, tenancy agreements contain clauses regarding unacceptable behaviour, and tenants have a responsibility to adhere to this. If problems cannot be dealt with, you are within your right to seek possession of the property through court proceedings. This means that the tenant will lose out on a satisfactory reference; affecting their ability to take a new tenancy with another landlord in the future.

How to deal with a tenant with rent arrears

If tenants fall behind with rent, you must issue a reminder that money is due. It is important to keep in touch and record all documentation to recover the rent. If you find yourself needing to take legal proceedings, you must provide a record of all steps you have taken to recover the rent.

Keep a record of payments: Keep a record of payment dates and when they have been paid, as well as sending receipts.

Write to the tenant: If the rent has not been paid for several days, contact your tenant by telephone and via a formal written letter. The letter should request outstanding arrears, and explain that unpaid arears can result in court action.

Send a letter to the guarantor: If you still have not received outstanding rent, send another letter to the tenant explaining the matter may seek possession of the property. If a guarantor was provided, contact them explaining that arrears are outstanding, outside of the tenancy agreement.

Claim possession of your property: If after 21 days you have not received rent, send a third letter explaining the final step before considering further action to reclaim the property. This letter should indicate your intention to take legal action. Under the Housing Act 1988, you have the right to claim possession of the property.

Go to court: If the tenant has not responded, you are entitled to take legal action. You could ask the court to make a judgement against your tenant for the rent arrears and costs incurred. The court may order the tenant to leave the property, pay you a specified amount, they may allow the tenant to stay as long as they obey conditions, or leave the property and pay a specified amount to cover rent, court fees and legal costs.

Evicting a tenant

All angles must be considered, the correct procedures must be followed. If you fail to do so, it could incur further costs, loss of income, and cause delays.  Following correct procedures protects you from being accused of illegally evicting tenants.

Section 21 and Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 are what landlords usually use to evict tenants in England and Wales. Whilst you may have grounds to use Section 8, it may be more effective to use Section 21 in cases where a fixed term tenancy is coming to an end.

Section 21

A section 21 notice informs a tenant that you wish to recover possession of the property once they have left. You must give the tenant no less than two months’ notice. If a fixed term tenancy has come to an end, or there is a break clause that could be triggered, you can serve a Section 21 notice of possession. You can serve this if the tenant hasn’t done anything wrong, you do not have to provide a reason for recovering possession of the property.

Section 8

A section 8 is served when you have grounds for eviction. You can terminate the tenancy during its fixed term if the tenant has breached their tenancy agreement. Tenants may dispute this- and it may go to court, and you will have to provide evidence for the reason for the eviction.

Even if you have grounds for eviction, it may be more effective to serve a section 21 notice. You can serve both sections at the same time, and issue court proceedings.

If you require any more information, do not hesitate to contact us on 0113 284 5000.

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