Easy does it - simple steps for Residential Landlords to take to avoid costly problems with tenants

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of residential Landlords seeking advice from the Rollits Dispute Resolution Group regarding problem tenants. Common issues include non-payment of rent, noise and nuisance complaints being made by the tenant`s neighbours and destruction of property by tenants. 

Unless dealt with quickly by Landlords, these issues have the potential to become extremely troublesome and costly to Landlords with Landlords with Landlords risking finding themselves thousands of pounds out of pocket. By taking a few simple steps, Landlords can minimise the risk that they will become one of the unfortunate few who find themselves with a tenant that costs them money and potentially even devalues their property. 

1. Ensure that you have a written tenancy agreement and ensure you are familiar with the terms. 

2. Make sure that any deposit paid to you by a Tenant is dealt with in accordance with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme ("TDS") and provide tenant`s with all the information you are required to provide under the TDS. This will ensure you avoid being exposed to the sanctions imposed on defauling landlords under the TDS and also ensure that you can serve a Section 21 Notice/2 month notice to recover possession of the property (assuming you have an assured shortold tenancy) 

3. If you do not take deposits from tenants, consider making it a condition of the tenant that the tenant provides a guarantor for their liabilities and responsibilities under the tenancy. If a guarantor is to be provided, ensure it is a worthwhile guarantor; it is not unheard of for a Landlord to accept a guarantor proposed by the tenant only to find that the guarantor is less able that the tenant to satisfy the tenants obligations under the tenancy.

4. Consider producing a Schedule of Condition for the property before entering into a new tenancy with a tenant. The Schedule should contain photographs of each room in the property together with the exterior and be a record of the condition of the property as at the time the tenancy is started. The tenant should be asked to sign the Schedule of Condition when signing the tenancy agreement with the Schedule then either being affixed to or at least kept with a copy of the signed tenancy agreement.

5. Keep an up to date schedule of rent payment dates, rent payments received and any arrears. If any rent payments are missed, promptly notify the tenant that they are in arrears and request immediate payment or any arrears 

6. Keep detailed records of discussions with tenants and follow up those discussions with letters or emails. Ensure that you keep copies of any letters or emails sent to or received from the tenant. 

7. If problems continue to arise, consider taking steps to recover possession of the property. Whilst there may be something to be said for having a tenant in a property rather than a vacant property, most Landlords do not have difficulty in finding new tenants. More importantly, a troublesome tenant will almost certainly cost the Landlord far more in the long run. 

Taking these proactive steps will ensure that a Landlord is fully aware of any potential problems when they first arise so that they can try and take immediate remedial action before the problems escalates further. Taking these steps will also place the Landlord in a much stronger position should the Landlord issues proceedings to recover possession of the property as it will ensure that Landlord has a full record of events that it can provide to the Court to support the Landlords possession claim.

Posted on: 13/07/2012

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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