Maintaining a good client/landlord relationship

2nd June 2023 posted in Landlords

The Landlord's Guide to Issues with Tenants

We know that being a landlord is a job you can pour a lot of your time and energy into. It's ideal to keep everyone on the same page when it comes to property maintenance and other tenant expectations. You'll want to avoid any disagreements about the deposit so that you get paid on time.

We've put together some advice below to help you keep your relationship with your tenants healthy. As experts in issues that concern landlords and tenants, you can also get in touch with us directly at any time to see how we can help you to manage your lettings. Read on to find out more.

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What are some common concerns tenants have?

We've spoken to landlords and tenants from all different walks of life in our time, so we know what concerns tenants often raise. As a landlord, you'll want to be aware of these so you can take all the necessary preventative measures. You'll also know what to look out for so you can make sure your tenants are maintaining the property to an acceptable standard.

· Scenario 1: The tenant is concerned about property repairs: a tenant may raise a concern if they feel that a landlord hasn’t repaired a boiler, sorted a damp problem or dealt with an infestation promptly (among other examples). It's the landlord's responsibility to handle repairs and tenants should never be charged extra for this.

· Scenario 2: You have concerns about property damage: this may arise if you spot damage on the property that the tenant has not reported. There could also be an issue if tenants have reported it, but you can't agree on whether it classifies as "reasonable wear and tear".

· Scenario 3: You are concerned about cleaning and gardening: This is a common problem when tenants move out. You may find that the house has been left in a dirty condition and/or the garden is unkempt. Usually, the expectation is that the tenants should leave a property in the same state of cleanliness in which they found it.

· Scenario 4: Tenants haven't paid the latest instalment of rent: Tenants may miss rent payments for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the tenant is not deliberately withholding the money but has experienced a sudden redundancy or broken up with the partner with whom they were splitting the rent. At other times, they may be refusing to pay the rent due to a disagreement about something, such as a delay in repairs.

It's a good idea to stay on top of the latest landlord legislation so that you know where you and your tenants stand and how to handle situations such as the above.

What to do when you and your tenants don't agree

Whether you are a landlord who wants to raise a concern with your tenants or you're the one who has been challenged by them, it's always a good idea to get professional advice. With the right guidance, landlords and tenants can reach a resolution that puts the matter to bed.

Here are a few more scenarios and ways in which you can approach them along with some other crucial need-to-knows for landlords.

What if there's a landlord deposit dispute?

Are you a landlord caught up in a deposit dispute who's looking for advice?

If the tenancy started after 6 April 2007, you are required to protect their deposit in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.

If your tenants have moved out and you have decided that you need to keep some of the deposit for whatever reason, your tenant may disagree with you and try to get it back. They are likely to contact the tenancy deposit protection scheme and use their free dispute resolution service.

This service will then contact you to request evidence. You will need to upload the inspection and inventory reports that should have been filled out when they first moved into the property. Without these, you won't have a strong case. Provide as much evidence as you can, including any photos that you took of the property before and after the tenancy. The more you provide, the greater your chance of success.

If the tenancy began before 6 April 2007, they may apply to the local county court to get back the full deposit. This will cost them a court fee of £308, which they can claim back from you if they win the case.

To avoid a formal dispute over your landlord charges, it's best to be very clear with the tenants beforehand about what their responsibilities are and why you feel that you should keep some of the deposit.

What if there's an issue concerning the tenancy agreement?

A written contract is usually considered a tenancy agreement – though, in its absence, a verbal agreement regarding the cost of rent, the inclusion of utility bills and any restrictions binding the tenant may also be classified as a tenancy agreement (though this can be harder to prove).

Tenants and landlords are bound by law to certain obligations, whether or not these are specified in the written tenancy agreement. For example, a landlord is obliged to carry out basic repairs to the structure of the property and a tenant must only use the property for residential purposes.

You may feel that a tenant has breached part of the tenancy agreement and then challenge them about it. For example, they may be neglecting the property by living in a state of uncleanliness or the neighbours may have filed noise complaints against them.

Such disagreements are easier to manage if you keep a record of any electronic communications that you have had with the tenants. You can use these as evidence if you need to do so. Keep any written evidence of noise complaints and past arrangements that you have made concerning hygiene inspections handy.

Who resolves disagreements between tenants and landlords?

In the first instance, it's usually simpler and cheaper to try to settle disagreements informally with your tenants.

Try to do much of this in writing, sending a formal letter to your tenants that takes stock of the problem and the proposed resolution.

If this doesn't work and you want to avoid the expense of a court case, you should investigate a landlord and tenancy mediation service to help you to settle the problem.

If all else fails, the next stop might be a small claims court (used to settle cases with a value of less than £10,000). You will need to enlist the services of a solicitor who specialises in landlord and tenancy law for this. The good news is that the small claims court may offer a free mediation service.

If your tenants owe you rent money and you want to reclaim your property because they aren't able or willing to pay, you will need to use the government's online Possession Claim Service.

If the tenancy has ended and you're not happy with how a tenant has left your property, you may seek a resolution through your tenancy deposit scheme. They will act as an impartial party and make a final judgment about whether you have the right to keep part or all of the deposit.

Try to prevent or settle a deposit dispute by being clear about how much of the deposit you are entitled to for the issue in question and referring tenants to the deposit use clause in their tenancy agreement.

How long does a landlord have to raise their concerns?

As a landlord, you've got the flexibility to raise an issue with your tenants at any point while they live in the property.

Once the tenancy has ended, there are time restraints that you need to be aware of. You will need to refer to the type of deposit protection that you have secured for your tenant to see the precise deadlines.

Why choose Hunters for landlord services?

We hope that some of the advice that we've detailed in this guide has given you a better steer on how to handle any misunderstandings between you and your tenants.

Here at Hunters, we offer more than a few specialised services to make your life as a landlord simpler. Some of the ways we can help you include offering you advice on letting out your property and handling tricky situations. We can even step in as your letting agent.

Here are a few of the reasons why you can trust us to help you:

·        We have an excellent customer satisfaction rating that exceeds 90%. This is well above the industry average of 73%.

·        We can advertise your property for you on all the major platforms. These include Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location.

·        Our website has a handy landlord portal that helps you to keep all your lettings in one place.

·        Sometimes it's nice to pop in for some extra help and advice, in person. With us, that's easy. We have local branches situated all over the country, so you should never be too far from one.

·        We make it our business to stay up to date with the latest landlord legislation. With over 400 laws and regulations of which to be aware, we know that you sometimes need someone to lean on for advice so that you can stay compliant. We can help with that.

·        We offer a broad bank of other landlord resources brimming with useful information that you can access at any time.

Should you require support with any communications you're having with your tenants, just get in touch with a friendly Hunters expert and we'll see how we can help you!

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