While it’s vital to respect your tenants, landlords also have rights in place to protect their investment. By knowing your rights, you’ll be able to deal with your tenants fairly and lawfully – which should help keep everybody happy.
As a landlord, it’s important to understand the rights of your tenants. But it’s also vital that you understand how you and your property are protected. Follow our guide to find out where you stand and what action to take if things go wrong.
Right to enter
You’re legally allowed to enter the premises for inspections and repairs, but will need to give at least 24 hours’ notice, unless it’s an emergency. This doesn’t mean you can ask your tenants to vacate temporarily. Tenants have the right to stay in the property whilst repairs are carried out.
Find out who’s living at your property
You have a right to know precisely who’s inhabiting your property. Even if your tenant has a guest to stay (i.e. someone who does not pay rent) you have a right to be informed should you request. Should you feel it necessary, you can request their details for referencing – just as you would with a prospective tenant. With more emphasis on curbing illegal immigration, it’s only sensible to know who you have residing at your property.
Rent increases should be reasonable and in step with the local market, because otherwise your tenant could take you to the First Tier Property Tribunal, who can decide the amount. When you can raise the rent depends on the type of tenancy mentioned in the tenancy agreement.
With fixed-term tenancy, rent rises are permitted at any point, as long as it states this in the tenancy agreement. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the agreement expires.
With periodic tenancy – if it’s renewed weekly or monthly – rent rises can only occur annually. This can be done through a mutually agreed contract or a form available from Gov.uk. NB: The form must be submitted with at least one month’s notice.
For more information, the government has further guidance on rent increases.
Being paid rent on time
As set out in the tenancy agreement, you have the right to expect a set amount of rent to be paid on the due date. If the tenant is unable or unwilling to pay, you ultimately have the right to evict them.
Before things get to this stage, try some more diplomatic solutions:
- Talk to them to understand the problem. If they fall into arrears, mutually agree to a repayment plan and put it in writing
- If your tenant is consistently struggling to pay, they may be entitled to Housing Benefit or a Discretionary Housing Payment
- Go to a small claims court. If they judge in your favour, the authorities will be able to deduct rent payments straight from your tenant’s wages. If the rent remains unpaid for 14 days, you have the right to repossess your property.
Dealing with difficult tenants
If you can’t settle any problems informally, you can also involve an impartial mediation service. While they will charge a fee, it will still be much cheaper than taking legal action. To find a mediation service in your area, follow the appropriate link:
Should matters get more serious, you have the right to take your tenants to the small claims court. If you’re unsure how to proceed, the Citizens Advice Bureau is a good place to start.
Dealing with damage to your property
If your tenant has damaged furniture or fittings at your property, they must inform you immediately. Your tenancy agreement should detail what happens in the event of damage occurring and how repairs will be carried out. As the landlord, you have the right to deduct the repair amount from the deposit or take legal action against your tenant for compensation.
In order to evict your tenant, you must be sure to adhere to the following process:
For assured shorthold tenants:
- Issue them with a section 21 notice if you want them to leave when the tenancy agreement comes to an end
- Issue them with a section 8 notice if they’ve broken any terms of the tenancy agreement
- If your tenants owe you rent and won’t leave by the date you’ve given on the notice, you can apply to court for a possession order for eviction. If you are willing to forgo any unpaid rent, you can apply for an accelerated possession order
- A warrant for possession can be obtained if they refuse to leave, which means bailiffs can intervene on your behalf.
For Assured and regulated tenancies:
- These tenants have increased protection from eviction. Anyone who started a tenancy before 27 February 1997 could be included in this.
For Excluded tenancies:
- As long as you give reasonable notice, it’s not necessary to go through court
- If they pay monthly, you would need to give them a verbal month’s notice
- If they or their possessions still remain, you’ll be allowed to change the locks.
Keeping abandoned possessions
Should your tenant have moved out (either voluntarily or following an eviction notice) you have the right to take possession of any of their property left behind. While this is your legal right, it’s advisable to let them know about their property if you want to maintain a good relationship.
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