A tenant who demolished internal walls of the property he was renting (without his landlord’s permission) is one of the more unusual problems our property lawyers have dealt with…
It became even more unusual when the tenant asked the landlord to pay for the work.
In the above case, the tenant argued that the landlord should pay for the work on the basis that it improved the property’s value. His argument was, perhaps not surprisingly, unsuccessful.
Thankfully, most of the questions I face are less bizarre than that. I work in Which? Legal and I give advice on assured shorthold tenancies in England and Wales.
While renting out a property is a smooth process for many landlords, it’s important to know your responsibilities and the problems that can arise. Here are a couple of the common issues I’ve helped Which? Legal members with.
Q. What can I do if my tenant is always paying their rent late?
Give them a friendly reminder it’s due and ask if there’s a reason it’s always late. If the explanation is unsatisfactory or they’re uncooperative, you may need to write and say that if the rent isn’t paid on time you’ll have to take more serious steps, including court action.
Persistently paying the rent late is a ground on which you can repossess your property. You have to give the tenants two weeks’ notice and if they don’t leave, you can issue court proceedings. The notice and the claim must be drafted correctly and the judge then decides whether to make a possession order. This should take up to eight weeks (but it could be longer if the claim is disputed).
Q. What can I do if a tenant left my property in need of repair?
If you take a deposit from a tenant who has an assured shorthold tenancy (as most residential lettings now are) you must register the deposit with a statutory deposit protection scheme. The tenancy agreement must also have a clause to say you can use the deposit to pay for damage to the property. If the tenant leaves the property in disrepair, get an estimate for repairs and ask the tenant to agree it should be paid from the deposit. If they agree, inform the scheme. If they don’t agree, you or the tenant will have to raise a dispute with the scheme. This would normally be dealt with under its adjudication procedure. The tenant isn’t liable for fair wear and tear.
Are you a landlord who’s had a problem tenant? Or what about a tenant who has a problem with a landlord? How did you resolve the dispute?