/ Home & Energy

Brief cases: the problems of renting out a property solved

Colourful wooden houses

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?


It would be good to see articles about student renting in the main Which magazine. My son was ripped off at uni and never got his deposit back. The working practices of landlords and the deposit protection scheme are not consumer friendly enough.
Having said that his last landlord was fair and although it too longer than expected to get his deposit back, he did get it all eventually. So as usual there are good and bad examples.

Paul Watson-Long says:
28 September 2014

The landlord has to give 2 months notice not 2 weeks to get a tenant out as the article says.

Hello Paul, thanks for your comment. It’s actually two weeks in this specific circumstance – if you wish the tenant to leave because they are persistently late in paying the rent (or for some other ground under Part 2 of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1989) you must give them two weeks notice complying with section 8 of the Act.

This differs to section 21 of the Housing Act. This is where the landlord wants his property back but is not claiming any breach of contract on the part of the tenant. In this case the landlord has to have given the tenant two months notice before he can issue possession proceedings.

Ruby says:
14 April 2015

Hi Paul,
My husband and I are new landlords of a three floor 44 unit building. My question is: is it law that we have to allow tenants to be able to have a dog? There are 6 tenants in the building that have dogs and it is such a problem with them not cleaning up dog feces on the property. We have sent notices out to all dog owners but it still continues. We have asked them not to walk them on our grounds but on the other side of the parking lot and to be diligent in picking up the poop. No matter what we say, its not working. Do we have to rent to dog owners?

Thank You,
All pooped out in Ontario

Hi Ruby, thanks for your post. I notice you’re in Ontario – Is that where the three floor 44 unit building is, too? If so, it’s difficult for us to comment because the law and regulations will be different in Canada as it is in the UK.

Allen Wyatt says:
25 June 2015

Got some great idea reading your post.

So a tenant gets housing benefit, and has been working so the benefit hasnt been paid for a few months!

She had a tenancy agreement but it was years ago and I didn’t issue another one.

I also want to sell the property. Which notice do I serve? 8 or 21?

In your circumstances, and if they are more than two months in arrears on a monthly contract then I would certainly use the s8 form. It allows you to move forward with the eviction process sooner.