Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth HMO and damage.

Ask Lorraine – We have been landlords of 2 apartments for 6 years now and have always had fantastic tenants. My husband talked me into adding to our portfolio and we are now running  a HMO. Wow, what a whole new ball game!

The HMO is our former much loved family home, we always had top of the range fixtures and fittings and it was  possibly much nicer than other HMO’s.

Shared House
Shared house

 

 

 

 

Our problem is that my husband seems to be at the property every week sorting issues out. Last night a tenant texted to say that the corner of the marble worksurface in the kitchen is badly chipped. Infact he states that he found a rather large piece of marble on the kitchen floor which he’s left on the hall table, should we need the piece to repair the worksurface.

We cannot understand how this could possibly have happened, surely this is not down to wear and tear?The problem is that it will be very difficult to prove who actually damaged the worksurface and to charge them.

Best Wishes Lily

Lorraine’s Answer – Hello Lily

You have my every sympathy, renting out your own former home is always a recipe for disaster.  No matter how careful the tenants are, they will they be harder on it than you ever were.

One piece of advice – make it nice for them but don’t go to the same expense as you would your own home. Tenants may not deliberately damage your things but as they haven’t had to pay for them the they won’t normally have the same feelings towards them.

The problem with HMO’s is that you cannot prove which resident damaged anything in the communal areas, so basically the landlord has to carry out the repairs and swallow any costs.

You’ve probably already found that running costs of a HMO are much higher than that of a normal AST type tenancy. If you are carrying out weekly repairs it may be in your best interests if you do your sums and decide if running a HMO is still good for you. After all you are running a business!

With the added costs, come the legislation on HMO’s, these  are a minefiled for even seasoned Landlords, maybe a headache too far?

Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy your property journey.

Until next week

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Ask Lorraine – My tenants have left owing hundreds in utility bills

Ask Lorraine  – We  had been renting our Tamworth  property out to a couple who really did seem to be respectable and trustworthy.

Tenants owe utility bills
Tenants owe utility bills

Once they had  moved out we found  they had left owing over £600.00 in utility bills.

Apparently the lady had contacted the utility suppliers and said they were only renting a room from us and  we were  responsible for the bills.

This was simply not true, the couple were renting the whole property. For the past 3 months, we have been in talks with the utility suppliers however as the couple have now  disappeared  we are being pressed to settle these bills. We have been burying our heads in the sand. Please help.

Anna

Bills

Lorraine’s answer  – Hi Anna,

Did you take meter readings and inform the utility companies before the tenants moved in?

Did you also inform the water company and council when the tenants moved in?

As the Landlord and owner of the property, you should really take responsibility to advise the relevant companies when  tenants move in and out. Don’t rely on others to do this!

You need to contact the Utility suppliers and explain that the tenants were liable for the bills, send them the Tenancy Agreement confirming this and make sure they change the owing accounts into the tenants names.

This will ensure their contracts are between them and the tenants plus it should prevent them coming to the property to install credit meters to claw back the outstanding debt from you.

For future reference, you can ask to become an additional name on the account (‘Third Party User’) the tenant has to request this but you can make the tenancy agreement conditional upon this. The landlord would not be liable for the bills, it would give the landlord a way to monitor the tenants account and perhaps be aware of any issues unfolding.

Good Luck.

Until next week

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth agent has given me 14 days to vacate my house

Ask Lorraine – Hello hun,

I’m after a little advice as I don’t have many options. My agent gave me a Section 21 on 19th January and has told me I’ve got 14 days to leave the property. I’ve been renting my home for nearly 2 years.

I have nowhere to go and 14 days is not long enough to find another property and pack up my stuff.  I will end up sofa surfing, yes I have paid the rent a few days late on the odd month but I’m currently up to date.

How can an agent treat me like this,  surely this can’t be right?

Name was supplied

14 days to leave

Lorraine’s Answer – I am sorry that you find yourself in this unpleasant situation and I hope that you do find somewhere to live.

I don’t know if communication has broken down between you and the agent/landlord or if there are underlying issues as to why the landlord requires the property back.

I will do my best to answer your question assuming that you are now on a periodic tenancy agreement.

Section 21

A landlord has the legal right to retain possession at the end of a tenancy but they must follow the correct legal procedure. This includes serving a valid section 21 notice which is the  easiest way for an agent/landlord to recover a property.

For a S21 to be valid there are a number of pieces of information that you should have been given during your tenancy, If not the notice will not be legal and cannot be enforced.

The notice to leave must be at least two calendar months or the same period for which rent is paid, whichever is longer. The notice should end on the last day of a rental period (the day before rent is due).

I do not have all the facts but would certainly recommend that you take your tenancy agreement, complete with any additional paperwork in your possession, to the Council. If the Council cannot help, Citizens Advice will be able too.

Please do this as soon as possible.

Please see below tenants guide to private renting, this will give you lots of helpful advice.

https://www.gov.uk/private-renting

I hope things turn out well for you.

Until next week.

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Ask Lorraine – My problem tenant

Ask Lorraine – One of my Tamworth tenants who has

ask lorraine my problem tenant
ask lorraine my problem tenant

been renting off me for nearly there years is on housing benefit. I gave this lady a chance when others would not take benefit tenants. Five months ago she became a nightmare tenant, she is now causing the neighbours problems and I am getting so many phone calls from them asking that I  resolve the situation. Three weeks ago I received a visit from two of her neighbours demanding that I  evict her. Unfortunately I live on the same Tamworth estate as my tenant.

ask lorraine mad woman

I served a section 21 notice straight away and after receiving notification from the housing benefit department I returned the £500.00 deposit. It appears that the council are on her side as they are now saying that my section 21 is invalid and they have told her not to move out. I have been advised that I must provide evidence that the deposit was protected in accordance with regulations.

For the sake of my tenants neighbours, I need this lady out of my life as soon as possible and hope that you can advise on the best course of action in order to evict her.

Help  A.J.

Lorraine’s Answer

Hi  A.J.

It sounds as though the deposit wasn’t protected within 30 days of being received, if at all?

If you served the section 21 before returning the deposit, you will need to serve  a new one as the council are correct, it is invalid.

In order to serve a valid section 21 there is also legislation paperwork that must be issued (and signed for) at the start of the tenancy. I would recommend checking out the government website      https://www.gov.uk/renting-out-a-property     to ensure you did issue this. Once you have your ducks in a row, serve a new section 21.

Good luck in your quest.

Until next week

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Ask Lorraine – Can I sell my Tamworth Buy-to-let with a sitting tenant?

Ask Lorraine  – Due to changes in my circumstances, I have decided to sell one of my Tamworth properties. Is there any way of selling with the tenants in situ. They are lovely tenants  who have been renting from me for a number of years,  I would like to ensure they are looked after.

Will other landlords buy tenanted properties or must I sell the house with vacant possession?

Many Thanks  Rodney

Tamworth
Tamworth

Lorraine’s Answer – Hello Rodney

I understand you are trying to do the decent thing by your tenants but you do not owe them anything.

There are many landlords who would welcome buying a property with a good solid tenant  in situ. Generally good, long term tenants are an asset to a sale, rather than a problem.

How about offering a financial incentive for the tenants to help you sell for the best price possible?

Whatever route you decide to go down, the new landlord is duty bound by your Tenancy Agreement until the end of its term, so please ensure that your tenants are made aware of this fact.

If your tenants become jittery with the idea of you selling and  a new unknown Landlord, why not let them leave without giving their full notice. At least this way you will have vacant possession.

Until next week

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Ask Lorraine – Tamworth tenants have damaged white goods

Ask Lorraine

Four months ago I purchased a new washing machine for one of my buy to let properties. The washing machine had the usual one year warranty.

ask loz tenants damaged washing machine
ask loz tenants damaged washing machine

Three weeks ago one of the tenants contacted me saying a leak had developed. When the engineer investigated, he left a report stating that it was a hole which had been caused by coins. The fault would not be covered under the warranty.

Who is liable for these financial costs?

Thank you Jem

 

Lorraine’s Answer – Hi Jem,

I would suggest that the tenants would be liable to pay for the repair of the washing machine especially since it was their negligence that caused the fault.

Some tenancy agreements will have a clause which stipulates – White Goods supplied by landlords to be repaired by landlords. However, where landlords require tenants to carry out any  repairs they should include a provision within the tenancy agreement.

Good luck whichever course of action you decide to take.

Until next time.

ask lorraine washing machine
ask lorraine washing machine

 

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth tenants shower fault

Ask Lorraine -My Tamworth tenants shower fault

I allowed my tenant to install a shower over the bath approx. 6 months ago,  he used a certified tradesman and paid for the installation himself.

Two weeks ago a part inside the unit failed causing water to leak into the kitchen below.

ask lorraine shower fault
ask lorraine shower fault

The first I knew about the leak, was when my tenant sent the bill for the call out charge of  £116.00 for me to pay. He’s also sent me a quote to replace the shower and repair the kitchen ceiling, a hefty quote at £850.00.

 

 

Who should be taking responsibility for this, me or my tenant?

Thanks Ady

Lorraine’s Answer –

Hi Ady, If your tenant arranged and paid for the installation of the shower, the  contract will be between your tenant and the installer. I do however think you should take charge of the situation, after all it’s your property. Why on earth would you allow a tenant  to find their own trades person and install a shower?

There should be a one year warranty on the shower so replacement should be covered.  That’s assuming that the tradesman carried out the installation properly.

Speak to your tenant and the installer (confirm details and warranty period) and take it from there.

shower blog
shower blog

You should have landlords insurance for the kitchen ceiling, you can’t ask your tenant to pay for this, unless they were remiss in choosing the installer.

My advice – In future do not allow your tenants to carry out works themselves unless you are there to oversee and sign off any work.

Until next time.

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth tenant is in substantial rent arrears

Do I still go to court
Do I still go to court

Ask Lorraine – I am in court in 3 weeks time over substantial rent arrears, if the tenants pay me before the court date do I still take them to court under Ground 11,  irregularity of payments or should I cancel the proceedings?

Thankyou V. T.

 

 

Lorraine’s Answer –  There are no refunds once you have paid the court fee, therefore, if your tenants did pay your outstanding rent, I would suggest you still continue with your court action.

scales of justice
scales of justice

We always put grounds 8, 10 and 11 –  you have all bases covered then,  just in case they do pay before the hearing.

If the tenants have paid, you probably won’t be awarded a possession order outright, most likely you will receive  a suspended order to see how they behave in the short term.

Usually when substantial arrears are owed, tenants do not pay up and it’s rare for them to turn up at court. Why not have your day in court, it’s a learning experience.

Until next week.

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Ask Lorraine – I have a new lodger but I’m not a landlord, do I need to carry out any checks?

Ask Lorraine – Dear Lorraine

I own my house in Tamworth and have no mortgage so I am quite fortunate. I’ve recently taken in a lodger, a lovely foreign lady who came complete with a little dog. My lodger moved in 2 months ago and pays her rent weekly and on time, neither the dog or my lodger are any trouble.

Last week I went to my monthly ladies club  and several of us were discussing the pros and cons of me taking in a lodger.  Anyway the latest news in the press concerning government changes and policies to renting was mentioned, I later left the ladies club a little perplexed. I do have a lodger but I’m not a landlord, surely I don’t need to carry out checks do I? I’m not out to make this a business, it was more the company I was aiming for.

Chris

Landlady
Landlady

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lorraine’s answer 

Hello Chris,

From 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England have to make right to rent checks. This means checking that tenants have the right to be in the UK.

What this means for landlords

You need to make right to rent checks if you:

  • Are a private landlord.
  • Have taken a lodger.
  • Are sub-letting a property.
  • Are an agent appointed by a landlord to make right to rent checks.

Some landlords won’t need to make the checks.

Full details can be found on the government website  ….https://www.gov.uk/government/news/right-to-rent-checks-what-they-mean-for-you

I would recommend you reading the guidelines and taking appropriate action as the penalties are very costly.

Until next week

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Ask Lorraine – Should I be given a copy of an EPC for the room I rent

Ask Lorraine – Myself and 4 other males rent a room from our Landlord on a room by room basis. He pays all the bills (they  arrive in his name) and we rent our rooms individually from him. I’m hearing that we should have been given a copy of the EPC when we moved in, is this correct?

Thanks Simon

Energy performance certificate
EPC

Lorraine’s Answer –  Hello Simon,

Legislation refers to an EPC being required  just for “buildings” and mentions giving an EPC to the prospective tenant of a “self-contained letting”  Your dwelling is not self-contained i.e. facilities are shared, as in a HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy)  So according to government guidance your type of dwelling does not require an EPC.

Some landlords do however have EPC’s carried out on HMO’s should they ever need to issue a section 21 notice – regulations state Energy Performance of Buildings is now required in order to serve a valid section 21 notice.

Only a Judge can create a legal precedent on the interpretation of legislation and a Judge is only going to be bound by the wording of the statute. I think this is a grey area and guidelines may well be amended in the future to include “bedsits”. Let’s wait for the first test case to come to court!

My advice for any Landlord  where the house is individual room lets, get an EPC for the whole house, it’s valid for 10 years and at a cost of approx £80.00, it hardly breaks the bank – Belt and Braces approach.

Give a copy to prospective tenants and also to whoever becomes the actual tenant.

Until next week

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