Why Tenancy Agreements are Important to Tamworth Landlords

Yes, It is possible to create a tenancy without actually signing a tenancy agreement but who is crazy enough to do that?

Well you would be surprised –  Recently I  have been contacted twice by landlords who allowed tenants to move into their properties without having a tenancy agreement in place.

One of the landlords I am afraid to say does not want me to mention his case in my blog, apparently he is the butt of his friends jokes over his little issue. I have given him my advice and the rest is now up to him!Spit Handshake

The other landlord contacted me when his tenants failed to pay the deposit and rent. He allowed this “lovely” couple to take the keys and move in with the promise of paying the monies owed when they got paid, two days later.

When monies were not forthcoming and the landlord chased, he was told, this “lovely” couple were going to pay their rent in arrears and they knew nothing about any agreement to pay a deposit.

So we now have a frustrated landlord asking  “Can they pay their rent in arrears and what about the deposit?

Yes, they can, unfortunatley.

Under common law, rent is payable in arrears unless there is a tenancy agreement in place and the agreement states rent is payable in advance.

With regards to the deposit, the landlord has no recourse, where is the proof.

By using a properly drafted tenancy agreement Landlords go a long way to protecting their position. It is unwise to add and remove clauses without legal advice  as they can be classed as unfair terms .

For example a clause will normally be unfair if it takes away a right which a tenant would normally have in law.

If you want to prohibit something a tenant would normally be able to do, such as re-decorate the property, your clause must contain wording providing for the tenant to request permission to do whatever they are wanting to do and must state that “the permission will not be unreasonably refused”.

Countless landlords have invalidated their pets clauses by removing this wording on the basis that “no pets allowed in this property under any circumstances”.

A tenant can request permission for something but it does not mean that you have got to agree to it. It may be reasonable to refuse your permissionm, that is your right as a Landlord. But if you deny tenants the chance to request permission – this will invalidate the clause, meaning that there is nothing to stop them keeping whatever pets they like.

Tenancy agreements need to be fair and written in plain English, they can include clauses to protect the landlord’s position. i.e. –

Notifying tenants that you will provide their details to utilities if they default on payment. You should also note down that you may also use tracing agents if they leave owing you money.

Everyone living in the property, including all children are named in the tenancy agreement and there should be a clause saying that no one else is allowed to live in the property.

Remember doing business on spit and a hand shake is no longer good practice 🙁

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 – 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

 

I want to share my thoughts and opinions on the real issues affecting the Tamworth property market, warts and all. If you want someone to tell you the real story about the Tamworth property market, be it good, bad or indifferent, then maybe you should start reading my blog regularly.

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Repair/Replacement of White Goods for Tamworth Landlords

We are often asked  “who is responsible for the repair or replacement of White Goods supplied by a landlord at the start of  a tenancy?”

What are “White Goods?”

white goods
white goods

White goods are washing machines, fridge-freezers, tumble dryers and dishwashers, all traditionally coloured white.

 

There is no statutory duty on the  landlord to repair/replace white goods, however, there may be a contractual obligation on either party. If a provision has been included in the tenancy agreement, this will have to be taken into consideration.

Legal
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act sets out a landlord’s repairing obligations during a tenancy. So where the landlord has supplied White Goods, are they responsible for the repair if they break down? The act does not specifically mention White Goods,  thus not making  landlords responsible.

But, any electrical appliances that are supplied by the landlord must be safe pursuant to the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. Where they have been supplied they must be of a reasonable standard.

Decide who is to take responsibility to repair/replace  White Goods  and include a comprehensive provision within the tenancy agreement.

Prior to a tenancy commencing, ensure that tenants are fully aware of any provisions made in the tenancy agreement. The last thing you want is a tenant later being advised they have to fork out for White Good repairs!

 

If the Tamworth Property Market interests you then you may enjoy the articles on the Tamworth Property Blog at http://www.tamworthpropertyblog.com.

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Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth tenants want a new AST!

Ask Lorraine –

Good morning,

ask lorraine new ast
ask Lorraine – new AST

Some advice please, on a rather delicate matter.

My wife and I own a 3  bed terraced property  in Tamworth, we have had the same tenants in the property since purchasing it some 5 years ago. They have been good tenants and we are more like friends than landlord and tenant. We have the odd month when rent is up to a week late, however it’s always been received in the end and with little prodding on my part.

Both the husband and wife work for the same company, they have just informed my wife that the company is closing down with the loss of all jobs.

Our tenants have asked if we would  give them a new tenancy agreement so that they are able to claim housing benefit.

I have agreed to give them a new 1 year tenancy agreement.

dilemma
dilemma

My dilemma is this, at the moment the tenants are a few days late with this months rent, what happens if they are not able to pay and the council are not forthcoming. Will we be able to evict or will we have to wait until the new tenancy agreement expires in a years time?

George

Lorraine’s Answer

Hi George,

The tenants do not require a new AST (tenancy agreement)  in order to claim Housing Benefit, the council will accept the original AST or a copy of the original AST.

In the first instance I would suggest checking what the tenants Housing Benefit entitlements are, you can check the LHA rate on the LHA Direct website.

If you have not already given a new tenancy agreement (AST) I would not do so, you could be making it more difficult to evict the tenants and their rights will become much stronger.  There is so much prescribed information to give with a new tenancy agreement and so many regulations that you must comply with i.e a copy of the EPC, protecting the deposit correctly  and giving them the prescribed information. What about the government’s “How to Rent” booklet, the list goes on!

Should the need arise and you find yourselves in a situation where you need to evict, without the correct paperwork having been given at the start of the tenancy, you will find yourself in serious trouble and will have great difficulty evicting.

As always,  I would recommend meeting with the tenants and explain that a new AST is not required. Support them however you can, without it being at your detriment.

You have already mentioned that the rent is payable monthly, once there are over two months arrears you can take action to evict under the  s8 Housing Act, should you wish!

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/schedule/2

You may wish to seek legal advice if you do ever decide to go down the route of evicting under the  s8 Housing Act. The professionals can do this on your behalf.

I hope things do work out for you and your tenants.

until next week

Ask Lorraine – I’m renting to my cousin surely I don’t need to complete The Right to Rent Checks?

ASK Lorraine:
“Hello Lorraine,
I’m a Tamworth Landlord, manage my own property portfolio and have done so for a number of years.  My question is, these recent guidelines that I read about called  ‘Right to Rent check’ –  must I now do this for any new tenant, is this compulsory? Why I’m asking is that I’m considering renting out a property to my cousin. Surely the Right to Rent check does not include family and friends.
Thanks
Alan”
Lorraine’s Answer:
Hi Alan,
The Right to Rent checks were introduced to Tamworth as of 1st February 2016. It’s part of the Immigration Act 2014 which is to ensure that no Landlord or agent permits any adult to occupy a dwelling unless they have a ‘Right to Rent’ in the UK.
The responsibility for these checks has been passed down from the Home Office to the Landlord or agent acting on behalf of a Landlord. Checks MUST be carried out prior to the start of the tenancy. All adults must be checked regardless of nationality,ethnicity or blood group, so even though you are looking to rent to your Cousin you should keep on file a copy of his/her passport. Under age children do not need checking, you should verify their age and keep a note on file. All pertaining  paperwork should be retained on file for as long as required. 
It is a criminal offence if you are seen to be making exceptions to the checking process i.e people who appear to be English.  So if you make it statutory as part of your business process to check every man and his dog,  you will not fall foul of the law.
Passport
So who has the right to rent?

 

 

1/A British citizen.
2/A European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national.
3/Has a right to rent in the UK e.g has a valid visa which expires after the proposed tenancy end date.
There are a number of documents which can be used to check the Right to Rent, the usual ones being passports, identity cards and visas, for more information and a full list , check out the governments website.

Should you not feel confident to carry out  the checks yourself, there are many referencing companies who will complete these checks on your behalf.

If you have any further questions, feel free to drop me an email or give me a call. Email me on lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk or  call on 07531484956.
Don’t forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Tamworth Property News.
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Ask Lorraine – Our Tamworth tenants have moved out leaving belongings

🙋  Landlord’s Question: 

“Good Evening Lorraine

Our tenants appear to have moved out without paying last months rent. We are being advised by neighbours that they have moved to Spain. They left behind items i.e washing machine, dishwasher, 3 piece suite, a very nice patio set, garden shed and quite a lot of rubbish.

We need to relet this property as soon as possible as we are paying a mortgage on it so our priority is getting rid of the items they have left behind.

Unfortunately we didn’t take a deposit and know we are unlikely to recoup the owing rent or for damage to the living room carpet.

What is our position regarding disposing of the goods left behind?

We have no contact address for them, emails and phone calls are not being responded too and my wife has attempted  to connect with them on facebook.

Steve”

Tenants have moved out and left belongings
Tenants have moved out and left belongings

🙋 Lorraines Answer

Steve, you appear to have got off  relatively light.  In lots of eviction cases the tenants remove everything they own from the property including items that do not belong to them and go as far as trashing the property.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, next time take a deposit 1.5 – 2.0 x the monthly rent.

As a landlord you do have a legal obligation to take care of the goods and to make reasonable attempts to trace the tenants in order to return the goods. See Tortes  Law (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 which makes provision for abandoned goods under S12.

Under S12 of the Torts Act, if the  tenant (known as bailor) breaks an arrangement to take delivery of the goods, or the landlord (bailee) is unable to trace the former tenant, then the landlord is permitted to sell the goods, provided he gives notice.

The landlord (bailee) can sell the goods at auction and deduct any auction charges incurred, storage costs can also be deducted. Full clear and concise records should be kept ensuring that the tenant cannot come back at a later date asking for recompense for the cost of the goods.

Any monies made from the sale of the goods can be used to offset rent arrears and damages as long as your tenancy agreement has these stipulations noted.

Before disposing of any goods, even when the tenants cannot be traced there is a prescribed form of notice, which must be followed.

1. In writing by registered post or recorded deliver.

2. Full names and the address of the tenants,  full details of the goods held and the address where they are being held.

3. Mention that the goods are ready for collection or to be delivered to the tenant (bailor).

4.  The place of sale and the date on or after which they will be sold, as well as any costs which will be deducted from the sale proceeds.

The notice  must be attached to the property so that it can seen, perhaps on the front door and downstairs windows. 

Unless noted in your tenancy agreement, there is no set notice period, 14 days is the norm,  however the notice should give the tenant (bailor) a reasonable time to take delivery of the goods.

Even if the tenant can’t be traced following guidelines above will ensure that you don’t fall foul of the law.

Until next week.

If you are a landlord or thinking of becoming one for the first time and you want to read more articles like this about the Tamworth Property Market, together with regular postings on what I consider the best buy to let deals in Tamworth (out of the many of properties on the market, irrespective of which agent is selling it) then feel free to get in touch!

Email me on Lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk or call on 07531484956.

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Ask Lorraine – Can I run a business from my Tamworth rental property?

🙋  Tenants Question: 

My tenancy states no pets but the agent has allowed me to keep two rabbits as long as they stay outdoors.

I’m now considering starting a business to look after rabbits when people go away on holiday. I don’t want to let my agent know what I’m thinking of doing and they will never find out as they never visit the property. If anybody complains to the agent and they do happen to find out, will I lose my tenancy?

Lorraine’s Answer:

Many landlords do have a no pets policy, however there is an unknown legal loophole which allows tenants to keep rabbits and chickens.

Natasha Brooks, a tenant with New Charter Housing Trust in Greater Manchester, came across this loophole. After an inspection by a housing officer, the trust had threatened  her with action, they were claiming she had breached her tenancy agreement.

Natasha fought her case and the housing trust backed down after she found Section 12 of The Allotments Act 1950. She stated that her tenancy agreement with a“no pets” clause did not specifically mention rabbits and chickens, the law gives  the right to the ‘occupier of any land’ which would include assured shorthold tenancy agreements.

There are legal obligations:-

Keeping rabbits and chickens as pets is allowed, but they cannot be kept so as to  used in a business or for any trade purposes i.e selling eggs to neighbours and friends would break the conditions.

The keeping of rabbits and chickens must not cause a nuisance to neighbours or a health issue.  If the chickens were constantly noisy or rats became a problem, this would most likely mean the right to keep them would be withdrawn.

Penny  and Henny continued to live in the back garden of Ms Brooks house.

So yes you can keep your rabbits as pets,  however  you should check  your tenancy agreement for a clause that prohibits running a business from your rental home. If you do, you will most likely be in breach of your tenancy and will fall foul with your agent and Landlord.

No Pets allowed!

No Pets!!

Until Next week.

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Ask Lorraine – Can I Do A Four Month Tenancy?

🙋  Landlord’s Question: 

”Dear Lorraine,

I would like to rent my flat  for 4 months only, my daughter is moving back from the States  and  will want to move in. I know the end date for the tenancy but I’m not sure how to complete the paperwork, is it a standard tenancy agreement.  Do you think I will have  a problem finding a short term tenant?

Four month tenancy
Four month tenancy?

Lorraine’s Answer:

You are still creating a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy and you can create a tenancy for how ever long you wish, however since 1st October 2015 you will find that you cannot serve a section 21 within the first four months of the tenancy.

Even though you have created the tenancy for four months if the tenant decides not to move out at the end of the four months (plus one day) you will then have to serve them with a Section 21  giving two months notice. So make sure all your paperwork is in order and the tenant has received the EPC, gas certification and  “how to rent leaflet”,  otherwise the section 21 will be invalid and you will be back at square one. If a deposit has been taken, ensure it has been dealt with correctly and in the required time.

If your section 21 is valid and the renters are  still in situ, you will need to obtain a possession order through the court.

I would recommend advertising your property for a four month let ensuring that it is clear and visible in the advertisement. When holding viewings make it quite clear that it is only a four month tenancy and why it is only for this period.

That way you are likely to find a tenant who will leave voluntarily at the end of the term because they are only wanting it short term anyway, there are always people looking for short rentals.

Until next week.

If you are a landlord or thinking of becoming one for the first time and you want to read more articles like this about the Tamworth Property Market, together with regular postings on what I consider the best buy to let deals in Tamworth (out of the many of properties on the market, irrespective of which agent is selling it) then feel free to get in touch! 07531484956 or

lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk

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