Ask Lorraine – My Tamworth tenants moved out after leaving rent arrears of nearly three thousand pounds and I have decided to persue the tenant’s guarantor for the money.
Up to the point of the tenants doing a moonlight flit I had been in contact with the guarantor through Facebook. I had made him aware of the arrears situation and his obligations as guarantor.
The moment I found out that my tenants had vanished, I also found out that the guarantor had not only deleted his Facebook account but his mobile number had changed as well.
Would you credit it? The address given by him at the start of the tenancy is incorrect, they’ve never even heard of him there!
I would like to trace this gentleman, I think possibly that he is still living and working in the Tamworth area.
Can you offer any advice?
Lorraine’s Answer –
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!
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.
Landlords, would you like a second opinion on a potential Buy-to-Let property or do you have nagging concerns – please feel free to contact us on 01827 425195 or 07531484956.We are here to help you on your property journey.
The news is currently full of government legislation for renting out residential properties and raising standards.
Day 3 – Energy Performance Certificates
From 1st April 2018 there are minimum energy level regulations (MEES), any building which is to be rented on a new tenancy or a renewal, must have a minimum energy rating of “E”.
Furthermore from 1 April 2020, the minimum level “E” applies to all tenancies, including existing.
There are a number of exemptions available and if one of those exemptions apply, the property must be registered on the National PRS Exemptions Register.
All residential properties require an EPC certificate if they are being sold or let, if you need one completed, please get in touch.
Hall and Thompson are still conducting viewings and letting properties. Please phone 01827 425195 if you are looking for a property. Almost fully booked for today but still have availability for tomorrow.
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
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
If you want to learn about the Tamworth Property Market , one source for information is the Tamworth Property Blog authored by yours truly at https://www.tamworthpropertyblog.co.uk
- Read and follow the government’s online guidance
Should you not feel confident to carry out the checks yourself, there are many referencing companies who will complete these checks on your behalf.
On several occasions over the last few months, in my Tamworth Property Blog, I predicted that the rate of rental inflation (i.e. how much rents are rising by) had eased over the last year. At the same time I felt that in some parts of the UK rents had actually dropped for the first time in over eight years. Recent research backs up this prediction.
Rents in Tamworth for new tenancies only grew by 0.4% in the last 12 months (i.e. not existing tenants experiencing rental increases from their existing landlord). When we compare that current rate with the historical rental inflation in Tamworth, an interesting pattern emerges ..
- 2016 – Rental Inflation in Tamworth was 2.2%
- 2015 – Rental Inflation in Tamworth was 6.9%
- 2014 – Rental Inflation in Tamworth was 0.7%
The reason behind this change depends on which side of the demand/supply equation you are looking from. On the demand side (from the tenants point of view) there is the uncertainty of Brexit and the fact that salaries are not keeping up with inflation for the first time in three years. Critically this means tenants have less disposable income to pay their rent. As an aside, it is interesting to note that nationally, rent accounts for 29% of a tenant’s take home pay (Denton House).
On the supply side of the equation (landlords point of view) Brexit also creates uncertainty. However, the biggest issue was a massive upsurge of new rental properties coming on to the market in late 2016, caused by George Osborne’s new 3% stamp duty tax for landlords in the first part of 2016. This meant a lot of new rental properties were ‘dropped’ on to the rental market all at the same time. The greater choice of rental properties for tenants curtailed rental growth/inflation. A slight softening of Tamworth property prices has compounded this. Figures from The Bank of England suggested that first time buyers rose over the last 12 months as some were more inclined to buy instead of rent. Together, these factors played a part in the ongoing moderation of rental growth.
The lead up to the General Election in May didn’t help: after all people don’t like doubt and uncertainty. So now that we have a mandate for going forward over the next 5 years hopefully that has removed any stumbling blocks stopping tenants making the decision to move home.
Whether it be ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit negotiations (and with the Election result the Tory’s might have to be ‘softer’ on those negotiations) the simple fact is, we aren’t building enough properties for us to live in. Both in Tamworth, the West Midlands and the wider UK, long-term population trends imply that rents will soon be growing faster than inflation again. Look at the projections by the Office of National Statistics.
|Population Estimates for Tamworth Borough Council over the next 20 years|
Tenants will still require a vibrant and growing rental sector to deliver them housing options in a timely manner. As the population grows in Tamworth, and wider afield, any restriction to the supply of rental properties (brought about by poor returns for landlords) cannot be in the long-term best interest of tenants. Simply put rents must go up!
The fact is that I see this as a short-term blip and rents will continue to grow in the coming years. With rents only accounting for 29% of a tenants’ disposable income, the ability for most tenants to absorb a rent increase does exist.
Don’t Forget you can keep up to date with all our articles on the Tamworth property Market here. https://www.tamworthpropertyblog.co.uk
Whatever property type you are thinking of adding to your portfolio next year I am sure it will let readily as the market remains strong with a lack of supply continuing to feed strong rental prices. If you are in town and would like to discuss any plans you may have, give me a call to meet for coffee on 07531484956 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
🙋 Landlord’s Question:
Over the weekend, my least favourite tenant asked to be released from the tenancy. To say I’m over the moon is an understatement.
A little bit of history – It was to be a joint tenancy so both parties were to be referenced, needless to say the fella failed however the wife passed and feeling under pressure from the couple and not wanting a void, I gave in and made a decision that was to be a costly mistake.
Shortly after the 12 month tenancy commenced the husband ran off with his best friend, we won’t go there! so he left and Mrs continued to live in the property. The rent was never paid on time and never the correct amount of rent. She would text in the early hours of the morning with excuse after excuse and was always looking for a shoulder to cry on. I was never able to issue notice as rent arrears never quite got to 2 months, she always managed to pay just the right amount to fend me off.
So into the fifth month I had come to the end of my tether. I thought about serving a no fault notice but couldn’t handle the thought of possibly having to apply to the Court for a possession order if she didn’t leave.
My breakthrough came over the weekend, she decided that she wanted to go back home to her parents as she no longer wanted to be responsible for the property and she’s asked if I would agree that she could leave.
So now I would be grateful for any advice to get this over with quickly, so that I can sleep easy again.
You could ask for a surrender of tenancy to be completed by Mrs.
So what is a Surrender of Tenancy letter?
It’s a mutual agreement between landlord and tenant to end a tenancy. This is called ‘surrender’. To be valid, both sides must agree, and it’s always best to put what’s been agreed in writing so everyone knows where they stand. If the tenancy is joint, all joint tenants and the landlord must agree to the surrender.
Whatever you do, it must be completed correctly and swiftly to cover all avenues. Ensuring illegal eviction can not be claimed at a later date or Mr deciding that he wants to move back into the property should he find out that Mrs has moved out.
You don’t mention if a deposit was taken and if there are still rent arrears, so try to reach an amicable agreement if at all possible. Let the tenant be released early from the tenancy and agree to keep any deposit if need be which can be used to offset any rent arrears. If the rent arrears are small, you may wish to write off anyway in order that you can get your property back and with the least amount of fuss.
Hopefully the lady has kept the property in a clean and tidy state so your spend will not be too much before finding your next tenants.
You may also wish to think about a “break clause” for any future 12 month tenancy agreements that you propose.
Until next week!
🙋 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?
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.
Until Next week.
🙋 Landlord’s Question:
My landlord insurance policy does not allow tenants with criminal convictions. To cover myself as it’s not possible to get a CRB or DBS check carried out on a potential tenant should I add a clause to the tenancy agreement stating that I do not take tenants with criminal convictions?
It’s a bit like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted! So perhaps your application for accommodation should have this question added.The potential tenants then complete the application and sign the declaration, they have answered all questions in a truthful manner, right? You have done your best.
Surely if the potential tenants had lied on the application form about criminal convictions, your insurance company would have to pay out, what more could you have done.
What if you found out a week later that they had lied on the application form and you want them out of your property, then ground 17 should be used to seek possession.
The tenant is the person, or one of the persons, to whom the tenancy was granted and the landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by—
* the tenant, or
* a person acting at the tenant’s instigation.
Without the application declaration, you have no proof that they had lied and would be stuck with your tenant for a while longer.
Until next week.