Has my Tamworth lodger become my accidential tenant?

My best friend came to visit me nearly three years ago, she stayed on and rented one of my rooms.  With low rent and fully inclusive of all bills, she had a great deal.

After 6 months I went to live with my partner so rented out another room in my house. Shortly after I moved out  my best friends son came to stay and has been there ever since.

When I was  advised recently I had created a HMO, I told my friend that her son had to leave the property, she advised that she would be vacating when he did. I then gave them a polite written notice that I wanted them both the leave.

When the second tenant left  6 weeks ago I locked her room to prevent it being used.

My question is – As nothing was ever put down on paper, Is my friend to be treated as a tenant?

What happens if she decides not to move out voluntarily? And how do I handle her son?

Many thanks

 

game over
game over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As they can only be a lodger while you live in the property it looks like you have created a tenancy.

Keep things as pleasant as possible and hope that things do not break down between all parties.  If your friend and her son do decide not to move out, I would recommend that you seek professional advice as soon as possible.

I hope all goes well.

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The pros and cons of using accelerated possession to evict a tenant

It is wise to look at the pros and cons of choosing the accelerated possession procedure when evicting tenants. It  can be a faster option but unfortunately cannot be used in all circumstances.

scales of justice
scales of justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landlords will need to serve notice correctly and then obtain a possession order from the court before they can proceed.

To use the accelerated possession procedure, the following must apply:

  • The tenant is on an assured shorthold tenancy
  • You have given the tenants at least 2 months written notice to quit under section 21 and they have not vacated by the date specified
  • The tenant moved into the property after 15th January 1989
  • If you took a deposit, it must have been put in one of the government deposit protection schemes
  • You are not claiming rent arrears

When you apply to court for accelerated possession, the court will send your tenants a copy of the application and they will have 14 days from the date of receipt to contest it.

A judge will review the application and decide whether or not to grant the possession order without it going to a hearing. Should the tenant challenge the application, the judge may well decide that a court hearing is needed. Once that has taken place, the judge will decide on the possession order.

Should a possession order be awarded, the judge will normally give the tenants up to  28 days to leave the property.

The pros

Accelerated possession  can be a faster way of recovering your property.

The court fee for standard possession and accelerated possession is currently £355.00.

The cons

As you cannot claim for rent arrears and  should you wish to try to recover any,  you will need to either use the standard possession procedure or make a separate court claim for the arrears. If your tenants are having financial difficulties you may find there is no chance of recouping any of the monies owed!

If your tenants are on a fixed term tenancy, you cannot evict them until the fixed term has ended.  On a periodic tenancy, the procedure can only be used after the first six months have passed. So the whole notice period could be longer than two months.

If you make any mistakes with either the section 21 notice or the application to the court, your application will probably be thrown out and you would either have to ask for a hearing or start the process all over again.

It has been known for judges to give tenants up to 6 weeks to leave a property in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Enforcement

If tenants do not leave after the date provided on the possession order, you will then need to decide what action to  take to evict the tenants. You can either use the County Court bailiffs or request leave to use a High Court Enforcement Officer.

You can apply under section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984 for permission to transfer the possession order to the High Court for enforcement by an High Court Enforcement Officer. The best time to apply for permission is when making the initial application for the possession order.

County Court bailiffs will be cheaper however as the courts are very busy, you may find that you wait up to 6 weeks for an appointment for the eviction.

High Court Enforcement Officer’s are usually able to obtain a writ within a few days and carry out the eviction shortly after.

It is always unpleasant to evict tenants however you are running a business and not a charity. So whichever route of possession you decide upon, if you are unsure I would recommend seeking professional advice.

Until next time

 

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Leaks and Flooding – Is my Tamworth Landlord responsible?

If you live in a flat you may occasionally have an issue with leaks and flooding from neighbouring flats. When this happens tenants tend to look to their landlord to rectify the situation, but it is not that straight forward.

It is a landlords duty to repair structural items such as walls, ceilings and plasterwork in a rental property should a leak occur. A landlord should accept responsibility once they are made aware of the damage. Once informed, the landlord must carry out all repairs in a timely period and to a reasonable standard.

Who is responsible for tenants belongings

Who is responsible for tenants belongings?

Tenant’s possessions may have been damaged due to a leak  and they may assume that the landlord is responsible for replacing these items, this is not necessarily so!

Where the damage has been caused by a leak or flooding from a third party’s flat then the tenant should pursue a claim against the third party.  If the tenant has contents insurance, the tenant is advised to make a claim on that policy and leave it to the insurance company to pursue the third party. Where no contents insurance exists, the tenant is advised to take court action against the third party to recover any money for the damage to their possessions.

A landlord may be liable for his tenants possessions if the leak or flooding has originated because the rented property is in a state of disrepair.

I would recommend that all tenants take out contents insurance if their budget allows them too.

If you are thinking of getting into the property rental market and don’t know where to start, speak to us for impartial advice and guidance to get the best return on your investment. For more information about other potential investment properties that we could introduce you to, or to ask about our thoughts on your own investment choices, call us now on 01827 425195, you can always email me on  Lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk

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Bad Tamworth tenants and the law

What would happen if you wandered in Marks and Spencers  helped yourself to some lunch and walked out without paying?

Do you think you would get away scot free without paying or would one of those beefy security guards feel your collar?

You may even end up in court with a criminal record, at the very least you would be made to pay for the goods!

Even rogue landlords face hefty fines and penalties and are put on the “rogues board”.

Well did you know that tenants who decide not to pay their rent often walk away without even so much as a slap on the wrist.

Take my friend Alice, a pleasant lady who always sees the good in people. Alice has a tenant – Miss X who decided she no longer wanted to pay her rent even though she’s on a very generous salary. Miss X even thought it was all perfectly civilised to carry on living in Alice’s apartment.

So Alice couldn’t report Miss X to the police unlike M & S, instead she had a long drawn out and expensive eviction process she had to go through. To make matters worse the beloved sofa and dining suite that were part of Alice’s mothers estate disappeared with Miss X.  Alice reported her complaint to the police, missing furniture and nearly nine months rent unpaid. The response from the police “sorry, nothing we can do, this is a civil matter and not a criminal offence”,

So if you steal even as much as a bag of crisps from M & S it’s a criminal offence whereas stealing thousands from a landlord it is only a civil matter.

Landlords have no option if they want to try and get the money owed to them, they have to take their ex-tenants to Small Claims Court. Even if they succeed in getting a County Court Judgment  against the tenant, there’s no guarantee the landlord will receive any money.

According to the National Landlords Association, the past year saw 35 per cent of landlords experience rent arrears – 29 per cent had their property damaged by tenants and 13 per cent experienced anti-social behaviour.

While all this is going on, landlords still have to carry on paying the mortgage and maintaining the property while the tenant lives rent free.

Organisations, renters and their sympathisers have little or no sympathy for the supposedly   “fat cat” landlord in this position,  but let’s look at the bigger picture.

For every non-paying tenant waiting for the bailiff to arrive before they vacate, there’s a good tenant complaining about the lack of rental properties or the cost of renting has risen. Many a wronged landlord finding themselves thousands out of pocket will look to recoup any losses once they have possession of the property. So the rent is increased for the next tenant.

If the Government is keen on protecting tenants from rogue landlords, why not protect landlords from bad tenants too?

To my mind, it’s only the same as shoplifting and should be the same crime – NOT A CIVIL MATTER.

Until next week

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How to be a good Tamworth Landlord

How to be a good Landlord!

Putting processes in place can help to make property management a lot easier, here are some tricks of the trade:

 Communicating with tenants:

  • Writing is always better than phone
  • Do whatever is easiest for them –  text, Facebook or even   WhatsApp
  • You don’t have to give out your phone number, as long as you are contactable  – You can Skype
  • Set out ground rules at the start of the tenancy about when you’re contactable, and stick to them! Once you deviate from this your tenants will always expect you to answer them, whatever the time of day.

 

 

 

 

Chasing up rent :-

  • Ideally use standing order or direct debit – you’ll know it’s set up properly
  • Diarise rent date and contact the tenant on the same day if the rent doesn’t materialise
  • Have a process –  e.g. text day 1, text day 2, call day 3, final warning day 4
  • Don’t fall for those sob stories, you are running a business!

Dealing with emergencies :-

  • What is an “Emergency” you need to set ground rules
  • Instruct tenants about what to do in an emergency.  You may not always be the best person to call first.
  • Perhaps consider landlord emergency cover

Dealing with routine maintenance :-

  • Build up trades contacts and ensure you treat them well
  • Save a visit by seeing if it’s something the tenant can easily fix  e.g. washing machine filter or  unblock the  sink
  • Communicate clearly about damp and condensation – explain the difference, send yearly leaflets “how to guide”
  • Use routine inspections to look for early signs of repairs that will need doing.
  • Ensure you also check for early signs of repair works on the external of the property

Inspections :-

  • Quick check of each room
  • Check smoke alarms
  • Visually inspect electrics
  • Look for condensation
  • Look for early signs of repairs that will be needed

Be proactive and stop issues from happening in the first place, remember the saying “work smart, not hard”.

Until next time

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My thoughts on the future of the Tamworth Buy-To-Let Market

 I was recently reading a report by the Home website which suggested that hordes of landlords are selling their buy-to-let investments due to increasing burdens on them in the buy-to-let market. Their findings suggest the number of new properties that came onto the market nationally (for sale) jumped by 11% across the UK as a result.

Those increasing burdens include new tax rules coming in over the next 3 to 4 years and the announcement that all self-managing landlords (i.e. landlords that don’t use a letting agent to look after their buy-to-let property) will soon need to register with a compulsory redress scheme to resolve tenant arguments and disputes; as Westminster wants to heighten standards in the Private Rented Sector.

Interestingly I was chatting with a self-managed landlord from Bonehill, when I was out socially over the festive period, who didn’t realise the other recent legislations that have hit the Private Rented sector, including the ‘Right to Rent’ regulations which came in to operation last year. Landlords have to certify their tenants have the legal right to live in the UK. This includes checking and taking copies of their tenant’s passport or visa before the tenancy is signed. Of course, if you use a letting agent to manage your property, they will usually sort this for you (as they will with the redress scheme when that is implemented).

If you are a self-managed landlord though, the consequences are severe because if you let a property to a tenant who is living in the UK illegally, you will be fined up to £3,000. That same Bonehill landlord met me for coffee at Druckers  in the New Year, and I checked all his paperwork and ensured he was on the right side of the law going forward – and I offer the same to any landlord in the Tamworth area if you want me to cast my eye over your buy to let matters (and at no cost)

But what of all these extra properties being dumped onto the market in Tamworth? When I looked at the records the number of properties on the market in Tamworth now, as opposed to a year ago, the numbers tell an interesting story …

 

1st Jan 2017 1st Jan 2018
Detached 110 162 47%
Semi 90 105 17%
Terraced 43 35 -19%
Flat 33 45 36%
Plots +
Other
7 10 43%
Total 283 357 26%

Overall, Tamworth doesn’t match the national trend, with the number of properties on the market actually rising by 26% in the last year.  It was particularly interesting to see the number of detached increase by 47%, yet the number of terraced on the market drop by 19%.

However, speaking with my team and other property professionals in the town, the majority of that movement in the number of properties and the types of properties on the market isn’t down to landlords dumping their properties on the market. The whole property market has changed in the last 12 months, with the majority of the change in the number and type of properties for sale due to the owner-occupier market, not landlords (a subject I will write about soon in my Tamworth Property Market blog later this Spring?). You see, for the last ten years, each month there has always been a small number of Tamworth landlords who have been releasing their monies from their Tamworth buy to let properties – as is the nature of all investments!

Nationally, the number of rental properties coming on to the market to rent fell by 16% in Q4 2017 compared to Q4 2016 .. but that isn’t because there are 16% less rental properties to rent – it’s because tenants are staying in their rental properties longer meaning less are coming on the market to be RE-LET.

Nevertheless, some Tamworth landlords will want to release the equity held in their Tamworth buy to let properties in 2018. All I suggest is that you speak with your letting agent first, as putting a rental property on the open market often spooks the tenants to hand in their notice days after you put it on the market (because they don’t like the uncertainty and also believe they will become homeless!). This means you have an empty property, costing you money with no rent coming in.  However, some letting agents who specialise in portfolio management have select lists of landlords that will buy with sitting tenants in. If you have a portfolio in the Tamworth area and are considering selling some or all of them – drop me a line as I might have a portfolio landlord for you (with the peace of mind that you won’t have any rental voids).

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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 – 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!

 

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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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