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How to prevent problems with tenants

Although the vast majority of tenants will look after your property well, pay their rent on time and cause you no problems, there are occasions when things can go wrong. When this happens it’s important that you understand the options that are available to you.

Choosing the right tenants
‘Prevention is the best cure’ as they say and if you want to avoid headaches then it’s a good idea to do your homework before you agree a contract with a tenant.

A letting agent can help you vet potential tenants by performing credit checks. This is a good way of highlighting if a tenant currently has any issues with debt or has had any in the past. In order to be able to keep up with rent payments most tenants will rely on employment income and their employment status can also be verified by a landlord, as well as character references if required.

Taking an inventory
Once you have settled on a fully vetted tenant, you should take an inventory of any items that will remain in the house and record the overall state of the house which you should document with both written and dated photographic evidence. In order to strengthen your case you should have this inventory carried out by an independent third party.

Common disputes and what to do
The most common disputes surrounding tenants and landlords tend to be to do with repairs, deposits and rent.

For repairs, you should be aware of what your responsibilities are as a landlord and what you are in charge of looking after. For example, you should carry out an annual gas safety check and also ensure that smoke alarms are fitted and operating.  You are also responsible for repairs to the structure and exterior of the building and the provision of heating, water and gas appliances. 

As we discussed in our previous blog ‘deposit schemes for landlords’, landlords are required by law to protect the deposits of their tenants by entering the money into a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receipt. As a landlord you can make reasonable deductions from the deposit for fair amounts of ‘wear and tear’ and if this is disputed then the tenancy deposit scheme can help make a decision for you.

Finally, as a landlord it is important that you receive your rent on time, especially so if you are still paying repayments on a buy-to-let property.  If your tenant has slipped into arrears and is refusing to pay their rent then there are options available to you.

The first step you should take is to write to your tenant with a formal demand for payment. If after 14 days you receive no contact or payment then you should contact the tenants guarantor if applicable, then after 21 days you should inform them of your intentions to take legal advice and seek the help of a legal professional to take your case through the courts.

Although some tenants can cause problems for their landlords, the vast majority of times things will work out smoothly, as evidenced by the popularity of buying to let in recent years. For more information about buying a house to let it out, please read our Buy-To-Let Guide.

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