So, as a landlord, it’s as important that you are aware of your rights as well as your responsibilities. In the case of a problem or dispute, knowing your rights can help to resolve things before they escalate – hopefully helping to keep you and your tenants civil and cooperative.
Our guide will help inform you about the rights you have as a landlord.
Inspecting your property
A common cause of tension between landlords and tenants occurs over confusion about the landlord’s right to inspect their property. Being aware of your rights and making sure that everything is clearly stipulated in your tenancy agreement, will help to avoid any misunderstandings.
As a landlord, there will be inevitable reasons why you need to visit a property that you Let. As long as you have reasonable justification, and have given the tenants at least 24 hours’ notice, you are well within your rights to do so. ‘Reasonable justification’ refers to your need to inspect the condition of the property or to make repairs.
Since your tenants also have the right to exclusive enjoyment of the property, your rights to inspect and visit must be balanced against this. Try to arrange a time for your visit which will be suitable for your tenants and limit your routine visits to a few times a year (quarterly at most).
Carrying out maintenance work
When it comes to making repairs, it’s usually safe to assume that tenants will be on board, but not always. Disagreements can typically occur over when maintenance work should be carried out or how frequently landlords want access to the property for repairs. Even though the law makes it clear that it is your right to access the property to carry out repairs, try to do this in a way which will be most considerate to your tenants.
With all routine or non-urgent repair work, you will have to give 24 hours’ notice. However, in the case of emergency situations, you have the right to enter the property without notice or permission. Emergency situations are classed as circumstances in which there is risk to life or risk of severe damage to the property (such as suspected gas leaks, fire, flooding or if the integral structure is compromised).
Tenants whose rent is in arrears
If you are experiencing difficulty ensuring that tenants pay their rent, then you have the right to take action.
The first important thing to do is to ensure that you have kept clear records of when rent and utility bill payments were due and missed. You can send an invoice each month with the details of how much they owe for the stipulated period. If you are renting the property on a joint tenancy agreement, this is particularly useful as you can issue receipts for those who have paid, making it transparent who has not paid. Even a joint tenancy agreement with many separate occupants, is all of the tenants’ responsibilities to ensure that you are paid – so, remind them of that.
If the situation escalates, you should speak to your tenant to find out what’s wrong. If you don’t receive a reply that you’re satisfied with, then you can write to the tenant, contact their guarantor or even serve them with a Section 8 eviction notice and take them to court to claim possession of what you are owed if they have not responded to your previous demands for payment.
When you can legally evict
There are two pieces of legislation you need to know about concerning your right to evict tenants. These are: Section 21 and Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.
A Section 21 notice is for use if you want tenants to leave at the end of a fixed-term tenancy, or if you want to trigger a break clause that was outlined in your contract. A Section 8 notice, in contrast, can be used when the tenant has broken the terms of their tenancy agreement. In these cases, you will need to have grounds and evidence for the eviction (such as if the tenant has not paid rent, is being a nuisance or is causing damage to the property). At the moment, the period of notice for eviction for a Section 8 is 4 months in England and 6 months in Wales, but this is likely to change.
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