What Are Your Rights as a Landlord
With the rental sector enjoying a boom in industry, more and more people are interested in becoming a landlord or are simply curious to what it entails to be a landlord! Specifically, bridging finance is commonly used by buy-to-let investors and property developers who are looking to use the money to purchase a property, develop it and rent it out to tenants (both residential and commercial).
Overall, a lot of the responsibilities in a rental/tenancy agreement lie with the tenant or tenants, and people seem to know the rights of tenants more than they do with the rights of a landlord.
What Are Your Rights?
Payment of Rent:
- You should always have a tenancy agreement in place, such as a assured shorthold tenancy agreement. This will initially set out the amount for rent payable by the tenant to you, and when it will be paid.
- It is best to get your tenants to pay the rent to you by standing order, this way you are pretty much guaranteed to get your rent payments each month. Furthermore, you will have evidence of which payments you do receive, and more importantly, the payments you do not receive.
- If you find that you have a tenant or tenants that do not pay you for a set period, and there is no solution forthcoming, then you as the landlord have the ultimate right to serve the tenant or tenants an eviction notice. However, you must be sure to follow a procedure when doing this as explained a bit later on. You can also legally attempt to reclaim any unpaid rent, since it is legally yours.
- Check the terms and conditions laid out by the letting agent before signing an agreement.
Raising the Rent
- You may, at certain points in the tenancy, put up the rent. This will depend on the specifics of the tenancy agreement at hand. You may have to wait for a full fixed term to end before you can make the increase.
- You cannot simply just charge what you want though. The rent has to justifiable, and as do the reasons for upping the rent prices. The rent also has to be similar in comparison to other properties rent prices in the area. Otherwise, you tenant will be entitled to complain and then you will be forced to restore the price of the rent back to an acceptable enough level, or back to what it was before.
Damage and Neglect to the Property
- Unfortunately for your property, damage caused by those occupying the property and their visitors is not uncommon. The damage can easily be by accident, but in some cases it is on purpose. Either way, there will always be tenants who do cause damage to your property and belongings, if the property Is furnished. As a landlord, you may chose to pay for repairs as part of the agreement, this is quite normal – but have the right to evict if you believe major damage was done on purpose.
- Your tenants have a very high level of responsibility to keep the house or flat clean, in good condition and smoke-free (unless your agreement states otherwise). They are also expected to complete the basic maintenance like changing the lightbulbs and using the heating system responsibly. While being a landlord comes with the responsibility of carrying out most repairs, you do have the right to charge tenants for repairs if you see it fit.
- Tenants are obliged to stay within the terms of the tenancy agreement. This includes matters regarding as the keeping of pets – if damage or maintenance is required because of this, again you can take a deduction from the tenant’s damage deposit or ask them to pay for the cost of repair altogether, since they have violated the contract.
- However, the exception to all of this is for ‘fair wear and tear’ such as to carpets or other furnishings – you can’t charge the tenant for these since they are bound to be damaged in some way, shape or form.
- If you ever propose to charge a tenant for something of this nature, be sure that you have proof that the damage was caused while the property was occupied by those you are charging. You’ll want to take photos to refer to and should properly cost the level of damage caused, complete with quotes to back you up if the tenant chooses to dispute the figure.
- If any damage is considered beyond the ‘fair wear and tear’ rule and the tenant will not either repair it themselves or pay for the cost of repair, you have the right to serve an eviction notice and retain the sum of money from their damage deposit to cover the cost of the damage and repairing this damage.
- Your last resort may be to go through a legal process to ask the tenant to repair the damage at their expense, but that may not be a viable option as costs could escalate. There are those who specialise in tenant eviction services that could help you through the process of doing so.
Gaining Access to Your Property
- It is actually illegal for you as a landlord and owner to enter your own property without agreement from your tenant prior to asking for access. Landlords do have rights to what is dubbed ‘reasonable’ access to carry out any repairs for which they are responsible for, but you will always need to get permission from the tenant with at least 24 hours’ notice. If you don’t follow this process, which can be a simple mistake since it is actually your property, you could be prosecuted for ‘harassment’.
As a round up, here’s a quick reminder of what you do NOT have the rights to do as a landlord:
- Visit your tenants without prior warning or good reason, such as an inspection or to carry out duties of repairs, for example.
- You cannot make your tenants leave immediately, or physically force the out of the property and ‘help’ them move out. You must be careful not to make an illegal eviction, this can lead to serious legal action.
- It is a criminal offence to harass your tenants at all, this includes turning up to the property impromptu.