Tricky Tenants? : Your questions answered

Even the best tenant can find themselves in a tricky situation, and as a landlord this can often have an impact on you, and your bottom line. But when your tenant starts causing you trouble, what steps can you take to help them, and yourself? NLA expert and London landlord Richard Blanco and the Landlord University's Polly Rivers discussed some of the common issues (as well as the trickier situations !) during our recent Tricky Tenant webinar, and provided practical tips for solutions that could help both you AND your tenant. Listen back here:

Q. What support can I get for a vulnerable tenant I'm having to evict (damage to property, 30+ cats, rent arrears and can I get any support for a clean-up (tenant is DSS)?

A. Possibly Social Services may be able to help but would depend on the circumstances. You should always make sure you take a deposit and a guarantor if you are unsure as to tenants ability to manage rent or the property.

Q. What’s the best thing to do when tenants in a HMO fall out and can’t stand living under the same roof?

A. It depends if they are on a joint tenancy or not. If they are joint tenants a landlord cannot really get too involved. If they are individual tenants you can serve a Section 21 if appropriate on either one or both.

Q. What are the proper steps a landlord should take should a tenant die during the tenancy period (assuming they are the sole tenant)?

A. Notice should be served on the tenants’ estate.

Q. What can we do when girl tenant moves her boyfriend and child into her studio flat, but denies they are living there, and tenancy agreement states one person?

A. If you do not have adequate proof you can serve a Section 21 to as tenant to leave at end of fixed term.

Q. I have 4 tenants holding over on a joint periodic tenancy - what if one of them accommodated an additional person in their room unbeknownst to me until I carried out an inspection?

A. Ask them to get rid of their guest or you would have to serve notice on all tenants.

Q. When the tenant's visa is going to expire, but he can't be granted for extension, what can a landlord do?

A. Serve an appropriate notice, advice should be taken to determine what is the best notice as depends on the circumstances.

Q. What is considered a visitor and what a person who is living in the house? What is the number of days that determine a visitor from a semi-permanent person (girlfriend/boyfriend/sibling/friend/...)?

A. There is no clear cut answer to this. Seek advice.

Q. My tenant calls in the housing officer for the least little thing. How do I convince him that I should be first contact?

A. Let him know that you are keen to rectify any problems and things can be sorted more quickly if he comes straight to you.

Q. Can I sue a tenant who has been put in prison?

A. Yes, but if he has no assets you may just be throwing good money after bad. You have 6 years in which to sue someone for a debt so it may be worth seeing if he gets employment upon his release before spending money on a claim.

Q. Is it viable to charge tenants for anti-social behaviour complaints if specified in contract? Problem is the tenants causing noise.

A. No, this will not be enforceable.

Q. What can I do when the tenant does not switch on the heating in cold weather?

A. Remind them that damage caused to the property as a result of not adequately heating the property will be their responsibility.

Q. What constitutes harassment of tenant?

A. There are a number of actions that can be deemed harassment. These include but are not limited to interfering or cutting off utilities, using or threatening violence, interferes with belongings or mail, discriminates on gender, race or sexuality.

Q. How can I put a value to my labour after a tenant has wrecked my flat and left, declining to do the check out?

A. Landlords are not usually compensated for their time. You should obtain quotes for any work from professionals.

Q. How to deal with a tenant smoking cannabis in the property?

A. Ask the tenant in the first instance to stop. If not serve an appropriate notice asking them to leave.

Q. Can I sell a tenants outstanding rent to a debt collector?

A. Yes, but the returns are usually a fraction of the actual debt. Consider using the small claims court procedure if the tenant is working or has other assets.

Q. Do I have to serve a section 21 before a section 8?

A. No.

Q. What to do when one tenant does not sign check-out report? Deposit needs to be returned in 10 days. Can it be returned to the lead tenant and he/she deals with the distribution? All 4 are on one AST.

A. The joint tenant can sign on behalf of all joint tenants.

Q. What is the best way to deal with a tenant who has a dog when the tenancy agreement has a strict no pets policy?

A. Ask for a higher deposit. Serve a section 21 as soon as possible.

Q. Am I breaking the terms of my mortgage if I allow my tenant to sublet?

A. Most probably, check with your lender.

Q. A tenant has informed me that she has changed her name. She hasn’t said if it is marriage, deed pol etc. I need to serve s Section 8. Which name do I put on the Section 8 Notice?

A. You should serve it to the tenant in her new name with ‘Formally known as….’ In brackets.

If you have any further questions about tricky tenants and how to manage your situation, the NLA Advice Line is free for all members. For membership contact the NLA at 020 7840 8900.

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