Most tenancies are without conflict, however, when renting out a property, issues can arise between landlords and tenants that can’t always be resolved easily. Dealing with disputes can be time-consuming and costly so it’s important to understand what your rights are as a landlord and how to deal with tenants’ conflicts.
What are the general rights of landlords when renting property?
If you are letting out a property, you need to be aware of your rights. Here in the UK, landlord and tenant rights are set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Here are some of the general rights a landlord has:
- The right to increase rent (once a year or at the end of a tenancy.)
- The right to access the property (for example, to carry out repairs and property inspections) provides you give your tenant 24-48 hours’ notice.
- The right to take back (or repossess) your property at the end of a fixed-term tenancy (providing you give your tenants 2 months’ notice to vacate.)
- The right to evict a tenant if they breach the tenancy agreement, for example, by falling into rent arrears.
- The right to sell your property. You can do this at any time, however, you will either need to sell with a tenant in situ (i.e. to another landlord) or follow the correct processes to give your tenant notice to vacate the property.
- The right to remove a tenant’s belongings if they are left behind at the end of the tenancy. However, you will need to follow the correct processes, ensuring that you have notified the tenant that you intend to do this and on what date, allowing them to collect first. If they then fail to collect leftover belongings, you can charge for any costs you incur to remove them.
How can landlords deal with tenants’ conflicts?
Common disputes between landlords and their tenants include:
- Late or missed rent payments
- Antisocial behaviour such as noise complaints
- Repairs and maintenance
- Damage to the property
When it comes to potential conflicts with tenants, prevention is better than cure so ensure that you have a tenancy agreement in place that covers everything it should. If both you and your tenants are clear about who is responsible for what, it can help prevent misunderstandings and disagreements later and makes it clearer when either party breaches their obligations.
Good communication with your tenants and regular property inspections can also prevent issues from arising and taking out landlord insurance can offer you peace of mind as this covers things like damage to the property or contents and loss of rent.
When conflicts do arise, there are several steps a landlord can take.
If a tenant breaches the tenancy agreement and their landlord suffers financial losses as a result, the landlord may be able to make deductions from the tenant’s deposit. However, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme will only allow this if you have a deposit use clause in the tenancy agreement and the circumstances fit this clause.
If a tenant receives Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and is struggling to make rent payments or is in arrears, landlords can apply to have the rent paid directly to them.
Eviction can be a complex process and should always be a last resort only when all other attempts to resolve the conflict have failed. A Section 21 notice can be served without reason and informs tenants that they have to vacate the property at the end of their agreed tenancy or on a set date (which must be no sooner than 2 months from the date the notice is served.) A Section 8 notice can be served when a tenant has breached the tenancy agreement. You will have to state which terms they’ve broken and give them two months’ notice to leave the property, unless certain circumstances apply, such as serious rent arrears, in which case the notice period can be reduced to as little as two weeks.