Managing a tenancy can seem a little daunting but by following these simple guidelines you will be able to build and maintain a good relationship with your tenant.
Keep in touch
Once your tenant has moved in talk about how you will keep in touch and agree a routine for visits remembering that your tenant has the right to quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the property.
You or your agent should always be available by telephone during normal working hours but your also tenant also needs to know how to get in touch if there’s an emergency at another time. After all if a pipe bursts or someone breaks in you’ll want to know about it as soon as possible.
You should inspect the property regularly to make sure everything is alright in the property but remember to always give your tenant at least 24 hours’ before visiting.
It’s usually best to inspect your property when the tenant is at home so you can discuss any issues. When you inspect the property you should
- Refer to the inventory or check in report;
- Ask your tenant if there are any problems you need to know about;
- Look for signs of damp caused by condensation or evidence that property isn’t been properly ventilated;
- Agree any repairs or work that you will do and the timescales for completion
Carrying out repairs
The law says you must complete repairs within a reasonable time. What is reasonable depends on the type of repair. You should always try to let your tenant know when the work will be done. You should keep a record of all the repairs you carry out.
Remember you must respond to emergency repairs as soon as reasonably possible.
Access to carry out repairs
Tenants have a right to “quiet enjoyment of the property but you are can enter at a reasonable time of day to carry out repairs. You must give 24 hours’ notice unless there is an emergency such as a gas leak or break-in or a clause in the Tenancy Agreement allows you access for urgent repairs such as leaking water.
If your tenant won’t give you access you will need to get a court order to enter the property to carry out the works.
Collecting the rent
Your Tenancy Agreement should say how much the rent is, when it is due and how it should be paid. A good system for collecting and recording rent will reduce the risk of arrears and allow for early intervention if there is a problem. You should always:
- Keep accurate and up to date records
- Issue, and keep a copy of, receipts
- Provide confirmation of any housing benefit payments you receive
It is important to remember that:
- The dates of housing benefit payments may be different from the date the rent is due
- Your tenant’s obligation to pay rent will not change because of a benefit claim
- You need to provide written confirmation of any changes to the Tenancy Agreement and keep a copy yourself
The law says you must give your tenant a rent book if:
- The Tenancy Agreement says the rent should be paid weekly; or
- The rent is actually being paid weekly
It is a criminal offence if you don’t provide a rent book in these circumstances.
If the rent is not due or paid weekly you don’t have to provide a rent book but it is a good way to keep a record of rent that has been paid. A rent book can also be used to help resolve any disputes.
Increasing the Rent
How much the rent is must be included in the Tenancy Agreement. The amount cannot be changed during the contract unless:
- It is adjusted by the Rent Assessment Committee or Residential Property Tribunal Service;
- There is a clause in the Tenancy Agreement saying it can be changed; or
- You and your tenant agree that it can be increased
If your Tenancy Agreement is an Open Ended Periodic Tenancy you can increase the rent by agreement with your tenant. If you can’t reach an agreement you will need to use the procedure set out in S13 of the Housing Act. To increase the rent you will need to issue a Proposed Notice of Increase of Rent.
If your Tenancy Agreement is for a Fixed Term and you want to increase the rent you need to serve a Proposed Notice of Increase after the fixed term ends and before a new contract is signed.
A Proposed Notice of Increase must be served using a “prescribed form”.
People can be late paying their bills for a number of reasons. If your tenants rent is late you need to decide how long to wait before making a formal request for the amount due. The law doesn’t say how long you should wait but suggests two weeks as a reasonable time.
Your letter requesting the rent should be formal but simple. Ask why the rent hasn’t been paid and if there is any evidence to support the reasons for the delay. You could also remind your tenant that Courts see rent as a priority debt to be paid before other debts or liabilities.
It’s a good idea to suggest that you tenant gets independent advice from Citizens Advice Bureau or Money Matters or that they talk to an Advice and Support Worker if their circumstances have changed. This could help you and your tenant as it may mean you don’t need to take any more formal action.
If your tenant has a lot of arrears its always best to take advice before deciding the best way to claim the amount you are legally entitled to receive.
It’s important to keep detailed records for every property you own and for every Tenancy Agreement including:
- All papers relating to the property
- A copy of the Tenancy Agreement, inventory and other papers connected with the tenancy
- Copies of receipts for rent and deposits
- Guarantees for items such as furniture and repairs
- Copies of safety compliance certificates
- Copies of any letters between you and your tenant
- Notes from meetings and inspection visits
- Copies of reference checks
- Details of how the tenancy was conducted which you may need if you are asked for references
- Details of any financial information or transactions which you may need when it’s time to complete your tax return