Your Rights as a Landlord

By Daniel Tannenbaum
Published: Jul 10, 2018

Knowledge Hub / Guide / Your Rights as a Landlord

Renting out properties is a very popular way to generate income, regardless of whether you have a background in property or not. With more and more landlords out there every year, it is important to know what rights you have and how this impacts your relationship with your tenants.

Rent Payments

  • You should always have a tenancy agreement with anyone living in your flat or home. The most commonly used agreement is the short hold tenancy agreement. This agreement will set out the amount of rent payable, and when it will need to be paid. 
  • Having your tenants pay you by standing order is the best way to work. This way you are pretty much guaranteed to get your rent payments at the same time each month. On top of this you will have evidence of payments you receive, and (in the worst case) do not receive.
  • If you end up having a tenant that does not pay you over a set period of time, and you cannot find a solution to the problem, then you have the right to serve an eviction notice. There is a process in place for this and the opportunity to legally reclaim any rent that has been unpaid since legally it belongs to you.
  • Always make sure to check the terms and conditions laid out by the letting agent before you sign any agreements.

Raising the Rent

  • At some points during a tenancy you may decide to put up the rent. This will depend on a number of factors that are outlined in the tenancy agreement. You might need to wait until the full term is finished before you are able to increase the rent.
  • However, you are not allowed to simply charge whatever you want. The rent needs to be justifiable and reasons to increase it could be due the popularity of the area, new transport links, renovations to the property and more.

It also needs to be comparable to other properties in the area otherwise you will open yourself up to complaints for your tenant. At this point you will be forced to change the price of the rent back to what it was before it was raised, or down to an acceptable level.

Damage and Neglect to Your Property

  • Damage caused by your occupants and their visitors is not uncommon. Sometimes the damage is by accident, but sometimes it is on purpose. Damage is part of the parcel as a landlord and you will need systems in place to deal with this. As the landlord you can choose to pay for these damages as part of any agreement you have with tenants (this is quite normal) but you do have the right to evict if you think damage was caused on purpose.
  • Your tenants are responsible (to a very high standard) to keep the property clean, smoke-free (unless stipulated elsewhere in the agreement) and in good condition. They are also expected to fulfill basic maintenance including using the heating system responsibly and changing lightbulbs. As a landlord it is your responsibility to carry out most repairs but you can also charge tenants for repairs if you think it is fit.
  • Tenants need to follow the rules laid out in the tenancy agreement. This includes keeping pets. If damage is caused by pets, as with any other damage or maintenance, again you can take this money from the tenant’s damage deposit or just ask them to pay for the whole cost of the repair since they broke the terms of the agreement.
  • The only exception to this is ‘fair wear and tear’ as is expected from someone living in a flat. This is relevant for carpets and other furnishings because you cannot expect wear and tear to not happen to these items as they are used all the time.
  • If you are thinking about charging a tenant for something that is ‘fair wear and tear’ then you will need to have proof that the damage was caused during the current tenant’s occupation. Take photos to reference and be sure to get the damage properly priced out by someone who is a professional. Make sure to have a number of quotes in place to show that you are not price gouging.
  • If damage is caused that is beyond ‘fair wear and tear’ and the tenant refuses to pay, or repair it themselves, you can serve an eviction notice and hold on to their damage deposit to reimburse your costs.
  • Your final resort might be to go through legal proceedings to make the tenant pay for the damage, but this can be incredibly costly. Consult someone who specializes in this before starting the process.

Can I Gain Access to My Property Whenever I Want?

No you cannot. It is illegal for you to enter your own property without asking tenants for agreement in advance. Landlords do have rights to ‘reasonable’ access if they need to carry out repairs for which they are held responsible. Even in this case you will need to get permission with at least 24 hours notice. If you don’t follow this process you can actually be prosecuted for harassment, even thought is your own property.

Important things you cannot do as a landlord

  • Visit your property without prior warning or a very good reason. An example of this is carrying out repairs.
  • You are unable to force your tenants to leave immediately, or physical force them out of the property. If you make an illegal eviction this can lead to significant and costly legal action.
  • Harassing your tenants at all is a criminal offence. This includes turning up to your property without warning.

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