Whether you’re new to dealing with tenants, or simply need some advice, here at Kings Lettings we’ve put together a simple guide to help you settle tenants to their new home. We will explore the obligations and rights both you and your tenants have, as well offer tips you need to consider when starting a new tenancy agreement.
As a tenant, they have the right to:
- Live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair.
- Have their deposit returned when the tenancy ends – and in some circumstances have their deposit protected.
- Challenge excessively high charges.
- Know who their landlord is.
- Live in the property undisturbed.
- See an Energy Performance Certificate for the property.
- Be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent.
- Have a written agreement if they have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years.
WHEN THEY START A NEW TENANCY
The following Government document sets out the roles and responsibilities of both parties when letting or renting a property in the private rented sector: Landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities in the private rented sector.
HOW TO CREDIT CHECK YOUR TENANT
Running a secure credit check on your tenant can help you protect your property and the income it generates for you. It’s essential to check your tenant has a good credit history and pays their bills on time.
Information from a credit check can vary depending on the depth of report you opt for.
Most credit checks will cover:
- Confirmation of name
- Past and current addresses
- Date of birth;
- Known employers
- Bank accounts
- Credit card accounts
- Payment patterns
- Credit card limits
WHAT INFORMATION DO YOU NEED TO RUN A CREDIT CHECK ON A TENANT?
To run a credit check on a tenant, you need to the following information:
- The tenant’s full legal name
- Addresses for at least the last two years.
- Social security number
- Date of birth
- Current employer
- Current landlord
Please note: You must follow the guidelines set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and must get the potential tenant’s written permission to go ahead. The tenant must date and sign the document to prove they agree to the credit check.
TENANT DEPOSIT PROTECTIONS
As a landlord, you must put your tenants deposit in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) if you rent out your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007. In England and Wales the deposit can be registered with:
You must put your deposit in the scheme within 30 days of getting it.
END OF TENANCY
You must return your tenants deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing how much they will receive back.
TENANT DEPOSIT DISPUTES
If you’re in a dispute with your tenant, then their deposit will be protected in the TDP scheme until the issue is sorted out.
You don’t have to protect a holding deposit (money they pay to ‘hold’ a property before an agreement is signed). Once they become a tenant, the holding deposit becomes a deposit, which you must then protect.
DEPOSITS BY A THIRD PARTY
You must use a TDP scheme even if your deposit is paid by someone else, such as a rent deposit scheme or their parents/friend/relative.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR TENANT ISN’T PAYING RENT?
Dealing with non-payment of rent can be both time-consuming and stressful. The best advice, when it comes to evicting someone who doesn’t pay their rent, is to understand both the legal process and what the law says about tenants’ rights, as well as yours as a landlord. It’s also critical to document all of your actions and communication with your tenant so you have a solid record.
1/ KEEP A RECORD OF ALL PAYMENTS
Ensure you have robust and efficient systems in place with regular documentations. Keep a record of when rent payments are due and have been paid whether you have one or multiple tenants. Make sure you send dated receipts each month so should you have to make an eviction you’ll have all the evidence of payment transactions.
2/ ADDRESS ISSUES WITH TENANTS
If you’ve been waiting for a payment from a tenant it’s worth talking through their situation. If they’ve been a reliable tenant but are having a short-term issue that has affected their cash flow, together you may be able to find a solution. You could even suggest they explore other sources of help such as applying for housing benefits.
3/ SEND A LETTER DEMANDING PAYMENT
If your tenants are now answering calls, send them a letter stating the outstanding arrears to be paid immediately, and that future rent is paid in full on the established day. Be sure to put forward that failing to pay could result in court action.
Nevertheless, always act professionally, remaining reasonable and calm. Tenants could claim you have harassed them should you act out of line.
Even after your tenants owe rent, you must not, under any circumstances, enter the property without permission, remove their belongings or change the locks. You must go through a strict court process.
If the tenant still hasn’t paid 14 days after the rent is due, send an additional letter stating that if they don’t pay, you intend to seek possession of your property.
You then need to follow this up with another letter if the tenant hasn’t paid their rent after 21 days.
4/ SEND A LETTER TO THEIR GUARANTOR
If your tenant has a guarantor, write to them after 14 days of the rent being due. If the matter hasn’t been resolved after 21 days, write to the guarantor again.
5/ CLAIM POSSESSION OF YOUR PROPERTY
When your tenant is two months in arrears you can begin the process of seeking possession of your property.
Under the Housing Act 1988, there are two routes you can take to evict tenants with assured shorthold tenancies – a Section 8 or a Section 21 notice.
Check out these sections through the Government’s evicting tenants notices.
6/ TAKE YOUR TENANT TO COURT
If your tenant has failed to respond to your attempts for payment, you are entitled to take legal action to seek possession of your property. You can also make a claim for the arrears and reasonable costs incurred. Be sure you have collected all evidence to back your case.
7/ COVER THE COSTS OF UNPAID RENT
Landlord insurance products are available to cover you for loss of rent and the costs involved in evicting a tenant. Please bear in mind there are certain conditions to this cover, such as ensuring you do thorough background checks first.
If you’re looking for further advice related to renting or letting your property then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Whether you’re a first time landlord, taking on a new property, or simply looking to encourage tenant interest, we’re always happy to share our expertise here at Kings Lettings.
In the meantime be sure to check out our blog where you’ll find a variety of helpful articles, you can explore our first time landlords guide and delve into what tenants look for when renting right here.
If you’re thinking about renting out property in the London, Reading, Maidenhead, Staines and Windsor area, or are looking for further advice, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Whether you’re a first time landlord, taking on a new property, or simply looking to encourage tenant interest, we’re always happy to share our expertise here at Kings Lettings.
KINGS LETTINGS, 103 HIGH STREET, MAIDENHEAD, BERKSHIRE, SL6 1JX
Lettings and property management offices in London, Reading, Maidenhead, Staines & Windsor.
T: +44 (0)16 2863 2188 | E: MAIDENHEAD@KINGS-LETTINGS.CO.UK