The key to keeping minor disputes between landlords and tenants form becoming real problems is knowing what the law demands of each, and what the exact terms of the contact that binds them are.
Here are a few tips to ensure both party’s rights are respected.
Prevent things from escalating by ensuring you know both the letter – and the legal limits on – your tenancy agreement
Your tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between Landlord and Tenant. It will detail what the landlord is responsible for and equally what responsibilities belong to the tenant.
THE LANDLORD MUST
No matter what it might say in the agreement, the landlord has a few statutory responsibilities. They must:
1) Meet Safety Standards:
Gas safety certificates need to be provided for each gas appliance on the premises. If furnished, the furniture must meet safety standards and that all electrical equipment is safe.
2) Inform the Tenant of How to Make the Rental Payment:
This may be by includes direct debit, an address where they can pay in cheque or cash. If rent is due weekly, the landlord must provide a rent book.
3) Provide Certain Information:
The landlord must provide Energy Performance Certificates at the start of any tenancy. They (or their letting agent) must also disclose the names of the landlord and letting agent, and an England or Wales address for both.
4) Follow Certain Rules When You Wish a Tenant to Leave the Property:
In addition to the terms outlined in the tenancy agreement, you have additional duties under the Tenancy Eviction Deregulation Bill of 2015, especially the duty to serve a Section 21 Notice before attempting eviction. Evicting a tenant outside of these terms may be illegal, and advice should be taken before perusing such a course. The intricacies of the Deregulation Bill, and Sections 21 and 33 in particular will warrant a blog post all of their own.
5) While the property is occupied the Landlord should not disturb the Tenant:
You must make appointments at suitable times (where ever possible) to gain access to the premises.
THE TENANT MUST
In the same way, the tenant has certain duties to the landlord, even if they aren’t detailed in the agreement. It is the duty of the tenant to:
1) Report Repairs:
The Tenant must report all repairs immediately to the landlord or their designated agent, and allow them access to the property for the work to be done. The tenant should also report things they are not worried about being resolved to make the landlord aware of any issues.
2) Pay Rent on Time:
While there may be times a tenant is tempted to withhold rent because of a dispute, they are generally bound to continue paying and should instead put all issues in writing.
3) Take Reasonable Care of the Premises:
This will include ventilating the property correctly, disposing of rubbish in a suitable fashion, not disrupting the neighbours, and taking care of the internal furnishings. It also includes not smoking or having pets in the home if those are forbidden by the rental agreement.
Wear and tear on carpets and other furnishings is not the tenant’s responsibility, but accidental spills or burn marks would be.
Following the terms in the contract and knowing what you are and are not responsible for will avoid many common issues, and prevent them from becoming disputes. Consult your tenancy agreement and always keep in contact about any concerns either party might have!