Problematic Tenants & How To Deal with Them

by Ashley Auckle

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Problematic tenants can be both costly, and a misery for landlords. If you’ve been lucky enough not to experience undesired tenants, perhaps these examples will give you an idea of what we mean.

A lady, in the north of England, rented a two bedroom flat for herself. What her landlord didn’t know was that she would also, after moving in, bring her 12 cats into the property and consider it perfectly acceptable to allow them to use the carpet as their litter tray. Beyond the replacement of the carpets, the property also had to be heat treated for infestation.

A more common problem is that of more occupants than originally expected. Upon a visit to his 4 bedroom property in west London, one landlord found the tenants had also turned the reception rooms into bedrooms. As it turned out, there were 16 people staying at the property, most of who worked day and night shifts and so shared bedrooms according to their work rota! This many occupants meant the wear and tear on the property was greatly increased and a lot of work was needed after the tenant’s eviction.

How to avoid problematic tenants

Unfortunately, there is no set procedure that can keep problematic tenants away from your property, and as a landlord, you must accept them as an occupational hazard. However, there are precautions you can follow that could help limit the chances of getting a bad apple as well as limiting the hassle and costs involved with dealing with them:

Vetting and referencing. There are many referencing agencies in the UK that, for a small fee, will produce a report stating your potential tenants renting history, employment income and any county court judgements. This report will you’re your decision in whether to proceed with the tenancy.

Invest in a professional inventory clerk. An in-depth inventory stating the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy and at the end, highlighting any damage caused by the tenants will help your case considerably if the deposit return was disputed and the case went to the tenancy deposit scheme for arbitration.

Treat them fairly. If you can maintain a good relationship with your tenants, you may naturally avoid them causing you problems such as late rent or unfair demands.

How to deal with problematic tenants

Unfortunately, as a landlord you do not have the legal option of just clearing your unwanted tenants out of the property and changing the locks. In order to guarantee an end result, you must be considered in the way you start the process.

If your tenants have gone bad, a good first, and often-productive approach, is to meet with them and discuss your concerns. If the tenants are reasonable, you may find you can improve the situation through discourse. If you have already decided you want your tenants to leave or suspect they will be difficult at vacating, you could also use this approach to negotiate their departure without incurring the costs of eviction notices.

If this does not produce the desired result, there are two official ways of giving tenants notice. To ensure the desired result, you must fully comply with these procedures and it may well pay to invest in legal help to avoid any mistakes.

Section 21

A Section 21 notice to quit is applicable if your tenancy is coming to the end of its fixed term, or has finished and become a periodic tenancy. The Section 21 must be served alongside your notice to the tenant. This notice should be in writing and be sent according to the correct period specified within the agreement, usually two months. The notice must be dated, include your name and address, your tenants name and address and state the date of vacation. These details are important in case the tenants do not move out, as you can use the notice as evidence to a court that you have followed procedure.

Section 8

A section 8 is applicable when the tenants are in breach of their agreement, eg: late rent payment or damage to the property, and can be used to obtain a court eviction order very quickly. You can service a section 8 notice on your tenants much like the Section 21 but without waiting for the end of the tenancy or notice period. If your tenants do not vacate, you can apply for a possession order through the courts. To do so, the courts will require a copy of the notice served and clear evidence of the breach of contract before issuing a possession order and/or a money order.

Learn how to find great tenants for your property with Every Landlord’s Guide to Finding Great Tenants by Janet Portman Attorney. A long-needed, ultra-complete guidebook that every residential landlord should have to find and select quality tenants.

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