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More people live in rented accommodation than ever before, and for the most part tenants will treat you and your property with great respect. However many landlords will encounter difficulties from time to time, with tenants who for various reasons may not be able to keep up with their rent, due to ill health, job loss or relationship breakdown for example. But for some tenants it can be an uphill battle trying to get them to pay rent on time and care for your property.

It can be tempting to avoid a letting agent due to high fees involved or time consuming red tape, but in the long term a good letting agent can save you thousands of pounds and lots of time. They can take on the responsibility of carefully checking prospective tenants through credit reference agencies, employment references and previous landlord references or even guarantors. Many agents can also arrange to deal directly with the tenant for the duration of the tenancy, and some letting agencies also offer to guarantee any shortfall in rent, fully securing your income and mortgage repayments.

Whether your property is furnished or not, always arrange an inventory of the condition as well as the contents within the home. Take photos if you can and get your tenants to sign the inventory on completion of the tenancy agreement. This will help in the future in the event of any damage to the property or its contents.

However despite all the necessary precautions you can take to ensure a good tenant resides in your property, if you experience any problems with payment of rent or even antisocial behaviour, it is worth finding out what your rights are as a landlord.

Firstly you should have a signed tenancy agreement in place which sets out the terms and conditions. Ideally arrange a standing order for rent payments as this gives a more accurate record of what payments are received. If rent is not received for 12 weeks or more you can then serve an eviction notice.

As indicated in the tenancy agreement, your tenants have a responsibility to care for the property and keep it in good clean condition. However as a landlord you will be expected to carry out essential repairs. If the tenant has caused damage to the property that falls outside of the normal wear and tear and is unwilling to pay for it or repair it then you are within your rights to serve an eviction notice in this instance also.

As a landlord it is against the law to evict your own tenants forcefully or even enter the property without due notice, and therefore the correct procedure must be adhered to when going through this process. If necessary you can apply to the court for a possession order, if your tenant does not vacate the property by the date on the eviction notice. However if the tenant still persists, you may need to then get an eviction warrant from the court where they will then send in the bailiffs.

As a landlord you are also obliged to put the deposit into a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, and if you need to deduct any part or all of the deposit due to rent arrears or damage, you will need to provide details and evidence of this in order to claim any money back.

Obviously this is a last resort, and if you can come to an agreement in a civilised way then that would be better for everyone concerned and in most cases it doesn’t come to this anyway. But it’s certainly worth understanding your rights if the need arises.

by Cormac Henderson

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