Smoke & CO alarm installation required by 1 October 2015 (England Only)

17 09 2015

As you are all aware the new smoke/CO alarm installation regulations are due to come into force on the 1st October requiring all landlords to install the alarms in their properties by that date. In advance of approval of the new regulations by Parliament, the Government has issued some guidelines.





From April 2018, EPC’s with F & G rated properties cannot be let. Do I need to evict existing tenants?

31 07 2015

We have gathered a few more Q&As from tenants and landlord asking us for advice. Hope you find these useful. If you have any specific question regarding your investment property and/or tenancy, do not hesitate to contact us on stoke-on-trent@belvoirlettings.com or 01782 478444. We are always happy to help.

 

Q. From April 2018, EPC’s with F & G rated properties cannot be let. Do I need to evict existing tenants?

A. No. It will only apply to relets to new tenants after April 2018. At that point, unless a landlord can show he has done all reasonable works demanded to get to E or above rating he will be unable to re-let the property.

 

Q. When do a tenant needs to pay his first month’s rent and deposit? Landlord would like payment now but tenancy starts in about 5 weeks. The property is empty.

A. In Law a tenancy not created by deed can only take effect in possession. Therefore legally there will not be any tenancy till possesion is given over and as such the tenant can change their mind and argue they pulled out before tenancy commenced. If either party pulls out, it may be that Court would accept the signed document as an agreement to set up a tenancy from the start date and therefore hold a party breaching this liable. It is important for the landlord to understand this will commmit him as much as the tenant and the deposit should be dealt with within 30 days of receipts, not the start of the tenancy.

 

Q. I have a tenant who is a child minder. Does this count as a business?

A. Yes, strictly speaking, this is a business. As business use is prohibited in the standard tenancy agreement, you should let her know that this will cause difficulty. You also need to check that mortgage holder and insurers would find it acceptable.





The Answers to Your Legal Queries re tenancies

27 07 2015

Good Afternoon,

Hope you all had a nice weekend despite the rainy Sunday 😦

Our Legal Team has received numerous calls from Landlords and Tenants asking for advice on specific situations. Here are some Q&A that you may find interesting/useful too.

 

Q. Must a rent increase be in writing?

A. Yes if you want to guarantee enforce-ability and not have any arguments when the increased rent is demanded. You can do rent increases several different ways but the two simplest are an annual increase for longer dated tenancies, usually 2 years or longer, and for certain in any non AST cases.

Or in ASTs once the tenancy has gone periodic you can serve a S13 (2) notice under the 1988 Housing Act giving the tenant one month (or period of the rent if greater) notice of intended increase on the next rent due date after the notice has matured.

 

Q. What exactly is a Guarantor liable for beyond the obvious? For example is the Guarantor liable if the tenant does not pay their utility bills?

A. Basically the guarantor is responsible for everything the tenant is in relation to their obligations under the tenancy. In simple terms, the guarantor is like an additional tenant but not in occupancy.
In terms of the utility bills, the guarantor would not have any obligations to pay those bills as the tenant’s obligation is to register with the utility companies and pay the charges. If the tenant’s failure to do so somehow resulted in a liability for the landlord then they could seek redress against the Guarantor but that would be unlikely.

 

Q. Are landlords allowed to say no to an application because they have a child and don’t want children in their property or is it discrimination?

A. Landlords can choose whoever they want to as tenants and will only be discriminating if they beak a Statue which states an act is discrimination. In housing terms this means sex, race or disability as per the Equalities Act 2010 so refusing children, or students, or LHA tenants is not yet discrimination. Neither is age, not in housing.





The Residential Eviction process….Are you serving an incorrect Section 21?

15 05 2013

Hi All
It’s hard to believe we are in mid-May. It feels as cold and wet as winter in Stoke 😦

We have recently been approached with a number of questions on Section 21 notice. If you are looking to re-gain possession of your rented property, you must follow the correct legal procedure including a correct Section 21 notice. The below scenarios may help you with some questions you might have on Section 21. If however, you still have any queries/concerns please do get in touch.

Question
I have a property where I have served a Section 21 notice; I wanted tenants to leave as they have been troublesome. I have tried to conduct viewings for new prospective tenants. The tenants refused access and shouted out, when I was there with a prospective tenant, that they wanted no viewings until they go. This will be in December. Can I claim against the deposit for wasted time and the void period at the end?
Answer
The tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment and exclusion of others. You cannot insist on entry. Our tenancy agreement says that tenants should allow viewings. You have the option to go to court to claim for any losses sustained by the breach of contract, but you have to quantify the losses and it may be difficult to do this.

Question
Do joint landlords both need to agree to give notice?
Answer
No. One of the joint landlords can give notice to end a tenancy. The problem arises if possession is required through the courts

Question
I have an apartment in the city centre, leasehold and management rules, one of which is no pets. A dog was reported in one of the properties but not found during a property inspection. It appears the tenants had a dog for two or three weeks due to family circumstances. I believe the dog is now gone. However, I want these tenants out earlier than the end of the fixed term in June.
Answer
The only sure way of possession is a Section 21 to expire at the end of the fixed term, and then it may take time for the process if the tenant decides to hold on until bailiffs called. If you want to start proceedings earlier, you can try section 8, Ground 12. However, ground 12 is discretionary and the court would have to decide whether the breach is serious enough for the tenant to lose their home.

Question
If a landlord serves a section 21, can a tenant leave before the expiry date?
Answer
The tenant could counter serve notice if applicable but from a strict legal point of view the landlord is entitled to rent up to the expiry of the notice.

Question
When completing a Section 21 to serve when there is a Guarantor on the tenancy, should the names of the tenant and guarantor be included, or just the tenant?
Answer
As it is the tenant who is required to give possession then the tenant’s name only on the notice. However, it is advisable to keep the guarantor informed by sending them a copy of the notice for their information.





Transfer of Deposit

8 05 2010

Hi All,
Here you got an interesting question raised by another Belvoir office regarding a transfer of a tenant’s deposit….

Question
We have a tenant who has died and her partner, who was not named as a tenant on the tenancy agreement, wishes to take over the tenancy. We are referencing him at present. He wants to use the deposit which she paid as the original tenant.

Answer
When he has cleared through referencing start a new tenancy agreement with him. He will have to find his own deposit. The deposit forms part of the deceased estate and only when this is settled can it be known who is entitled to this asset.





Is a landlord required to make changes for disabled tenant?

6 04 2010

This is a question we were forwarded from another area. I thought it was worth bringing to light straight away though because of the possible ramifications to both the landlord and the letting agent.

Q

We are advertising a property at the moment. A prospective tenant has enquired, she receives disability benefit and wanted to check whether that is ok. Our landlord has said that he is willing to accept the tenancy subject to all the normal references, but only provided that the house is not modified in any way (hand rails in the bathroom etc). Can he do this?

A

No. The landlord is in serious danger here of being in breach of the disability discrimination act, which is a criminal offence. He cannot refuse tenancy on the basis of the disability, he may only refuse tenancy for the same reasons that he might refuse it to any other applicant.





Is the landlord required to replace a lock for the tenant?

6 04 2010

We are managing a property which has an old-fashioned type of lock on the patio door, it can only be locked from the inside via a pull down lever latch. There is also a lock to but the key has been missing for many years.

Q

New tenants have just moved in and are requesting either to be given a key for the existing lock, or for it to be replaced. Given that the first option is not possible, is the landlord required to replace the lock?

A

Technically there is nothing requiring that the landlord provide a specific standard of lock. However there are a few points to consider in this case. Firstly, refusing to replace the lock may sour the relationship with the tenant which is more likely to cause problems in the future. This is a very reasonable request on the part of the tenant, and if the landlord complies the tenant is less likely to leave, which may well cost the landlord the same money he is trying to save.

Furthermore, whilst the landlord doesn’t necessarily have to replace the lock, there was a case where a rental house was burgled, partly due to a faulty lock. In this case the landlord ended up being held liable for the stolen possessions.

So all in all my recommendation would be to have the lock replaced anyway, it will if nothing else keep your current and future tenants happy.