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MPPT Spotlight are focusing on Tenants this week with a series of articles on getting the best out of tenant

MPPT Spotlight are focusing on Tenants this week with a series of articles on getting the best out of tenants

Tenants Admit Having Problems With Landlords And Letting Agents

55% of tenants in the UK’s private rented sector (PRS) have experienced problems with their landlord or their appointed letting agents according to the latest research from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

The most common issue which affected 31% of PRS tenants was the length of time taken to fix problems in rental properties including issues with boilers, heating and electrical outlets.

Once a problem was raised, tenants have waited an average of 36 days for the problem to be fully resolved. However over 14% of PRS tenants never had their rental property problems fixed at all, according to the research.

18% of tenants surveyed also reported frustrating delays with landlords not replacing worn out fixtures and fittings on demand, including requests to replace old or damaged kitchen cupboards or tired and worn carpets.

14% of the tenants surveyed, felt that their complaints about repair issues were either ignored or brushed off by landlords or their appointed letting agents.

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Are Landlords Sure Thay Are Not Victims Of A Rent To Rent Scam?

Are Landlords Sure Thay Are Not Victims Of A Rent To Rent Scam?

There are more worrying developments in the UK PRS, as the practice of Rent To Rent within the UK residential lettings market is causing increasing concern among industry professionals.

The practice of Rent To Rent, sees one set of individuals renting a privately owned residential property within the UK private rented sector (PRS) and then sub-letting it to another tenant for profit, as a business.

It is widely believed that many Rent To Renters are operating without the landlord’s knowledge or consent.

Professional tenants have reportedly accepted a tenancy, signed agreements of multiple properties, then they have proceeded to sublet the properties to unsuspecting third parties, unaware of the true situation.

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Tenant Eviction - How Landlords should do it

Tenant Eviction – How Landlords should do it

Landlords Need To Know How To Handle Tenant Rent Arrears

As many UK landlords already know, there are always some issues that can arise during the course of a tenancy. These can vary from essential repairs to rent arrears and with the UK still slowly recovering from a double dip recession, money is tight all around.

With this in mind Legal 4 Landlords offer landlords some sound advice on dealing with tenants in rent arrears before being forced to take legal action for the eviction of the defaulting tenant.

Some tenants are still struggling financially and many are increasingly finding it hard to keep up with their monthly rental payments as well as dealing with the increasing cost of living. Many tenants experience problems due to changes in personal circumstances, such as redundancy or pay cuts, rather than intentionally refusing to pay rent.

Having to pay the mortgage on rental property and not receiving the rent is stressful for all landlords without Rent Guarantee Insurance, but when a tenant is having difficulty paying the rent, there are still a number of options open to landlords before having to resort to eviction.

  • Try to resolve arrears with the tenant to avoid time consuming and often costly court proceedings, especially if they have generally paid in full and on time.
  • Discuss a realistic payment plan with your tenant and encourage them to pay what they can each month to keep down their arrears, confirming everything you agree upon in writing
  • Seek a money order via the Small Claims Court which will order the tenant to pay back the money they owe. This can happen at any time during the tenancy and you do not need to ask your tenant to leave. If the money order isn’t settled within 14 days then your tenant will have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) entered against their name and the order can be enforced via the courts. (Remember that if your tenant is genuinely not in a position to pay then this may be slightly unfair as you will only be worsening their position).

If the tenant still refuses to pay up or insists that they can longer afford the rent, then landlords must follow the legal process for eviction of the tenant in order to recover possession of their rental property.

Serve Notice To Quit

The benefit of an Assured Short-Hold Tenancy (AST) is that the provisions make it much easier to evict a tenant than other tenancy agreements.

Briefly, there are two ways of serving notice to quit when your tenant has fallen into arrears.

1. Section 21 – end of tenancy possession

Section 21 enables a landlord to gain possession at the end of a tenancy without providing reason. There are two types of Section 21 notices: the Section 21(a) notice for possession of a periodic tenancy (that is, when the fixed term of the lease has expired and not been renewed); and the Section 21(b) notice for possession of a fixed term tenancy.

With the Section 21(a) notice for a periodic tenancy, you must provide notice of two months’ or the amount of time between rent payments (e.g. 3 months for quarterly payments), whichever is greater.

If you want to serve notice at any point during the fixed term of the tenancy, you must serve a Section 21(b) notice. As with Section 21(a) you must provide at least two months’ notice, however the earliest date on which the tenant must vacate the property cannot be earlier than the last day of the fixed term of the lease.

Note: you must have secured the tenants deposit in one of the 3 government approved tenancy deposit protection schemes otherwise the Section 21 notice could be invalid.

2. Section 8 – fault based possession

Unlike Section 21, the Section 8 notice can be served at any point during the tenancy. However, it is a lengthier process so it is advisable only to use this route if you have more than 3 months left of the fixed term.

There are 17 grounds on which you can claim fault based possession, 8 of which are mandatory i.e. if the landlord can prove these then the court must give possession. Rent arrears falls under the mandatory ground 8 as well as discretionary grounds 10 and 11, all requiring two weeks’ notice.

If the tenant refuses to vacate and/or hasn’t paid their arrears after the notice period has elapsed, you will need to apply to the court for a possession order and/or a money order.

Legal 4 Landlords can handle all aspects of debt/rent recovery and are the UK’s leading specialists in tenant evictions.

Under a possession order, the court sets a date for the tenant to vacate the property after which they can be forcibly removed by bailiffs.

UK Landlords are warned not attempt to evict tenants themselves or they could face legal action for unlawful eviction and landlords should always use the professional services of an eviction specialist.

Section 8 - Grounds For Eviction

Section 8 – Grounds For Eviction

Taking the professional tenant eviction route may sound expensive to many UK landlords, but it can actually work out to be the cheaper option because professional tenant eviction specialists, like Legal 4 Landlords, know what they’re doing and work fast.

Many landlords try to tackle the eviction process themselves by serving a Section 8, but there a few details that must be 100% accurate and many landlords attempting to evict tenant’s themselves unknowingly serve an invalid notice, consequently delaying the entire eviction process, which ultimately may result in more lost rent for the landlord.

A Section 8 notice to quit, sometimes referred to as a Section 8 possession notice has to be completed and served correctly on the tenant(s) of the rental property, allowing the landlord to seek possession of the rental property from the tenant during the term of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).

The Section 8 notice needs to show that the tenant has breached the conditions of the tenancy agreement, any term or condition of the tenancy agreement that is seen to have been broken constitutes a breach. The most common type of breach is the non-payment or late payment of rent, however, damage to the property, unsociable conduct, and subletting are also grounds for a possession order.

To make a Section 8 form valid, the landlord must state which grounds the tenant has breached according to Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988

All Section 8 forms require the landlord to specify the grounds they are citing as reason for eviction.

These grounds for possession, under Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988, fall into 2 main categories and are listed below

  • Mandatory Grounds – this covers Grounds 1 to 8 and if one of these grounds is cited on a Section 8 form the court must grant possession to the landlord.
  • Discretionary Grounds – this covers Grounds 9 to 17 and in these cases the court will only grant possession if it feels it is reasonable to do so.
Ground Short Description
Ground 1 The landlord requires the property in order to use it as their main residence. This ground can only be used if the landlord used the property as their main residence prior to the tenancy beginning.
Ground 2 The mortgage lender on the property has served notice to foreclose. In this case the mortgage in question has to predate the start of the tenancy.
Ground 3 The property was previously used as a holiday let and is required to return to the status of holiday let. For the exact conditions that apply to this Ground please see the Housing Act 1988.
Ground 4 The property is being let by an educational institution and is now required by students of the educational institution. Written notice that this may happen must be served before the tenancy begins.
Ground 5 The property is owned by a religious body and they require possession for a member of their church i.e. a Minister of Religion.
Ground 6 The landlord wants to demolish and reconstruct, or redevelop all or part of the property. The tenant needs to have refused to live in all or part of the property while work is carried out for this ground to be feasible. If granted the landlord is required to pay all reasonable moving costs to the tenant.
Ground 7 The current tenant is a tenant heir and is not named on the original tenancy agreement. The landlord must serve a Section 8 notice within 12 months of the death of the named tenant.
Ground 8 The tenant has failed to pay more than 8 weeks rent in the case of weekly payments, 2 months in the case of monthly payments or 1 quarter in the case of quarterly payments. Ground 8 is often cited in conjunction with Grounds 10 and 11 so that a partial payment by the tenant just prior to the court hearing doesn’t render the possession order obsolete. Note: When claiming possession under this ground, it is advisable to cite more than one ground since, if the tenant pays off part of the arrears shortly before the hearing, this ground can no longer be proved and possession proceedings will have to be abandoned. It is, therefore, common practice to cite more than one ground for rent arrears (i.e. grounds 8, 10 & 11), if applicable, and to also wait until at least two months’ rent (or eight weeks in the case of a weekly tenancy) is unpaid before issuing the Section 8 Notice.
Ground 9 Suitable accommodation of the same type and quality has been offered to the tenant and refused. The landlord is required to pay all reasonable removal costs if possession is granted.
Ground 10 The rent is in arrears but by no more than 8 weeks in the case of weekly payments, 2 months in the case of monthly payments and 1 quarter in the case of quarterly payments.
Ground 11 The tenant is repeatedly late with payments or repeatedly fails to pay their rent until prompted by the landlord.
Ground 12 The tenant has breached any of the terms listed in the tenancy agreement.
Ground 13 The tenant has neglected or damaged the property, or they have sublet the property to another individual who has neglected or damaged the property.
Ground 14 The tenant is considered a nuisance to neighbours or other tenants and has received complaints concerning their conduct.
Ground 15 The furniture listed on the property inventory has been misused, damaged, broken or sold by the tenant or any individual living with them.
Ground 16 The property was let to the tenant as a condition of their employment but the employment has now come to an end.
Ground 17 The property was let on the basis of false information provided by the tenant or one of their referees/ guarantor.
Grounds For Eviction

Grounds For Eviction

How much notice is given in a Section 8?

  • The amount of notice a landlord is required to give differs according to the grounds they are citing on the Section 8 form. Ground 2 for example, requires a minimum of 2 months’ notice but grounds 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 only require 2 weeks’ notice.

What happens after the Section 8 Notice has been served?

  • All Section 8 forms must clearly state the date on which the notice expires. This is the date that the tenant has to have paid their rent arrears by, or have vacated the property by, and in nearly 80% of cases the tenant leaves or pays before this date arrives.
  • If the tenant refuses, the landlord can start court possession proceedings on the day following the date cited on the Section 8 form.
  • To do this the landlord has to acquire forms N5 and N119 from their local county court and pay the appropriate court fee. This then starts the process of gaining a possession order.

Will a Section 8 guarantee that a possession order will be granted?

  • In simple terms, NO!.
    The likelihood of being granted a possession order is dependent on the Grounds cited on the Section 8 form, and as mentioned earlier some grounds are mandatory while others are discretionary.
  • Grounds 2 and 8 are always granted the order but the circumstances surrounding the other grounds are carefully considered by the court before a decision is made.
  • The evidence of the landlord and any evidence submitted by the tenant is looked at closely and factors such as hardship and extenuating circumstances suffered by the tenant are taken into consideration.
  • If a possession order is granted it normally takes effect within 14 days, but in cases of true hardship on the part of the tenant this can sometime be extended to six weeks.

Tenant eviction can be a bit of a minefield for the uninitiated landlord and the safest and fastest way to evict a tenant is to use a tenant eviction specialist, like Legal 4 Landlords who take care of all the paperwork and appoint trained legal teams to deal with the hassle.

The UK's leading tenant eviction specialists

Legal 4 Landlords

knowledge of tenant evictions is second to none, that’s why they are the UK’s leading tenant eviction specialists!

According to the report, 13% of chartered surveyors reported rent rises rather than falls in the three months to April 2012. This growth was largely driven by increasing demand as a net balance of 15% more respondents reported rises in prospective tenants, with houses in greater demand than flats.

Rental values in the UK have now grown consistently since 2009 as the problem of unaffordable mortgage finance and large deposits required by lenders remain a barrier to home ownership, with many potential buyers forced to turn to the rental market.

Significantly, supply of property to the market continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace, with 7% more surveyors reporting increases rather than decreases in landlords looking to let their properties.

Unsurprisingly, with rental values steadily increasing, landlords’ gross yields also continued to grow during the early part of the year, although the pace of growth has begun to slow. This was the case in every part of the UK with the exception of London where tenant demand also saw a slight downturn.

Looking ahead, surveyors remain positive that the market will remain buoyant over the next three months, with 13% more predicting rents will rise rather than fall.

Across the UK, all areas expect rents to continue to increase with the exception of Scotland where expectations entered negative territory for the first time since October 2009.

Peter Bolton King, RICS Global Residential Director, says, “The rental market is still fairly buoyant and this looks likely to continue, given the challenges facing the sales market. Indeed, mortgage finance may become even harder to access particularly for first-time buyers if the euro crisis continues to deepen. This points to tenant demand continuing to outpace supply. As a result, rents will remain on an upward trajectory, adding to the pressure on many households whose incomes are already being squeezed.”

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), has reported that Private Rented Sector (PRS), property rental prices have continued to increase across the UK but at a much slower rate than has previously been observed over the last 2 years.

RICS says the rental property market may be beginning to level out, with an increasing number of prospective tenants unwilling to pay out for increasing private sector rents.

With PRS rental growth beginning to slow in many areas of the UK and a recent upturn in prospective property buyers, RICS says an increased number of landlords are looking to sell their rental properties when they reach the end of lengthy tenancy agreements rather than face expensive refurbishment costs.

RICS members that also handle residential property lettings have stated that they expect very slow growth in PRS rental values.

Michael Newey, RICS spokesperson, said: “With many potential first-time buyers having been forced into rented accommodation due to problems with obtaining affordable mortgage finance, rental prices have grown quickly across much of the UK in recent times. However, it seems that tenants may be becoming less willing to meet increasing rental values. While still growing, demand from potential tenants is also beginning to slow. With a recent upturn in buyers entering the sales market prior to the expiry of the Stamp Duty holiday in March, it seems that those who are in a position to get a foot on the property ladder may have chosen now to do so.”

The professional letting agent - Castledene Property Management Ltd

Good Agents Don't Happen By Accident

It is widely thought that anyone with an interest in property and business can set up a property management company or a lettings agency. But, are there pitfalls in the process for new letting agents?

Over the last few years, the UK media have run countless news stories about letting agents failing their landlord clients and closing down, taking hundreds of thousands of pounds of client funds with them.

Many landlord investors seem to think that all lettings agents in the UK are equal, but is this the case? Does it take a certain kind of person to make a property lettings business successful?

A Good Letting Agent needs to be:

  • A Good communicator – Must be able to speak to investors and landlords as well as tenants
  • Customer orientated –both landlords AND tenants are your customers, so you need to find a happy balance
  • Analytical –Especially if you are dealing with the rents
  • Systematic – Capable of following systems and dealing with problems
  • Sales driven – you need to sell your services to prospective landlords and tenants to generate business.

Unless the business is in the fortunate position of being able to employ staff, with the relevant skill sets needed, from day one, then you as the business owner will need to be master of all of the above skills, or at least be competent, otherwise you will lose business as a result of your failings.

When starting any type of new business, you need to know what the main aims and objectives of the venture are and what niche will it operate in. If you don’t, how can you expect to be able to push the business forward and in the right direction?

There are already thousands of UK letting agents managing Billions of pounds (GBP) worth of property out there, so what separates you from them? Why should landlords and property investors choose your letting agency instead of anyone else’s? Are you a HMO specialist, do you manage top end properties? Do you deal with LHA tenants?

New letting agents often spring up and disappear again within 6-12 months because the business owners did not know enough about the local property market, the lettings industry in general, the niche market of the area they were operating in or even the demographic of their client base, in other words they did not have enough forethought to be able to survive and profit.

If information and responsibility is not handled correctly, it can be a very steep and expensive learning curve for a new property lettings business, leading to a host of financial and legal issues that interfere with your client’s expectations and obligations. Such matters could also force the closure of the business, costing your landlord clients dearly.

Landlords with an ill advised or ill equipped letting agency, who have been forced to close because they failed to move with the times, can find themselves with no tenancy agreements, (AST), no gas certificates (CP12), no rental income, no deposit and no fallback plan.

In fact, in some cases reported by the media, some failing letting agents had stopped paying rents to Landlord clients several months prior to closing, meaning that the landlords ended up falling foul of the law and many thousands of pounds out of pocket.

To be successful in property lettings, as with any business, you have to have knowledge and experience, not only the practical side of property management but also on the legal side, and keeping up with the latest government legislation, including all welfare reform changes and their impact on landlord clients, can be a minefield at times, but knowledge is power and only the strongest survive.

In business, failure to plan is planning to fail and monetising your skills and knowledge is not a crime. Knowledge and experience are the keys to success so business owners need to realise where their knowledge is lacking and plug the gaps with employees or other members of a support network, such as solicitors, insurance brokers, mortgage advisor, builders etc. Letting agents can also get help is by joining the National Approves Letting Scheme (NALS) and/or the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

If you have property for rent anywhere in the North of England or Wales contact Castledene Property Management Head Office on 0191 527 4000 who will be more than happy to help!

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