How to Handle a Bad Tenant

It is possible for a landlord to include certain clauses in the Tenancy Agreement which requires the tenant to desist from carrying out certain behaviour. Failure to do so could result in the landlord employing Ground 12 of Section 8 to serve an eviction notice because the tenant is breaking the Tenancy Agreement. 

What is a Ground 12 Notice?

Ground 12 is ‘discretionary.’ What this means is that the judge can decide whether or not breaking the agreement should lead to possession of the property by the landlord. However, the more serious the breach and more it is repeated will probably result in the judge favouring the landlord’s case.  

What Type of Clauses Are Typical?

There are certain behaviours that could be included in a clause. The main ones are smoking, pets, anti-social behaviour and parties. 

Can You Evict a Tenant for Smoking?

It’s understandable why a lot of landlords write in this clause – especially if they aren’t a smoker themselves. It’s very rare anyway these days to find people smoking indoors, even in their own homes. 

Catching a tenant smoking should merit an initial warning only. If the smoking continues you could tell them you won’t give them a good reference when they move out. If there’s any burns or cigarette damage caused to carpets or the furniture etc then this can be deducted from the tenant’s deposit.  

To ensure you don’t get a tenant who smokes you could try mentioning you want a ‘non-smoking tenant’ in the initial advert for your flat or house. 

Pets in Rental Properties

You can put in a clause about pets. However, it must have the wording ‘the permission will not be unreasonably withheld.’ Failure to do this means you would be breaking the Consumer Rights Act. 

If a tenant does move in with a cat, dog, guinea pig etc without asking you and getting your written permission, then this is a breach of the Tenancy Agreement. A warning should be issued and, again, any damage caused by the pet taken from the Tenancy Deposit to replace furnishings etc. 

Can a Tenant Move Someone Else In? 

Moving in a boyfriend, girlfriend or friend in general is a common complaint from landlords. So too is sub-letting. Your Tenancy Agreement should contain clauses relating to both instances. 

This can be serious since moving in another individual could mean the property qualifies as a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) and which requires special licensing from the local authority. This also comes with new fire regulations.  

Being overcrowded with another individual, the property may also be in contravention of the Fit Property Act 2018.  

Any Rent Guarantee Insurance you have will also become invalidated. 

Anti-Social Behaviour 

Loud noises that annoy the neighbours can be termed anti-social. So too can regular parties and dogs continually barking at all hours. If you own the leasehold of the property but not the freehold, then the latter could prevent you letting the property in the future. 

Even as a landlord, if you don’t take any action against your tenant’s anti-social behaviour then the local authority could stop you from renting by revoking your licence (if you are in a ‘selective licensing’ area). 

Often, local authorities will have anti-social behaviour terms in their selective license agreements. This came in with the Housing Act in 2004 as part of New Labour’s ‘Respect’ agenda; the same body of thought that brought us ASBOs. If landlords fail to intervene in their ‘problematic’ tenancies, then they could have their licenses revoked, preventing them from letting the property in future. 

Waste Collection 

It’s common for landlords – especially those who own HMOs – to put a clause in their Tenancy Agreement asking tenants not to let rubbish and other waste collect on the property. In other words, the tenants are obliged to mind the council’s waste policies. 

Failing to deal with waste, together with anti-social behaviour are both deemed so serious that a court may agree it is reasonable to issue a Section 8, Ground 12 notice. A Ground 14 notice could also be used for the anti-social behaviour. 

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