How Do You Deal With a Problem Tenant?Written By PropertyLoop February 15, 2021
Encountering a problem tenant is perhaps one of the most significant apprehensions of a rental property owner; after all, many will spend weeks in the search for their ideal tenant, only to encounter a difficult tenant commonly resulting in rent arrears, preventable damage and antisocial behaviour.
Deductions From the Tenancy Deposit
Perhaps two of the greatest concerns of landlords would be a problem tenant causing significant damage to their rental property and the accumulation of rent arrears. Typically, in order to provide themselves with additional security owners will request that their tenants pay the maximum tenancy deposit amount. Since the implementation of the Tenant Fees Act in 2019 in most cases landlord will not be able to ask renters to pay more than five weeks rent for the tenancy deposit; however, if the annual rental charge for the property is more than £50,000 landlords are able to ask for as much as six weeks rent for the tenancy deposit.
Although landlords are not able to make deductions from the amount that will be returned to the tenant for any “damage” that would be considered wear and tear, these sums will undoubtedly allow owners to recover the costs of replacing any furnishings or fund any remedial work that may need carrying out before new tenants move into the rental. With this being said, in regards to rent arrears, this limit enforced by the tenant fees act does not allow landlords to recuperate a significant amount of arrears, especially if they also need to conduct repairs.
Non-payment of Rent by a Tenant
If a tenant has notified their landlord that they may be unable to pay upcoming rental payments it is imperative that both parties come to an agreement, securing a home for the residents and an income for the owner. Over the lockdown period, landlords organised payment holidays and rent reductions with their tenants in an effort to compromise and allow the tenant to once again find their financial footing.
With this being said, f the owner is unable to reach an agreement with the problem tenant and they are reluctant to pay the due rent, the landlord will most likely move to repossess the property through a section 8 eviction.
Discretionary Grounds for Possession
Landlords have been known to include bespoke terms within the tenancy agreement, in an effort to quell any antisocial behaviour or other undesirable conduct within the rental property. This would be enforced through ground 12 of a section 8 notice, relating to a breach of a tenancy obligation. In such instances the landlord is required to provide the problem tenant with at least two weeks’ notice prior to the eviction proceedings commencing. With this being said the court will also evaluate if the term is considered to be “fair”, if not then the breach will not be enforced.
How Do I Evict a Tenant Without Going to Court?
Landlords are strictly prohibited from attempting to evict the occupants of their rental property without following the appropriate court procedure. Upheld through the 1977 Protection from Eviction Act, if a landlord is found to be evicting a tenant without a court order they will face a fine or as many as two years in prison.
How Do You Know if a Tenant Is Bad?
Typically, landlords will depend on the referencing process to ensure that they will not encounter a problem tenant in their rental property. This series of assessments sees the applicant’s current income, employment status and credit history ben scrutinised during what has been termed “affordability checks”; essentially ensuring that the tenant will be able to afford the periodic rental payments during the tenancy. Alongside this the aspiring tenant will need to provide the owner with a reference from a past landlord, revealing their conduct throughout their last tenancy, giving the new landlord a first-hand account of if the tenant respected the condition of the property and if they continually paid rent on time.
Alongside the widely revered referencing process many landlords will be wary of certain “red flags” displayed by tenants during initial meetings or in-person viewings. Naturally, renters will be drawn to the sector because of the inherent flexibility granted through shorter fixed terms and not being tied to a property through ownership and a mortgage. However, if a renter is found to be moving frequently, alongside being unable to offer a reference from a past landlord, owners should be wary that they have not abandoned a previous tenancy, or have accrued rent arrears.
Additionally, some rental property owners have their suspicions regarding applicants that are too hasty to pay rent in advance, particularly when this has not been requested by the landlord. This is often employed by applicants that may wish to bypass referencing, however, landlords must remember that this route will be unlikely to be as secure as a tenant that has been put through the appropriate screening before residing in your rental property.
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.
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