How to keep your tenants happy
There's more to being a buy-to-let supremo than renting out property. In the second of our two-part series on landlords' and tenants' rights Moneywise covers all the bases for landlords.
It takes more than knowing the legal dos and don'ts to be a good landlord. Here are steps you should take to ensure your tenants stay happy.
From the outset keep things simple by making sure the tenancy agreement is in clear, plain English. It's also worth going through specific clauses so that there's no future conflict on what they mean or cover.
An inventory that lists all of the property's fixtures, fittings and furniture is a great way of showing at the start what you provided - and in what state. It's up to you if you want to split the costs of this with your tenants or pay for it yourself.
Landlords are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the home, including pipework, guttering and the drains as well ensuring safe and adequate heating, gas, water and electricity are all provided. You must also make sure that annual gas safety checks are carried out and keep receipt of all paperwork.
Be reasonable about the wear and tear on the home. If your tenants end up renting for a while, you'd expect certain things to break or lose their initial sheen. For example curtains may fade in sunlight or the washing machine may pack in.
Remember that the deposit is the tenants' money not yours. When they give it to you, you must put it into one of the three working official tenancy deposit schemes. At the end of the term you will have to reach an agreement with your tenant whether they are getting all of the money back or if only a certain amount, how much. Failing to reach an agreement will result in the money staying in the scheme until both parties have reached agreement - either through the dispute resolution service or the courts.
On most tenancy agreements you can't raise the rent more than once a year. You also can't decide to evict your tenants before the end of the contract period without a break clause in the contract. Break clauses allow either party to terminate their tenancy agreement by giving two months notice.
Stubborn tenants that refuse to move out should be dealt with through the courts. You will need to apply for a possession order, under the accelerated possession procedure and it's quite straightforward.
If your tenant withholds rent, after one month you are entitled to take legal action against them; however the tenants won't have to move out until it has gone through court.
Although you own it, for the tenants, it's their home and to barge in whenever you feel like it is inappropriate – not to mention illegal. Landlords have to give 24 hours formal written notice of any planned visits but most tenants will be happy with some advance warning by phone or email.
You're also legally obliged to give your contact details to your tenant within 21 days of them asking.
If you'd rather not do the dirty work yourself consider using an agent – although this will cost you, it means the agent will handle all paperwork, maintenance and potential disputes.