Disputes between landlords and their tenants are usually stressful for both parties, however, there are some simple ways to avoid a number of the more common disputes and help promote a better relationship.
Here we take you through some of the more frequent causes of disagreements and give you some tips on how to avoid them:
This is the number one cause of disputes between tenants and landlords and there are several things you can do to help prevent a dispute over cleaning.
MyDeposits.co.uk is one of the three authorised Tenant Deposit Schemes in the UK.
They advise writing to the tenant before the contract ends reminding them of their obligations. If you have a copy of the check in documentation (and you should), send it to them along with any photos you took at that time, so they can be reminded of the condition of the property before they moved in.
This will provide a useful reference for both of you at the time of check out and sending it in advance will help your tenant make sure they leave the property in the condition they found it in.
If you organised a Company clean before the tenants moved in, you could pass the Company details to them so your tenants could use the same firm to clean it before handing the property back to you.
Damage to property
Tenants need to take care to avoid damaging property, but equally, landlords must allow for reasonable wear and tear.
A common issue is tenants wishing to hang paintings and mirrors on walls or put shelves up. They should ask your permission before they do this and you should advise them at the time that they need to repair any holes in the walls and leave the place as they found it – unless of course you’re willing to have shelves put up permanently.
You can also suggest alternative fixings for wall hangings – there are sticky fixtures that don’t damage paint and can hold up to several kilos of weight – plenty for most mirrors and paintings. Accidental damage is unavoidable sometimes and you should make it clear what you expect of your tenant if they accidentally damage something at the check-in phase.
Also having a thorough check-in and check out should help to avoid any disputes over whether something was damaged before the tenant moved in.
Many tenants aren’t gardeners, so having an easy to maintain garden is a good idea in any property you plan to let. Or you can factor having a regular gardener into the price of the rent, potentially being open to negotiation if a tenant especially wants to be able to do the gardening.
You’ll obviously check the garden periodically along with the rest of the property, so if it’s clearly been very badly maintained, tell your tenant that they must tidy it up, or that the tenants will need to agree to arrange a gardener before handing the property back to you.
Also remember that your own standards may differ from the tenant’s and if they’ve been making a reasonable effort, even if it’s not up to your own standards, they haven’t done anything wrong. To avoid this, you may prefer to organise a gardener as part of the tenancy agreement.
Having a properly maintained property is a tenant’s right and a landlord’s duty.
When problems occur, such as a boiler breaking down, or issues with damp (which can cause damage to health), these must be resolved quickly. Tenants who feel that their landlord is taking too long to resolve these issues often withhold the rent until the issue is fixed. This is clearly not an ideal situation and important to prevent if possible.
Landlords can avoid disputes by taking quick action to resolve the problems.
Agencies provide excellent support for problems like this and have access to well-priced and reputable property repair and maintenance contractors who can keep things running smoothly, taking the hassle out of the landlord’s hands.
Costs of cleaning and repairs
Disputes often arise not over cleaning and repairs, which both parties may agree are necessary, but over the cost incurred for these things.
Remember that legally, the money held in deposit is the tenant’s money, so landlords need to have a good case for claiming any of it. You’ll need to agree with the tenant what needs to be remedied and be able to show that any costs incurred are justified.
The best way to do this is by having a transparent process and to use an independent person to organise any works. An agent can do this for you, though there needs to be evidence that they are acting impartially and not in the interests of either party.
Most disputes can be resolved between the tenant and the landlord directly with a simple honest conversation. If things go further than this though, there are several options to try before going to court.
The Tenant Deposit Scheme may appoint an adjudicator to evaluate the case and come up with a binding solution.
Adjudicators will not visit the property, nor meet the parties involved, they will look at evidence provided by landlords and tenants and will decide a solution based on this.
At fish need water, we thoroughly vet all of our tenants and we offer a range of solutions for landlords designed to work around your budget and lifestyle.
Very few our tenancies have ended in a dispute.
We know the processes inside out and can take out much of the pain of managing issues that do arise with minimum input from you. Have a look at our services for landlords for more information.