According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, one in six privately rented homes in England are physically unsafe. It’s around these types of issues landlord-tenant legal clashes occur.
Disputes between tenants and landlords can escalate quickly, and although the law favours the rights of tenants in many ways, that’s no guarantee when it comes to legal action. With this in mind, it is important that you know your rights.
Here at First4lawyers, we can provide the help and advice you need to work toward the result you want. Please get in contact to find out more.
What are the common causes of tenant disputes?
Disputes can arise because a tenant fails to pay rent, breaks terms in their tenancy agreement, or a property requires repairs or has suffered damage. There could also be issues around matters such as the payment of bills, rent increases, and the return of a deposit.
There’s an issue around damage to a property – what can I do?
It is not uncommon for a property to be damaged, and landlords will often pay for the repairs themselves to avoid hassle.
Tenants often have a level of responsibility to keep the property clean, smoke-free and in good condition, and landlords may have the right to expect tenants to complete basic maintenance e.g. use the heating system responsibly and change light bulbs.
While the law states that tenants do not have to pay for ‘normal wear and tear’, landlords can claim back for the costs of any damage beyond what is reasonable.
The tenant also has an obligation to stick to the terms of their tenancy with regard to keeping pets. Again, if any damage occurs as a result of the presence of pets, landlords have the right to deduct a certain amount from a tenant’s deposit, or ask them to pay for repairs.
When can’t a landlord gain access to a property?
A landlord cannot gain access to a property without consent. During the tenancy period, it is illegal for a landlord to enter a property without the consent of a tenant.
Landlords have the right to ‘reasonable’ access to carry out repairs, but must give at least 24 hours’ notice. This also means a landlord must not pay their tenants an impromptu visit without good reason.
A landlord must not harass their tenants. It’s a criminal offence, and may include:
- Entering the property without permission.
- Using abusive or threatening behaviour.
- Entering the property to undertake needless repairs to annoy the tenant.
Also, a landlord must not physically throw their tenants out of the property. There are strict laws related to evicting problem tenants. With this in mind, a landlord must be careful to ensure they act within the letter of the law. Otherwise, they could be taken to court for illegal eviction.
What course of action should be taken around eviction?
If a tenant has serious rent arrears, or their fixed term agreement expires and the landlord does not wish to renew it, a tenant can be evicted. However, landlords must ensure they follow the correct process.
Firstly, landlords must give notice of the eviction. The tenancy agreement should state a notice period that can be given to tenants to vacate the property.
Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 states landlords must give tenants a minimum of two months’ notice of their eviction. This is known as a Section 21 notice.
If the tenant(s) are still in the property after the notice period ends, a landlord must then apply to the courts for a possession order.
If the court grants a possession order and the tenant still does not leave, landlords can apply for an eviction warrant from the county court. The county court can then arrange to send bailiffs to repossess the property.
I have a dispute regarding a deposit – what is the proper course of action?
If let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, a landlord must place a tenant's deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme. These provide free dispute resolution services to help the parties agree on how much of the deposit each should receive.
If a landlord wishes to deduct a sum from a tenant's deposit, they must be able to prove that the tenant caused the damage. This can be done by taking an inventory at the start and end of the tenancy.
I need advice with regard to a landlord-tenant dispute – what should I do?
It is recommended that you seek the advice of experts. As previously stated, the law regarding property rentals largely favours the tenant, but that’s not guaranteed.
First4lawyers assign specialists to your case, and whether you are having issues with rent arrears or an eviction, our highly trained property solicitors are here for you.
For expert legal help and advice, make contact with First4lawyers.