So you’ve got your Buy to Let property and you’ve got tenants lining up to rent it from you. But how do you make sure that you make this new venture of yours a success right from the start?
Well one of the first things you need to do is to make sure that you have a really good tenancy agreement in place. You may not know there is no strict legal requirement to do this but it’s a vital part of the process if you want to avoid future problems. A tenancy agreement will set out everything that both you as landlord and your tenants can, can’t and must do during the course of that tenancy and it’s a really important record of all the tenancy details.
So in the next two blogs i’ll be looking at 10 of the most common problems with tenancy agreements and giving you tips and advice to ensure that you avoid them.
- Insufficient contact details
In certain circumstances it’s a legal requirement to provide contact details for the landlord and the tenant in a tenancy agreement. Under Section 48 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987 tenants are entitled to withhold rent if they are not given an address at which to serve notices on their landlord.
To avoid problems, make sure any tenancy agreement includes your own contact details (preferably address, contact numbers and email) as well as the full contact details of the tenant pre and (if known) post tenancy in case you need to trace any errant tenants.
2. Vague deposit details
As well as including the amount of deposit in the agreement, you should also include the circumstances under which deductions from this can be made.
It is advisable to include the “Prescribed Information” required under the deposit regulations in the agreement, which can save time and arguments over whether it has been served on the tenant at a later date. If you’d like more information about these regulations, just give me a call.
- Lack of inventories and check-in reports
Many landlord and tenant disputes relate to damage allegedly caused by tenants. And a disproportionate number of these result in findings in favour of the tenant as the landlord was unable to prove the condition of the property at the outset of the tenancy.
Ensure you carry out a detailed inventory and check-in condition report at the outset of the tenancy and incorporate these in the tenancy agreement. At EweMove.com we do property condition reports for check-ins as a matter of course, and also offer videos which we shoot to also clearly identify the tenant and the property. It’s the best way to avoid any disputes and could save you a lot of hassle and money!
- Unclear special conditions
If you wish to agree special conditions with a tenant not only should these be expressly agreed and attached to the tenancy agreement, but in line with Office of Fair Trading (OFT) guidance, you should get the tenant to sign the special conditions. This will help to avoid any future arguments such as the tenant claiming the special conditions were not shown to them at the time of signing the agreement or were added at a later date.
5. Administration charges
The OFT has issued guidance on what landlords can and can’t charge tenants in terms of administration fees. It is quite common for a tenancy agreement clause to include late payment charges for instance. Clauses attempting to charge fixed costs may be deemed as unfair contract terms, so instead of giving fixed figures the OFT has suggested terms should be re-drafted to say that the tenant is responsible for any reasonable costs incurred by the landlord as a result of a breach of a tenant’s obligation.
The above are all common problems which are easily avoided if you take the correct steps to begin with. Ensure your tenancy agreements are clearly drafted and in line with the latest legislation and if you are unsure of what you need to include you should check with a specialist solicitor, a competent lettings agent, or a recognised landlord association.
In my next blog I’ll be looking at serving notices on your tenants, renewing or ending a tenancy agreement and problems with “homemade” or out of date tenancy agreements but if you have any questions about any aspect of your Buy to Let or your tenancy agreement please get in touch and don’t let the problem fester.
Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking and he’s also a portfolio landlord himself, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. So if you have any questions, why not give him a call. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.
Award winning www.EweMove.com/dorking are a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.
Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org