Buy to Let Landlords are often frustrated by the growing number of obligations they must comply with. They perhaps didn’t sign up for these when they made their investment in rental property a number of years ago, or they may not have realised the extent of the regulations. The list of laws that apply is ever-growing, and the risks from serious abuses of their property through crime is reported more frequently in the news.
I’m a solicitor with 12 years experience specialising in advising residential landlords to deal with problem tenants.
Here I summarise some of the common problems private residential landlords face, and how I can help.
In my experience, this is still the main legal stumbling block for landlords. Even though the requirement to protect deposits has been in force over 12 years I still come across landlords who haven’t complied, either to protect a deposit in a scheme or to give the deposit prescribed information. If the tenant later becomes a problem, or the landlord wants to sell, they’ll need to serve a Section 21 notice on their tenant as the first step in getting possession. They can’t serve a valid Section 21 if the deposit requirements haven’t been complied with. On top of that, their tenant can make a claim against them for a penalty for failure to protect the deposit, which can be up to 3 x the deposit amount. I can advise about deposits, and how to go about getting possession where the deposit hasn’t been protected.
There are two main types of notice typically used by landlords who want possession: a Section 21 notice and a Section 8 notice. In order for the notice to be effective so that the landlord can rely on it in court proceedings if they need to, it must be carefully drafted and served in the appropriate way. It is easy to slip- up and get a crucial date or detail wrong, or make a mistake with service, and find that you cannot rely on your notice. I can help with the drafting and service of notices. It is not always obvious which type of notice is the most appropriate in the circumstances, and I can also explain the pros and cons of each type and the difference in costs between the two procedures.
Rent arrears must be the number 1 reason landlords want to evict. However, the tenant might dispute the amount of the arrears. Tenants possibly made cash payments, with no accurate receipting or evidence. Landlords might fail to keep an adequate statement of the rent account. A Section 8 notice must give an accurate rent arrears figure, or the landlord may be later unable to rely on it. In court proceedings based on rent arrears, the court will require an accurate statement of the arrears showing each amount due and each amount received, by date, with a running total of the arrears. I can advise on possession claims on rent grounds, and the preparation of Section 8 notices.
Other landlord mistakes include failure to comply with the Deregulation Act 2015 (provision to the tenant of the How to Rent Guide, EPC, Gas Certificate), Right to Rent obligations, HMO regulations, and selective licensing. In addition, landlords are increasingly facing risks from criminals using their properties, for example for cannabis farms, or modern slavery. I’ll cover these in Negotiating the Lettings Minefield Volume II – Watch this Space!
How can we help you?
For advice please contact Sarah today and see how she can help you.