It’s been a tough few years for landlords. From changes to wear and tear allowances to extra regulations on the right to rent, new laws have increased the burden on landlords while cutting financial support. Consequently, landlords must take every opportunity to lighten the load. Fostering a good relationship with tenants is perhaps one of the best means of achieving this.
Rights and responsibilities
Letting a property is hard work, but the job doesn't end there. Contracts and communications must clearly include the rights and responsibilities of both parties. Firstly, that means ensuring contracts include details like tenancy duration, rent costs, due dates and a forfeiture of lease clause. These ensure your right to reclaim rent arrears and evict tenants under Section 21.
Secondly, it means sorting secondary documentation. Residency documents, for example, are necessary under ‘right to rent’ checks. If you fail to check them you could be fined up to £3,000. Following legal changes which come into effect on 1 October 2018, you’ll also be obliged to give both new and renewing tenants the government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide.
Forging a team
The government guide covers most of both landlords' and tenants' rights and responsibilities, but it can't cover everything. Make sure that the exchange isn't a mere formality by asking your tenant further questions and being open to theirs. This friendlier ‘check in’ process will help you head into the new relationship with clear ideas and will lay the foundations for a solid, productive relationship with your tenant, forging you into a team.
This will pay dividends in the long term. The letting landscape doesn’t stand still and both landlords and tenants stand to benefit from staying abreast of the changes. Take the time to find out your tenants’ correspondence preferences and to share your own, making sure they know how and when they can get in touch to discuss concerns. With open lines of communication, you’ll both be ready to ask questions if further new laws appear.
Staying in touch will also help resolve issues before councils or law enforcement need to step in. For instance, your tenant should ideally ask you for advice on removing bulky waste instead of just dumping it, which could land you with fines of up to £5,000. And if tenants run into financial trouble and struggle to pay the rent, you might be able to find a solution before you’re forced to seek our help.
You can keep the door open by regularly checking in via email, phone or post (whatever the tenant prefers). And when you want to arrange inspections, make sure they’re planned at pre-agreed, mutually convenient times.
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