With changes happening all the time in the buy to let market, our resident property expert is regularly asked questions by our landlords. Here are just a few queries sent in along with the relevant answers.
Q: My tenant moved in on 1st August 2015. I now want him to move. Which section 21 notice should I use, the fixed term or the periodic tenancy notice?
A: Because the tenancy started prior to 1st October 2015, you can, if you want, use the periodic tenancy notice. However, it may be easier and is quite legitimate to use the new form 6A section notice. This covers both fixed term and statutory periodic tenancies.
Q: I have a new tenant, tenancy to commence on 16th February. I usually issue a section 21 notice at the start, to keep the tenant on his toes. Is this a good idea?
A: Well, it used to be and many landlords and agents used this strategy. However, from 1st October 2015, this was outlawed; the section 21 notice can only be issued when the tenancy has run for 4 months; if a 12 month tenancy is issued, then the tenancy must run 10 months before the notice is issued.
Q: I have a tenant with a Guarantor. The first period of tenancy has ended with no problems and the tenancy is continuing. However, the Guarantor has contacted me and said he wants releasing from the Guarantor agreement. Is this normal?
A: If one of the conditions of the tenancy was that there was a Guarantor, why would you release him? I am afraid the only option would be to discuss with the tenant whether there was someone else that would stand as Guarantor – cost of credit referencing a new Guarantor down to the tenant. The original Guarantor should not be released until a new Guarantor is in place. If there is no-one that would be a satisfactory Guarantor, you will have to evict the tenant, the original Guarantor’s agreement being in place to cover any rent arrears and damages. It may seem hard on the Guarantor, but too many agreements are signed without any thought of the implications.
If the same tenant has lived in the property for a number of years, perhaps releasing the Guarantor would be a sign of goodwill, given that there would be wear and tear anyway, but that cannot apply after only 6 months.
Q: I have a tenant on an assured shorthold tenancy. My agreement says that I only need to give 1 months notice to recover possession. Why is a prospective tenant telling me that is not legal?
A: I am afraid because he knows the law! The Housing Act 1988 established the assured shorthold tenancy and specified that the tenant must have 2 months notice, if the assured shorthold tenancy ground was used – i.e. the no blame notice/mandatory ground. That being the case, the tenant cannot sign away his rights to what the law says he is entitled to. The tenant may be quite happy to leave with only 1 months notice, but if he is not, the local authority will advise him that it is not a valid notice and to stay where he is until a legal notice is issued and a Court orders possession.
Q: I have a vacant flat. I seem to have met someone who I think will be a good tenant. He can pay a deposit and the first month’s rent in advance. His references are also excellent. What is my problem? Well, the bathroom suite is in perfect condition, very clean, but it is lemon. The prospective tenant is saying he doesn’t like it and is hesitating about signing the agreement until I say I will change the suite for a white one. Should I?
A: Well, it is obviously quite old – it’s been a long time since I have seen a bathroom suite in any colour but white! However, provided it is in sound condition, you should not have to replace it. Have you tried to negotiate, for example, along the lines of ‘if the tenancy progresses satisfactorily, I will install a new bathroom when you have lived there 6 months’. Tenants should not really rule the roost; however, if there is a surfeit of accommodation in your area and you’ve been waiting for a tenant, perhaps you should get it done. This time of year is usually a good time for bargains in the sale, too.
There are many queries that can arise in the private rental sector and it is always worth checking with an appropriate source if you are unsure about anything.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon