Tenancies By The Book

Tenancies by the book
 

Good private sector landlords run their properties and tenancies by the book, following the requirements of the law, as specified in the 1988 and 1996 housing acts. They make sure that they have good paperwork, with a clear and detailed tenancy agreement, a full inventory, and a good rent account.


Landlords that do this prove they are responsible landlords. But what happens when you get a tenant that does not want to abide by what is agreed in the tenancy agreement and at the beginning of the tenancy?

A recent query demonstrated that no matter how organised the landlord, no matter how high a standard of property management by the book, it does not guarantee that a tenant will do what he should.

A good, but exacting, landlord, received a call from a tenant who had lived in his property for nearly 2 years. They had a good landlord and tenant relationship, with no rent arrears and, on the face of it at least, no damages. Obviously, the landlord was disappointed to hear from the tenant on 6th June that he would be moving out on 6th July as he had purchased his own property.

Perhaps the landlord should have been prepared to be a little flexible under the circumstances, but he told him the notice should be in writing (standard procedure) but also that the notice period should follow tenancy dates. As the tenancy began on the 29th of the month, the notice period should expire on 28th of the following month, in this case, 28th July.  Although hard words were not exchanged, the landlord did not receive the formal notice.  The tenant had advised that his mobile telephone would send and accept texts, but that it was impossible to speak on it – despite having done so to advise he was leaving. When the notice was not received, my advice was sought.

The law can specify the correct notice period and how to calculate it, but in this case, to comply fully with the law, the notification of leaving, on 6th June, would have meant the actual notice should have ended 7 weeks later. If the tenant has a mortgage to pay from 6th July, he is hardly likely to be happy about paying rent for a further 3 weeks. This was a good tenant, so perhaps deserving of a little flexibility. The landlord was advised to write a clear letter stating exactly what the position was, but as a sign of good will, compromise, and accept a notice period which ends on 14th July, 2 weeks early and wishing him well for the future.

Despite this, a notice in writing was still not received; there has been no contact at all. It is fairly clear that the tenant has no intention of complying with the legal requirement of notice in writing, but the landlord is frustrated – is the tenant moving? Has the house he was buying fallen through? The next rent, payable monthly in advance, is due on 29th June. What is paid (if anything) may indicate whether he intends to vacate. If nothing is paid, use someone else’s mobile to ring him, (in case he is refusing to answer the landlord’s number) to try and ascertain the position. 

It seems like the landlord who works properly by the book and expect their tenants to do the same, may be disappointed. Of course, landlords can stick to the letter of the law, try to pursue them for what they are entitled to – but that can lead to madness. Often better not to insist on what the law says, but accept what the tenant is happy to give you if it is reasonable, and graciously accept.

For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon 

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