Dealing with Less Common Situations
There are dozens of Acts of Parliament and hundreds of regulations to cover almost every situation that arises when letting a property, we have put together a few tips for dealing with some of the more unusual ones.
Notice requiring a landlord’s details
Most landlords are aware that a tenancy agreement should make reference an address for a tenant to serve a notice on the landlord. If the property is managed by an agent then the agents address can be used or any address the landlord wishes to use for communications from the tenant rather than give their home address.
However, occasionally you may get a request under Section 1, Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 which is a request from the tenant for the landlord’s name and address. Don’t confuse this with a request for an address to serve notice on the landlord under the 1987 Act as above. In this case the tenant is entitled by law to receive the landlord’s full name and home address within 21 days of the request being made. There are large penalties for landlords or agents who do not comply with the request.
The request must be in writing from the tenant and they are only entitled to the landlord’s name and address, not phone numbers or email’s etc. And the request can only be made while they are tenants; once the tenancy ends they lose that entitlement.
Selling a property with a tenant in situ
It’s a common occurrence for landlords to sell a property with a tenant in place. But did you know that you should also make sure that the tenant is given the new owners name in accordance with a notice under S47 & S48, Landlord & Tenant Act 1987 once the property changes hand?
There are two very good reasons for this, the second reason is especially important if you are the landlord selling the property.
- Until the tenant is advised officially who the (new) landlord is, the rent is not lawfully due, and
- The landlord selling the property remains equally liable for any breaches of contract by the new owner until that notice is served!
Best practise is to serve the notice on your tenant yourself on the day you complete or ask your solicitor to do it for you.
Buying a property with a tenant in situ
When you are buying a property with a tenant already in place it is good practise to make sure that you know what sort of tenancy they have, whether the rent account is upto date, where the deposit is, are there any outstanding problems etc.
But why is it important to know what the original agreement says? Its because:
- Under the Housing Act the new landlord is bound by whatever terms the original landlord agreed with the tenant.
- There is no requirement, or need, to change the tenancy agreement. Nothing has changed apart from the identity of the ‘Landlord’. The new owner assumes the tile of Landlord under the agreement so existing agreement remains valid even if its not in your name.
- A tenant can refuse to sign a new agreement outright or if it makes negative changes to their existing agreement that they haven’t agreed to ie rent increase, change of term etc.
- If the new landlord is unhappy with this, all they can do is give the tenant notice (if the existing tenancy agreement allows)
Joint tenants want to split up
There is little that is more frustrating than a tenant who demands that their name be ‘taken off the tenancy agreement’ as they no longer live. This occasionally happens where a couple have split up or sharers have fallen out and one wants to move out while the other wishes to stay.
The law is quite clear on the legal position; a name can’t just ‘be removed’ from a tenancy agreement, it is a legally binding document so both tenants remain equally liable until the tenancy comes to an end. However, there are ways of dealing with this issue; you could offer the remaining tenant a new tenancy in their sole name; you could give the tenants notice to leave (subject to the terms of the tenancy agreement) or you could just leave it until the tenancy runs its natural course if you think the remaining tenant will be able to pay the rent.
Whichever course of action you take, it is advisable to write to the leaving tenant to let them know that they will remain liable for the terms of the tenancy agreement until the tenancy ends or is superceded by a new tenancy.
You will also need to consider how the deposit needs to be dealt with in the circumstances.
And one for landlords of commercial properties…
The ‘double rent’ Act
How many times has a landlord been in a position where a tenant has given notice to vacate the property, the landlord has found a new tenant to take the property – and at the last moment the original tenants says they can’t/won’t move out? Well, commercial landlords have it a little easier than domestic landlords.
A little known law, S18 The Distress for Rent Act 1737, allows a commercial landlord to charge double rent in the circumstances where a tenant has given notice to vacate but fails to give up possession. 281 years old and its never been repealed or amended so can still be used today in certain circumstances.