Tenant Issues - New Landlord Requesting Advice

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  • Tenant Issues - New Landlord Requesting Advice

    For the past year I have let my family home (work commitments meant I've had to live elsewhere), using a fully managed service provided by a local letting agent. I let the property on the understanding that it was a single tenant with her young son and no pets (although I advertised the property as pets considered). For the majority of the year I've had no problems with the tenant. The rent has always been paid on time (give or take a few days), quarterly inspections show that the property has been kept in a good condition and the next door neighbours (who I'm still in contact with) have not reported any issues. Communication with the tenant has been difficult (arranging inspections etc.) but that was more of an issue for the letting agent as I was paying for the fully managed service.

    More recently I provided the tenant, via the letting agent, with one month's notice for my own contractor to complete a gas safety inspection and boiler service at my property. On the day of the work I was alarmed to receive a call from the contractor stating that a man had run out of my property and demanded aggressively that they get off 'his' drive.

    Conversations with the letting agent followed and I also contacted my old neighbours for further information. They informed me that the man had been living with the tenant in the property since the start of the tenancy. They also noted that she had a small dog since the beginning. They did, however, note that they had no issues with the tenant and would be content if she stayed in the property.

    Over the past 2 months the letting agent has been communicating with the tenant about her living situation and the gas safety inspection has now finally been completed. She continues to state that the man doesn't live there full time and I don't want to cause difficulties with my old neighbours by quoting them on what they observed. I have requested, via the letting agent, proof that the man is not living at the property. The tenant has provided the man's driving licence (which is 7 years' out of date) and a tenancy agreement with his name on at another property until 2019. I have requested that carpet cleaning at the end of the tenancy is added to any new agreement we may sign (due to the pet with no extra deposit provided) and that the tenant's communication is vastly improved. I have also made it clear that any repeat of threatening behaviour towards a contractor will not be tolerated.

    I would be grateful for advice on the following questions:

    - Would you be content with the proof provided by the tenant that the man is not living at the property? My concern is that if the situation gets worse and malicious damage is caused, that the insurance company wouldn't pay out? Have I done everything I can to prove that the man is not living at the property full time?

    - Would you continue with the tenant bearing in mind that the rent has always been paid and that the property is being kept in a good condition? Or would you serve notice, take a financial hit and hope that the next tenant is better?

  • #2
    Well I certainly wouldn't be giving them a new agreement.

    I think you made your own bed when you advertised 'pets considered'. Obviously in this tenant's mind, that is the green light.

    Up to you whether to evict or not. I suspect the place will smell 'doggy' though, so may need new carpets for next tenant.

    BTW, I take it this is a benefit tenant, hence not wanting to admit man there? If you give a new tenancy knowing what you know, are you not a party to benefit fraud?

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    • #3
      Thank you for your reply JK0.

      I was particularly annoyed that the tenant said that she didn't have any pets when she was provided with the opportunity to discuss her situation prior to signing the tenancy agreement. If she had declared a small dog I would have been content provided that the appropriate deposit was secured. My biggest issue is the lie that has been told followed by several dubious excuses.

      I don't know whether the tenant is claiming benefits or not. I also have no definite proof that the man lives there (apart from the neighbours observations). The documents the tenant has provided indicates that he is on a tenancy agreement elsewhere but I don't know whether the information provided is sufficient or legitimate. For all I know he may have written the tenancy agreement himself from a template on the internet.

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      • #4
        It's not former family home, it's an investment property.

        What notices have you served on Tenant?
        I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

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        • #5
          We haven't served any notices on the tenant yet. All we have done is request for proof that she is the sole tenant via the letting agent.

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          • #6
            I would not renew the contract. The gas safety certificate is a legal requirement which can cause headaches if it has not been performed. You can try have a look in the local library on the electoral register to see who is registered to live there. Furthermore, requesting council tax proof and seeing if the tenant gets a 25% single person allowance could be a way.

            Nevertheless, having a small dog in breach of an agreement and a man making life hell for your plumber just doing his job is enough for me to issue S21.

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            • #7
              Even though the library probably has both edited and unedited registers, it would be illegal to use the latter for this purpose, and they may have opted out of the former.

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              • #8
                Thanks for the advice fullhouse50.

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                • #9
                  The full register is available in local libraries or at the British Library. Whilst your allowed to make notes from them, I do think it would be difficult to go down the route of eviction on the premise that more people reside at the property than there should. It is more to used to understand the true circumstance of the tenants living arrangements.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
                    Even though the library probably has both edited and unedited registers, it would be illegal to use the latter for this purpose, and they may have opted out of the former.
                    How is it "illegal" to look up something on the electoral register.

                    Though I doubt it will be of use here anyway. I am with the majority - you cannot afford marginal or deceptive tenants these days. Get rid.

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                    • #11
                      AndrewDod - noted thanks. Is that because landlords are now more accountable for their tenants? Does having a fully managed service from a letting agent protect me in any way?

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                      • #12
                        No, you are the LL and Agent acts for YOU.
                        Does the AST contain a 'no subletting' clause?
                        You can't legally prevent the T having a b/f,lodger,temp guest staying for most of the time.

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                        • #13
                          The AST doesn't specifically have a subletting clause but it states that the premises should only be used as a private residence for the occupation of the tenant and her immediate family.

                          If I can't legally prevent the tenant having a guest staying most of the time, then am I also not legally responsible for the actions of that guest? If the tenant has signed the tenancy agreement are they then responsible for the conduct of their guests?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post

                            How is it "illegal" to look up something on the electoral register.

                            Though I doubt it will be of use here anyway. I am with the majority - you cannot afford marginal or deceptive tenants these days. Get rid.
                            The unedited electoral registers is only made available in libraries in order to check the right to vote. The only people who can use it for any other purpose are certain named credit reference agencies (three in total, I think) and probably the authorities for law enforcement purposes. The only way that you can use it for business purposes is via a credit reference agency and I think they will only be allowed to confirm that a named person lives there, not supply a name.

                            See, for example, http://www.rother.gov.uk/article/112...7&inplace=true

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                            • #15
                              you said quarterly inspections have revealed the property is good BUT why didn't the agents/inspection notice the dog or even the additional tenant - even if the additional tenant had taken the dog out for a walk, surely they would have asked, even if only for confirmation whether anyone else lives there or any pets since they moved in? if not, then perhaps you should tell them to do so !!

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