Modifications without consent

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    Modifications without consent

    Hello,

    I would really appreciate your views on what you would do in this situation.

    My tenants have been renting my property for over 2 years. They think they own the house and don't respect the tenancy agreement they signed. Every time I go round there (quarterly) there is some sort of damage from neglect or he has put in new fixings. I've turned a blind eye to child safety gates, doorbells, coat hangers, many picture hooks etc but expressed I wasn't happy when they concreted in a new step without asking me first a year ago. I've just discovered he's since hinged a different loft hatch door, is using the loft for storage and even put in a loft ladder without telling me. I haven't confronted them about it yet. I met with them before signing the contract and he asked about using the loft for storage, I clearly said it wasn't suitable (no lighting, not fully boarded, very dusty & dirty) but that there is a garage and 2 storage cupboards. Its a spacious 3 bed, they only have 1 small child. He said it was not a problem. He has done this without even discussing it with me and only 5 months ago I said we had to improve the landlord-tenant relationship as they were ignoring my emails to get the GSC done. Yet they still didn't tell me about the loft, I'm not sure when they did it as I may have only just noticed it.

    I can't mention everything but some examples of neglet are they were letting the sealant go black, cut a chunk off my garden gate because it wouldn't close properly instead of telling me, got lots of black tar bits over the new patio with no attempt to clean it off and had removed a back door mat for last 5 months they got covered in tar so there are now black stains on the carpet they walked in (I spent an hour scrubbing the tar off the patio last time i was there). They are cluttered, messy and not that clean. They have damaged the newly laid back lawn, that took enormous effort to level and lay. It is now very patchy with little grass. They were only cutting it every 2 months or so and just before I came round. I have reminded them over the 2 years half a dozen times to cut/ rake the lawn but they still don't. Never seem to cut the edges either. I provided the lawn mower. They didn't tell me about a water leak from the bathroom into Kitchen (only when I bumped into them in the supermarket and asked if everything was ok) or about a new garage door that became faulty whilst under guarentee and they had been forcing it open and shut, lucky I found it just before the guarentee ran out. The wife can be quite aggressive and nasty in her attitude towards me and the husband has ignored dozens of my emails.

    I've been a really good landlord, putting in a new fence, fixing any issues, not increasing the rent at all. Going round to the property makes me a bit anxious as I don't know what I am going to find next, their communication is so poor. Now I am having to be a bit more official and document inspection issues to them in an email for them to put right. That seems to be working, but now after discovering the loft alterations I'm in two minds whether to just give them 2 months notice or just carry on insisting that they put back the loft as it was, promise to cut the grass more frequently and agree to a rent rise. I'm not sure how they will handle it, I'm a bit concerned if I give them 2 months notice they won't leave or if they do then the next tenants might be just as bad or worse. Or if I send the email they kick up a fuss they have rights to use the loft as renting the house and just become even more difficult. They have been there just over 2 years and so I understand at the moment I'd only need to give a section 21 notice but do they have more rights to stay the longer they are there, e.g. if over 3 years?

    I'd be interested know how other landlords would handle it.

    Thanks (in advance)

    Ann

    #2
    None of that sounds particularly unusual behaviour for long-term tenants.
    That's what letting a property is like - it's not perfect, but it's their home and they're living in it.

    I suspect that this property used to be your home (or was a family member's home).
    If so.you're going to have to let it go, as otherwise, this is going to be an issue regardless of who the tenants are.

    Looked at without emotion, you seem to have OK tenants who're paying the rent and look like they're going to be there for years.
    Looked at as strangers using your home, they're unwelcome, messy and don't behave as you would like.

    I'm sure others would disagree with me.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      Either accept this is what they are like and move on or resolve to sort issues out. If so then write a firm but calm & polite letter pointing out their breaches of the agreement, reminding them they are liable to re-instate/repair/cost of making good. Enclose s8g12 & s21 & s13. Evict if problems not sorted within a month (or at least progress & a firm plan).

      If loft is excluded from tenancy then you are liable for council tax. Does tenancy specifically exclude loft?
      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...

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for your opinions, greatly appreciated.

        Jpkeates- It was a buy to let but I had spent a lot of money and time renovating it. I'm fairly new to being a landlord. I just wanted it looked after. If I knew they would be there many years I probably wouldn't be so worried (as long as its not completely wrecked), but if they move out in another year and I have loads of repairs, a lawn and carpets to replace that's not so good.

        theartfulldodger - the loft wasn't excluded in the tenancy contract. But it had not been made to be a safe storage place. That was pointed out to the tenants prior to them signing their contract. So I think if they argued it they are not being fair. Its not been fully boarded across the loft, thick black dirt everywhere and has no lighting. They could put their foot though the ceiling and cause of lot of damage. Also the new door hatch they hinged wasn't a great job and now has gaps all around it so probably affected EPC value. Not sure what they've done with the original loft board. I'm not storing my stuff up there, so I don't think I am liable to pay council tax, its just that it was never suitable for storage. The TA says they can't make alterations without my consent. It feels like they have arrogantly gone behind my back and changed my loft hatch/ loft use. I haven't had an inventory done up there so can't prove any damage or easily inspect it. The loft access was only there for contractors to access electrical wires or the roof, which will be more difficult now with so much of their stuff in the way. The tenants are such hoarders that I can imagine the loft getting more and more filled up, with them bringing black dirt down onto the carpets every time they go up there.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Ann74 View Post
          Jpkeates- It was a buy to let but I had spent a lot of money and time renovating it. I'm fairly new to being a landlord. I just wanted it looked after. If I knew they would be there many years I probably wouldn't be so worried (as long as its not completely wrecked), but if they move out in another year and I have loads of repairs, a lawn and carpets to replace that's not so good.
          In which case, don't worry about something that may not happen.

          This is a business.
          You should probably assume that carpets in most traffic heavy areas will last 5 years at best and decoration will need refreshing (at least) every 5 or 6 years.
          Gardens are a complete pain unless you have a keen gardener as a tenant - the nicer they are, the more they suffer.

          The tenants sound like they're planning to be there long term and, if not, that's the time to address the issues, not worry about them now.

          Tenants general wear and tear is greater than an owners, you just have to accept that.

          I'd probably suggest fewer inspections, because every quarter is quite a lot when the tenants are well established.

          Set aside some of the rent for the inevitable refurbishement when they leave - that's good business practice anyway (I budget for 10 month's income a year to allow for voids and maintenance).
          When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
          Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

          Comment


            #6
            Lodger not dodger, I don't dodge. Serious point, details matter in landlord/tenant stuff especially paperwork - e.g. loft not usable for storage in agreement not just verbally pointing out.

            I'd evict.
            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...

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks again for your replies.

              I agree with both your points. Yes wish I'd put something in the contract about "as agreed with tenants loft not suitable for storage". ...all part of the steep learning curve!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
                If loft is excluded from tenancy then you are liable for council tax. Does tenancy specifically exclude loft?
                As I'm aware of cases where garages are excluded, I double checked the legislation, and, as far as I can see, this only applies where there is multiple occupations (but it can be only two people). The primary legislation is http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/14/section/6 Section 8 provides for certain exceptions, but the only vaguely relevant one is when there are two households, which don't have access to the whole property, assuming I've found all the currently live SIs. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1...ulation/2/made

                Comment


                  #9
                  leaseholder64- thank you for the legislation on the council tax. Yes I think I agree it looks only to be in HMO cases.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Note that two occupants isn't an HMO for other purposes.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      You can expect/charge T to return Property to its move in condition at end of T. DO NOT allow T to undertake any structural changes or decorating without your prior written consent.
                      Join NLA/RLA for some LL training.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Council tax for HMO is different to housing act HMO
                        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...

                        Comment


                          #13
                          UPDATE

                          Hi,

                          Further to this I decided to email my tenants a polite email asking them to put back the loft hatch to how it was originally pointing out that they have potentially breached the contract, and notified them of a (overdue) rent increase for which I generously gave them 2 months notice. They replied a couple of days later agreeing to this. However 1 week after my email to them I've received 2 tenant reference requests for them, as they obviously must have found somewhere else to live.

                          Please can you advise what you would do? The reference is asking if I consider them to be good tenants! In my opinion I don't think so, but is it best to say that? I'm quite annoyed (but not at all surprised) they didn't have the decency to let me know they'd found somewhere else or were even looking to move on. I think I've behaved more than reasonable in the circumstances after they changed my loft without permission (and breached the contract 5 other times as well). I gave them two months notice for the rent increase, so didn't expect this until at least after Xmas. Not an ideal time for me to re-advertise the property.

                          Ann

                          Comment


                            #14
                            'My tenants' behaviour has been everything I have come to expect of them.'

                            Comment


                              #15
                              JKO- that's a great accurate reference for them!

                              Unfortunately the referencing company is only asking for yes/ no answers. So they are asking "Has the tenancy been conducted in a satisfactory manner?" and "do you consider the applicant to be a good tenant?"... my opinion is "no" to both of those. But it is only my opinion and its not like they were the worst ever tenants. Also they are still in my property. So maybe its best to let them go quietly

                              Comment

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