How to avoid tenant troubles over the Christmas period

With Christmas only a couple of weeks away, we all want to begin to wind down for the festive period and enjoy some time off with our families. For landlords and letting agents, this means making sure that all managed properties are up to date with inspections and the tenants are happy.

However, there are unfortunate circumstances where the tenants are the problem. This can be the case at any time of the year, but there are certain factors at Christmas that make problems arise. Here is a list of potential tenant troubles to avoid:

Illegal sub-letting

Sub-letting can often start off harmless enough, with the tenant allowing a friend or family member to sleep on their sofa or make use of a spare room. At this time of year, it wouldn’t be unusual for visitors to stay for a few days. However, this is technically illegal if the tenancy agreement does not allow it and the landlord has not given permission.

Sub-letting can occur without the landlord or letting agent’s knowledge quite easily if a keen eye is not kept on the property. No one is asking you to stake out the property with a pair of binoculars and a ghillie suit, but arranging a visit to the property will give you peace of mind.

If you uncover proof that your tenant has been illegally subletting, be sure to collect as much evidence as possible. Check to see if neighbours have CCTV covering the property. They may have footage showing someone moving in. Collecting witness statements from neighbours can also help. If your tenants have been particularly professional about their illegal sub-letting, they may have used a short-term letting website such as Airbnb or spareroom.com. If photos of the property have been uploaded, then you can also use screenshots as evidence.

Pest problems from party mess

It’s party season, which means Christmas crackers, drinks bottles, party streamers, leftover food and other rubbish that can attract unwanted creatures. Even the tiniest of pests can mean big trouble.

Vermin such as mice and rats will be attracted to any food left out, and once they’ve settled in, it can be difficult to remove them. Once you have a pest problem in your property, there’s no telling what damage they will cause. They can gnaw through floorboards and skirting boards, getting into the electrical wiring.

Not only is this a massive financial pain for yourself, but the pests will not differentiate between a landlord’s property and a tenant’s, so it’s in the occupants’ best interests to avoid this situation. Laziness when it comes to cleaning can set in, especially at this time of year when everyone is in holiday mode. Nevertheless, reminding your tenants of the importance of keeping a clean house to avoid pests will hopefully convince them to keep on top of the tidying.

tenant troubles
How to avoid tenant troubles over the Christmas period

Anti-social tenant troubles

The most even-tempered of us can become a bit more cantankerous after a few Christmas beverages. This can lead to more openly aggressive behaviour and a person’s ability to act reasonably can take a hit. If your tenants are partying hard this Christmas, the last thing you want is to receive complaints from the neighbours.

It’s an awkward situation to end up in, leaving you feeling like a school teacher telling off a child. No one likes to have to call another adult out on their behaviour, but as a landlord, you may have to deal with this situation. More often than not, it’ll simply be alcohol affecting the situation, and they’ll calm down once it’s worn off and the hangover has kicked in.

Universal Credit payments

Landlords letting to tenants receiving Universal Credit payments may be concerned that the schedule might be thrown off by the bank holidays.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that this year the benefit will be paid a day early for some. As an example, those expecting a payment on Christmas Day or Boxing Day will receive it on 24th December instead. Those due to be paid on 1st January will see theirs brought forward to 31st December.

When will Universal Credit Payments be made Christmas 2019?

Due date: Wednesday 24th December
Actual pay date: No change

Due date: Wednesday 25th December
Actual pay date: Tuesday 24th December

Due date: Thursday 26th December
Actual pay date: Tuesday 24th December

Due date: Friday 27th December
Actual pay date: No change

Due date: Tuesday 31st December
Actual pay date: No change

Due date: Wednesday 1st January
Actual pay date: Tuesday 31st December

Due date: Thursday 2nd January
Actual pay date: Tuesday 31st December (Scotland only)

Source: https://www.gov.uk/how-to-have-your-benefits-paid

Prevent tenant troubles all-year-round

To avoid tenant troubles all-year-round, periodic inspections are imperative. Carried out either by the landlord or letting agent, a regular check-up will serve as a reminder to the tenants to look after their home.

Periodic inspections also provide a key opportunity for any maintenance issues to be addressed. Taking care of any problems with the property will help to avoid tenant troubles and keep them happy, preventing bigger and more expensive situations in the future!

For more tips on inspections, check out our guide: https://www.justlandlords.co.uk/news/landlords-guide-to-periodic-inspections/

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