Landlords, there are many dos and don’ts, when it comes to property investment. From following rules and regulations regarding your let, to ensuring that the tenancy is handled in the correct way, we like to make sure that you have all the information you need – which is why we were astounded to see a recent viral Twitter post, featuring unreasonable demands to a tenant from their nightmare landlord:
Message from a landlord, "don't cook meals in the kitchen" pic.twitter.com/obTbfA2zbB
— Fenster (@FensterDJ) May 9, 2019
The person who posted the photo on Twitter has stated that this was a photo of a WhatsApp message that their friend had received from their landlord. The tenant now no longer lives in that house.
We don’t believe that such issues are common in the private rental sector (PRS), and the majority of landlords in the UK work hard to provide tenants with safe and comfortable housing. However, you should make sure that you are clear on what can be asked of your tenants and what can’t.
As was clearly the case for the poor recipient of that message, not making yourself clear can only lead to confusion and frustration. Before hitting that ‘send’ button, read through what you have written carefully and ask yourself if what you are asking for is a reasonable request. Consider writing out a formal email, if you want to make a particularly detailed request.
Any duties of the tenant that have been clearly stated in a tenancy agreement and signed by both parties will have to be enacted, so if you feel they are not fulfilling their commitment, then a polite request would be appropriate.
For example, a tenancy agreement may require basic maintenance on the garden, such as mowing the lawn and not allowing hedges to become overgrown. If you feel your tenants are not upholding this agreement, then let them know in a professional manner.
However, it is key to remember that, although you own the property, it is not your home; it is the tenant’s. This can be especially hard if you used to live there, but you should see the property as an investment and a source of income. If you are constantly interrupting them to make unreasonable requests, then you will struggle to find and keep reliable long-term tenants.
You should also make sure to provide them with sufficient notice, before arriving to perform periodic inspections. Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords have the right to inspect the “condition and state of repair” of the premises. However, the inspection must be conducted at “reasonable times of the day”, and at least 24 hours’ written notice must be given. If the tenant doesn’t give you permission, then you can’t enter.
If you spot anything that you suspect may cause problems with the property, it is understandable that you would want to say something to your tenants. But think carefully about how you do so. Instead of requesting that they “do not cook a big meal in the kitchen”, you need to articulate your worries to help them understand where you are coming from if you feel the issue is a genuine concern.
If it’s not directly damaging the property, you cannot expect them to use facilities in a specific way, just to keep you happy. They aren’t your guests; they are paying good money to call this place their home. Instead, you could politely remind them of any clauses in the agreement highlighting that funds may be retained from their deposit at the end of the tenancy, to cover the costs of any damages.
The main thing for landlords to remember is: how would you wish to be treated if you were the tenant? What would your expectations be? Treat tenants justly and they are far more likely to do so in return and respect you as the owner of the property.