As a landlord or letting agent, effective communication with tenants has always been a cornerstone of a successful rental business. With the reforms coming it is incredibly important for you to develop good relationships with your tenants. Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notices are going to be abolished, meaning you will not be able to evict as easily in the future and will need to rely on various grounds for possession under Section 8, such as rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.
Open lines of communication between you and your tenants are crucial to achieving a successful relationship. Not only does it help to build strong relationships but can also prevent any disagreements from escalating into costly legal disputes in the future. It’s important to remember that effective communication is a two-way street. By setting clear expectations and having open lines of communication throughout a tenancy, you can help to protect yourself as much as possible from potential legal disputes and in turn tenants can be confident that you or your landlord is providing a safe property for them to rent. Not only does discussing issues as they come up give both parties peace of mind, but it can also help to identify any potential problems earlier and prevent them from escalating.
You should include clear expectations of both parties at the start of the tenancy so that everyone is aware of their rights and responsibilities. A properly drafted tenancy agreement is imperative to record the terms agreed between the parties. Tenants should be clear on their obligations, for example, what is expected of them under the tenancy and what responsibilities fall to the landlord.
It is valuable to have regular communication or even check-ins with tenants to go over any concerns or questions they may have. Regular inspections of the property should be carried out to assess the overall condition of the property and record any repairs or maintenance that may be required. Any concerns can then be voiced at an early stage to prevent any spotted issues from getting worse. Tenants need to be given sufficient notice of the inspection and you should also ensure these are not carried out too often or unnecessarily.
Systems can be put in place to communicate issues and concerns, for instance, maintenance or repair communication. We recommend keeping a log of all communication in the event that there is a dispute later down the line and copies of these correspondence will be required for evidence in court.
Technology platforms or property management software makes systems and processes easier to manage the landlord and tenant relationship. For example, an online tenant portal could be set up for tenants to report any issues. These systems document the history of the tenancy and are extremely valuable if disputes arise and solicitors need to extract information, such as the date that maintenance issues are reported by the tenant and the date a contractor attends the property to resolve the issue.
If a dispute does arise between landlord and tenant, it is important to resolve it without recourse to court in the first instance to attempt to preserve the relationship between the parties. Sometimes unfortunately the relationship has irretrievably broken down and court proceedings do need to be initiated. Specialist lawyers such as our partners Woodstock Legal Services are able to guide landlords and letting agents through the eviction process and obtain possession of the property as swiftly as possible.