So, your tenants are in place, they appear to be happy and paying their rent. What happens now?
Principally, you should leave tenants alone. The ‘covenant of quiet enjoyment’ which is automatically incorporated into any tenancy agreement, provides that tenants are entitled to live in the property in peace and without interference from their landlord.
However, you do need to do regular inspections.
These are often unpopular with tenants who, not unreasonably, don’t like people coming in and inspecting their home. However they are important and indeed necessary.
For a number of reasons:
The worst case scenario is probably conversion of a property to a cannabis farm. This can happen to any landlord as seemingly respectable tenants may turn out to have been ‘fronting’ criminals who then move in and take over.
I understand that gangs can convert a property and get two cannabis harvests within six months so quarterly inspections, at least in the initial year, are advisable.
Make sure you check all areas too as sometimes just a part of a property is used, for example the loft in a house.
Mind you, if you make it clear that you will be carrying out regular inspections when interviewing prospective tenants this will probably put the criminals off in the first place. But do the inspections anyway.
You have various repairing obligations under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, to keep the structure and exterior of the property in repair and the installations for the supply of utilities, space and water heating.
Although the landlord’s liability under this act is limited to items he has had notice of, the Defective Premises Act 1972 s4 refers to the landlord having a duty of care irrespective of action notice provided ‘he ought in all the circumstances to have known of the relevant defect’.
So it is a good idea to keep an eye on the property and do regular inspections. This may also be to your financial advantage as repair works are usually cheaper if done early.
As you will no doubt have carefully checked the occupiers before allowing them into occupation, you need to make sure that no-one unauthorised is living at the property.
For example if unauthorised occupiers are there this could affect the validity of your insurance or mortgage.
It is also not unknown for tenants to just up and leave the property. In which case you will want to know about this so you can (after taking all due precautions) change the locks and re-let it.
A property is a valuable investment so you should check up on it from time to time. Tenants, if unchecked, can do all sorts of damage, sometimes with the best of intentions. So it is important that you check the property over regularly and make sure that nothing is being done that you would not like.
This can be a big problem and there are differing views on a landlord’s rights in this situation. My view is that the landlord can only go in with the tenant’s permission. However I know that many landlords have strong views to the contrary – see this post on my blog here.
If a tenant refuses to let you in, then probably the best course of action is to tell the tenant that unless they change their mind, you will have no alternative but to end their tenancy at the end of the term by serving a section 21 notice.
If the tenancy has a long term still to run, another alternative is to apply for an injunction. As landlords have a statutory right to enter the property to view its state of repair under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 s11(6) you would undoubtedly get your order, plus an order for costs against the tenants. If you mention this to them it may change their mind!
Further information on this and other topics can be found on my Landlord Law Blog at www.landlordlawblog.co.uk .
Tessa is a lawyer specialising in landlord & tenant law and runs the popular Landlord Law online service for landlords.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; we offer both insured and custodial protection. We also provide fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.
These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees. Content is correct at the time of writing.