Never get into rental disputes again
One of the most common questions we’re asked here at Ezytrac is how to avoid rental disputes. This could be an argument over increasing rents or ways to avoid non-payment of rent, to proving that rent hasn’t been paid. Many buy-to-let landlords get into rental problems at some time in their property investing ‘career’. We don’t think it has to be this way, and by using these six simple strategies (and heeding one important warning), you’ll find that rental disputes become a thing of the past.
1. Always start by charging the right rent
Research the market place and assess rents for properties like yours. This is something that you should have done before investing, using a strategy of calling local agents and acting as a landlord (to find the highest possible rent) and a tenant (to find the lowest possible rent). The real price will be somewhere between the extremes of rental prices you discover.
2. Use a rental review clause
One of the 10 essential tenancy agreement terms and conditions is to include details about rental reviews. Do this and your tenant will be pre-warned: an increase won’t come as a nasty surprise and be more easily accepted.
3. Make sure that tenants pay rent by standing order
Again, this could be a clause in the tenancy agreement. When tenants pay by standing order, you won’t have to worry about late payment or non-payment.
4. Keep proper rental records
If the tenant pays by standing order, keeping records is easier (it’s shown on bank statements). However, if the tenant pays by other methods, or making an ad-hoc payment, ensure that you have issued a receipt and kept a copy of it.
5. Make sure you have written proof of the tenant’s agreement to the rent review
As a buy-to-let landlord, this is one of the key ways to avoid rental disputes. Whenever you increase the rent, have the tenant sign a new agreement or addendum to the existing tenancy agreement (and don’t forget to date it and add in the time of the next review).
6. Don’t let the tenant fall behind with their rent
Any late payment of rent will damage your cash flow, so you want to avoid this at all costs. If the tenant is late in paying, send a letter to remind them that they have missed the payment date. Don’t be afraid to warn of eviction and also to take action early (it could take several months to evict a tenant). Some tenancy agreements include break clauses, which we look at in our next post “To break or not to break, that is the buy-to-let landlord’s conundrum.”
The caveat for the buy-to-let landlord
Providing you follow the above six rental disputes strategies, as a buy-to-let landlord, you should find a tenancy progresses smoothly. But what if your tenant simply refuses to accept a rent increase?
In this case, if you try to force the increase on the tenant, it may be that the tenant decides to get the Rent Assessment Committee, or Residential Property Tribunal Service involved to act as a sort of arbitrator. It could be that the rent is reviewed down if one of these bodies feels that you are currently charging too high rent – the way to proceed is with caution, and redo your rental price research: you may find that compromise on a rental increase is the best way.
In our experience, providing you take a balanced view and keep your tenant informed, and, of course, make sure that you are a ‘good landlord’, the majority of rent rises are accepted willingly. This is where good property management pays dividends – ensuring that maintenance issues are dealt with efficiently, paperwork is effective, tenants are vetted properly, and property inventories are comprehensive, for example.
his question about avoiding rental disputes has been raised by many of our prospective buy-to-let landlord clients before they became clients. If you’ve got a topic that you would like discussed, drop us a line or call us on+44 1522 503 717. We’re here to help.
Yours in effortless property management,