Landlord Advice - "Protect your house from the people you let into it!"

Article

28 June, 2006

Thinking of renting out your house? Residential landlords face difficult enough business decisions for their properties without worrying about legal headaches caused by unreliable tenants, but a few small preparations can make a big difference.

One of the basic first principles for a landlord is to make sure that everything is done above board and in writing. Approaching the commercial property department of a law firm to ask for help in drafting a standard tenancy agreement is a worthwhile investment to make sure all your bases are covered. If you agree something with the tenant, write it down and sign it!

The biggest problem I see for small landlords is tenants who trash a property or don't pay the rent and then have no money to pay the county court judgment. If you think your business is too small to absorb large repair and legal bills, always ask for references, guarantors and/or a deposit before allowing a tenant into the property. References from previous landlords and from friends decrease the risk of unsuitable occupants, whilst guarantors such as homeowning parents can be pursued if the matter goes to court. The deposit can usually be forfeited to pay for repairs and other costs.

If you think you are going to have to get rid of a tenant, go to a firm of solicitors first. If you try to change the locks without going through the proper procedures, you can be sued or even prosecuted. A specialist lawyer can handle the entire process from serving notice to overseeing the bailiffs' eviction. The use of solicitors also helps having to deal with tenants who may hold a personal grudge against you.

With a little help from an expert, the stressful side of dealing with problem tenants can be much reduced and you can better protect your investment.

Stuart Penswick, Commercial Litigation Department

Tel 01772 220022 or email Stuart Penswick

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