On the 1st December 2014, the Immigration Act 2014 came into effect. Under Section 22 of this act a landlord must not authorise an adult to occupy a property as their only or main home under a residential tenancy agreement unless the adult is a British citizen, or EEA or Swiss national, or has a ‘right to rent’ in the UK. Someone will have the ‘right to rent’ in the UK provided they are present lawfully in accordance with immigration laws. Landlords who breach section 22 may be liable for a civil penalty.

Landlords have the option to appoint an agent to act on their behalf and where an agent has accepted this responsibility, the agent will be the liable party in place of the landlord (non-compliance with the legislation could lead to a fine of up to £3,000.00) The legislation and civil penalty scheme will be introduced in geographical phases starting with a pilot area of Birmingham, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell from the 1st December 2014. From this date, any adult who wishes to occupy a property as their main/principle home under a residential tenancy will be required to provide their agent/landlord with proof of their ‘right to rent’.

Acceptable documentation includes passports and biometric residence permits. In a limited number of cases, such as where tenants don’t have their documents due to an ongoing Home Office application, landlords can request a check using the ‘right to rent’ tool on the website.

It is currently proposed that the legislation will rollout nationally in April 2015 (however this is subject to change by the government).

The legislation does not require any right to rent check to be carried out for any occupants of tenancies which commenced prior to the 1st December 2014. In brief there are 3 steps in establishing and maintaining a statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty:

  1. Conduct initial right to rent checks before authorising any adult to occupy rented accommodation.
  2. Conduct follow-up checks at the appropriate date if initial checks indicate that an occupier has a time-limited right to rent.
  3. Make a report to the Home Office if follow-up checks indicate that an occupier no longer has the right to rent.

Prior to accepting an offer from an applicant, the responsible party should complete the following:

  1. Obtain original acceptable documents of all occupants over 18 years of age (including permitted occupants, family etc)
  2. Check, in the presence of the holder, that the documents appear genuine, that the person presenting them is the prospective occupier, the rightful holder and allowed to occupy the property.
  3. Copy each document clearly, retain a record of when the check was made and retain the copies securely for at least one year after the tenancy agreement comes to an end.

Where an applicant has a time-limited right to rent, the landlord will have an obligation to conduct follow up checks to ensure a tenant continues to have rights to reside in the UK. This check must be carried out either within a year of the previous check or on expiry of the persons permission to be in the UK whichever is later.

Checks must be carried out in the same process as above (original documents, in person and copies taken). – Further information regarding the legal requirements can be found https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice

I received a call from a tenant the other day; he had moved into a property with his partner and had sent the landlord a long list of issues on day one. The landlord kept his response simple, “Sorry, sold as seen” and as far as he was concerned that was it. The tenants subsequently sent me the list and asked for my advice on their position. Here’s the list:

  1. Lounge walls have lots of scuff marks and needs an immediate re-paint
  2. Chest of drawers in second bedroom not opening smoothly and needs repairing
  3. Mould in sealant around the bath needs replacing
  4. Cushions on the sofa are very flat and uncomfortable
  5. Only 3 dining room chairs at the table which should have 4
  6. Lock on the master bedroom door doesn’t work

I can see the landlords point;the tenant saw the house online, viewed the property with the estate agents and wanted it as it was. Yes there are a couple of understandable points within the tenants list, but I imagine on reading it the landlord had the sudden realisation he had some rather pedantic tenants on his hands for the next year! Then I thought are these tenants pedantic or are they just house proud? They have gone through the flat and are not happy about scuff marked walls and mould around the edge of their bath.

I once had two male tenants,professional sharers just out of uniin one of my flats. At the first maintenance inspection three months in they had not even unpacked their moving boxes and it was pretty evident they didn’t clean the bathroom or kitchen either. At the end of the tenancy the mould on the shower and bath seals was almost coming alive!

What I am saying is, is it so bad that you have picky tenants? Are they just trying to make a home for themselves? Surely landlords can be safer in the knowledge that they are taking pride in looking after your investment property as if it was their own rather than using and abusing it leaving you a royal mess to deal with before you can find tenants when they vacate.

As a landlord it’s worth being reasonable when it comes to these kind of demands, maybe give in a little at the start, a couple of hundred pounds on a handy man putting a few things right to get off on the right foot could well be a good investment. Let’s be honest it’s your property and furniture you are improving and tenants who complain about things like scuff marks will probably look after their newly painted walls leaving them in a good state of repair for the next tenants. But be firm and set out exactly what needs doing and what they can expect from you with regards to maintenance in the future, taking this approach should avoid to do lists every month or so!

At the end of the day if your tenants are happy in their rental home they will treat your property with care and respect, they are also far more likely to want to extend their contract if they are happy and along with rental payments being made on time that’s all you want as a landlord isn’t it?

We know that you can’t rely on the luck of having caring tenants when it comes to your flat: take a look at our national property check services.

It’s always a situation you hope, as a landlord, you don’t have to deal with – when a tenant leaves early.

Not only do you have the issues of finding another tenant you also have the potential legal issues to deal with surrounding the tenant’s leaving.

First things first: you should have in your tenancy agreement a clause that covers such an occurrence.  This is vital – especially if the tenant’s leaving turns into a legal dispute.

When a tenant puts in a request to terminate and leave early from a fixed term tenancy it is essentially a negotiation between them and the landlord. (The issue is clouded if there is one tenant leaving, leaving others behind and this would be covered by ‘Surrender in Part’ and is a slightly different issue).

A landlord is not obliged to let a tenant break the terms of the tenancy but it’s often common sense to negotiate. You need to calculate any loss of fees you may incur – which in itself may be disputed –  or whether your clause for early termination has an actual penalty value to cover the costs you will have to carry and is one agreed by the tenant when s/he signs the contract.

A leaving tenant may also find the landlord a replacement tenant. Do not at any point say yes to the new tenant without carrying out your usual vetting procedures. They may be a perfectly good tenant but they aren’t taking over the tenancy as theirs will be a fresh contract.

This situation is going to occur so it’s more of a situation of how you handle the transition. By working with the leaving tenant you will part on good terms and avoid any missed rent payments.

It’s always wise to talk since any costs you incur funding a replacement will have to be borne by the leaving tenant (or, if you have a penalty clause, the costs will be covered by that).

When a tenant decides to leave a property is something of a legal grey area.

There is no legislation covering this eventuality and landlords need to set the terms for early termination, notice of termination and how the notice is served. This is purely a contractual matter between landlord and tenant.

This termination date needs to be agreed. You should get a proper ‘Surrender of Tenancy Letter’ which will act as a written document and which will then be proof that the tenant has given up possession of the property to the landlord.

If the tenancy agreement between landlord and tenant does not have a break clause and the landlord refuses to accept the termination notice then the tenant is contractually liable to pay the remaining rent balance for the fixed term tenancy.

This is where the art of negotiation is necessary. If there are seven months remaining on the tenancy then you could both settle on four months rent as a settlement to quit.

For more information and advice about how to deal with one tenant leaving during a tenancy, contact the UK’s premium provider of landlord services NoLettingGo.co.uk or call 0800 8815 366.

No Letting Go are the UK’s leading provider of inventory management services, providing check in and check out services, property inventory and condition reports and specialist on site services to landlords, lettings agents and property professionals.