The number of private landlords letting residential properties to tenants on assured and assured shorthold tenancy agreements is increasing year on year. The residential lettings sector has proved a relatively safe haven for property investors as many people choose to rent their home rather than but it. Often Landlords opt for a “do it yourself” approach, using tenancy agreements from stationers and drawing up their own notices, in an effort to keep costs down. However this is a false economy. We regularly come across simple but costly errors that have been made by landlords acting without specialist legal advice.
Our specialist housing law solicitors can provide expert help with the following issues:-
Preparing tenancy agreements and notices.
Landlords and Lettings agent often overlook that these are legal documents governing the landlord and tenant relationship. They are a means of recording the Landlords, Tenants and Letting Agents responsibilities. Great care needs to be taken to ensure these documents does what the landlord wants and are accurate. Failure to do so exposes the Landlord to risks such as the property falling into disrepair, liability to undertake costly works which were to be the tenant’s responsibility or the inability to recover the Property. Our expert Housing Law solicitors produce clear, concise and watertight documents providing landlords and agents with peace of mind, focusing on Assured Shorthold Tenancies in particular.
Advising on the obligations of the landlord and the tenant under a particular tenancy agreement.
Even with written tenancy agreements there may be question marks over who is responsible for what under the terms of the tenancy. For example, who is liable for certain repairs or how to conform to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme regulations. Our specialist housing law solicitors can provide straightforward legal advice on a wide range of obligations, including repairing obligations.
Issuing court proceedings to recover possession on a fixed fee basis.
The general rule is that a landlord can only recover possession of a property with a court order and, if the tenant will not leave, using a court bailiff. Any landlord who attempts to evict a tenant without a court order will be committing a criminal offence. Obtaining a court order need not be expensive and time consuming, provided it is done correctly. The majority of private sector residential tenancies are assured shorthold tenancies. In most cases they allow a landlord to recover possession of their property by giving the correct notice requiring possession (know as a section 21 notice); without having to prove there is a reason for doing so. We can draw up the court papers and obtain a possession order for assured shorthold tenancies for a fixed fee. For other types of claims, such as non-payment of rent or disrepair, a fixed fee is not appropriate but we offer a bespoke service at competitive rates.
Advising on tenancy status.
Landlord’s obligations and tenant’s rights under a tenancy agreement often depend on the type of tenancy. The most common in the private sectors are assured shorthold tenancies, assured tenancies and Rent Act protected tenancies. Each one imposes different obligations on landlords and, more importantly, make it more difficult for a landlord to recover possession. Landlords must beware that a tenancy does not have to be written down in an agreement. They can be created simply by a tenant moving in and a landlord accepting rent. Any landlord who does not have a written tenancy agreement should seek specialist legal advice as to the type of tenancy they have straightaway. Otherwise a landlord may be in breach of his obligations without knowing. Ascertaining types of tenancies has generated huge amounts of case law and is a legal minefield. We can provide expert legal advice on the status of all types of residential tenancies.
Defending claims for disrepair and unlawful eviction.
We can provide advice and representation at court for landlords faced with claims for disrepair and unlawful eviction.
Advising on procedures for rent increases.
The law sets down detailed procedures that must be followed before a landlord can increase the rent of a residential property, which can ultimately be decided by a rent assessment committee or tribunal. The procedures to be used are dependant upon the type of tenancy in question and expert legal advice will be needed to answer this question. We can advise on the correct mechanism for increasing rent, draw up the necessary notices and handling proceedings that appear before a rent assessment committee or tribunal.