Are you protecting young tenants?

7K0A0438

As a landlord in the PRS you’ll understand more than anyone the growing need for rented accommodation for the younger generation, namely students. CEO of the flat sharing website ‘Weroom’ has recently stated that ‘deposit disputes are becoming an inevitable part of the rental experience’, especially for students and young renters. Unsurprising new research has also revealed that property maintenance and damages are the most common causes for disputes between landlords and their student tenants. Weroom.com also found that out of the 330 – 18 to 24 year olds that they surveyed:

  • only 40% were aware of their rights as tenants,
  • 40% experienced cleaning related property disputes,
  • 33% admitted that they had ‘given in’ to landlords and agencies to avoid confrontation.

Do you house young tenants?

With so many students and budding renters looking for their next home in the PRS, it is critical that you make them aware of their rights from the start. Student housing can be a very lucrative market, what with university life becoming more of a once in a lifetime opportunity in the UK than ever before. Not forgetting the increasing amount of young families out there looking for their next home in the PRS too. As a landlord your main objective is to keep your tenants happy, meaning that they will stay for as long as possible with you.

By law you must:

  • Provide your tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), an annual Gas Safety Certificate and a copy of the government’s new ‘How to Rent’ guide at the start of their tenancy. If you fail to then you (or your agent) will be unable to evict them further down the line. You should also provide them with a copy of their tenancy agreement, to include: the date it began, the amount of rent due, when it’s to be paid, how and when the rent can be changed and the length of any fixed term.
  • Any deposits that have been paid to you on or after April 2007 must be protected in one of the 3 government-approved deposit protection schemes; Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS), MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). If a court finds that you’ve failed to adequately protect their deposit, then you will be ordered to repay it directly to your tenant or pay it into an official TDP scheme’s bank account within 14 days. The court can also decide whether they order you to pay you up to 3 times the deposit amount!
  • You, or agents acting on your behalf, must now install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in all relevant rooms of your buy-to-let properties. They must be fully functioning at the start of the tenancy, but it remains your tenant’s responsibility to test and maintain each alarm throughout the tenancy period, e.g. changing the batteries.
  • You must provide each tenant with a name and an address in England or Wales that they can write to you.
  • Unless it is a valid emergency, you or your letting agent must give your tenant at least 24 hours’ notice (in writing) before you have the right to enter their home.
  • As a landlord you have a duty of care to maintain the property; keeping your tenants happy and free from any danger. Other than very minor requests (changing fuses, light bulbs, etc), you are responsible for the majority of the repairs. So make sure that you encourage your tenants to report any issues to you as soon as they arise; so as to minimise any potential damage.
  • You must serve the correct notices (e.g. Section 21) and obtain a possession order from the court to legally evict your tenants from the property.

 

  • You must make sure that there are working smoke alarms on every floor of your property in communal areas.

Deposit disputes should not be an ‘inevitable part’ of the rental experience in this day and age, we hope you agree? At Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that the 3 key elements to unlocking and improving the private rented sector right across the UK are: knowledge, professionalism and communication between landlords, agents and their tenants – especially younger tenants. This is why a simple inventory is a vital step in order to properly protect your investment – and that’s why we’d love to hear from you today:

Tel: 020 3713 4933 / Email: info@yellowoak.co.uk / Contact Form.

Will longer tenancies cause more tenant disputes? ​​

Will Longer TenanciesAs we edge closer to a General Election there are many interesting (as well as controversial) housing ideas being thrown around, as the UK’s political parties try to attract the attention of the ever-increasing amount of generation renters.

In particular, the Labour Party have claimed that they will provide “a better deal for renters” by introducing standard three-year tenancies, if they were to get into power on May 7th.

With over eight million households in the UK now renting from a private landlord, this proposal aims to give tenants greater protection against rogue landlords within the sector; primarily protecting against retaliatory eviction and giving families “security and peace of mind” by preventing the uprooting of children from their school and their friends.

However, research from The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) shows us that less than 20% of tenants actually rent a home for more than five years, and over a third of tenants stay in rented accommodation for less than a year.

At Yellow Oak Inventories we completely understand the need for tenants to feel secure in their home, and that longer tenancies could benefit many PRS landlords. However we do worry that longer tenancies will mean more tenant deposit disputes. As it stands to reason that the longer a tenant resides within a property, the more likely it is that the property will be subjected to damages and more complex wear and tear issues.
Even more worryingly, it could deter new landlords from entering the buy to let market altogether.

So if standard three year tenancies were introduced, the need for a thorough independent inventory and mid-term inspections would increase dramatically; in order to avoid unnecessary stress and costs further down the line.

Wear – What is the definition of wear and tear? Click for full information.

This could also become a major issue, what with the tax concession allowing landlords of unfurnished properties to claim for the replacement of white goods, carpets and curtains being withdrawn by HMRC, back in April 2013.

Other than finding an independent, impartial and professional inventory provider, here are some other key points that will help prevent damage and excessive wear and tear in your property:

  • Take a deposit
  • Keep the properties maintenance and decoration up-to-date
    g. expect to re-paint walls and ceilings every 3-5 years.
  • Regular inspections
  • For furnished rentals expect to renew items approximately every 3 years
    g. furniture, kitchen wear, etc.
  • Certain items should be treated as ‘expendable’ if they are missing or damaged at the end of a long tenancy
    g. mattress protectors, kitchen utensils, toilet brushes, etc.

How do you feel about standard three year tenancies?

Were you aware of the tax concession for unfurnished properties being removed?

Whatever your views are on these issues pleases share them with us!