By treating tenants well they are more likely to respect you and treat the property with care. They are also more likely to want to stay at the property which reduces the risk of you having an empty property and losing income.
Taking care of the property
Maintaining your property not only benefits current tenants, but can also help attract new tenants if you need to let out the property again in future.
You can make sure your property is kept in good condition by:
- carrying out repairs within a reasonable timeframe, including fittings and items which make the property desirable to live in foster happy tenants.
- buying quality furniture that will last in the long run (if providing furniture in a property)
- updating the property throughout the tenancy instead of waiting until after a tenant leaves
Make sure to carry out repairs as quickly as possible when any maintenance work is needed.
Remember you will still have the property long after the tenant has moved on so you need to ensure it is taken care of. Delays that seem unnecessary, as well as recurring plumbing or electrical issues, can be frustrating for tenants and cause distrust.
Choose a firm that you trust and brief them to give notice to the tenant for gaining access to carry out repair work. Never give a key to the contractor allowing them to let themselves in, unless this is agreed with the tenant for each separate maintenance issue.
You could consider creating a maintenance schedule to follow throughout a tenancy.
It’s important to be consistently courteous and professional in all dealings with your tenant – even if they don't behave the same way.
Your tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment of the property, so make sure you only visit when necessary (such as for repairs or maintenance). Remember, if you plan to enter the property you are required to give reasonable notice to your tenant before doing so – usually 24 hours. Insufficient notice or visits that are too frequent could cause tenants to feel harassed.
Respect your tenants’ time and don’t expect them to wait in during the day for tradespeople.
When setting the rent amount consider the rent being charged for similar properties in the area (the market rent). An increase in rent must be fair and realistic.
For any type of tenancy agreement you must also get the tenant’s permission if you want to increase the rent by more than previously agreed.
Fixed term tenancies
If the tenancy agreement runs for a set period of six months or more (fixed-term), the agreement should say that rent will either be:
- fixed for the length of the term
- reviewed at regular intervals - and include information on how it will be reviewed
If the agreement is a yearly tenancy, you must give the tenant six months’ notice.
You can only increase the rent of a fixed-term tenancy during the fixed term if the tenant agrees. If they do not agree, it can only be increased when the fixed term ends.
If the tenancy is a periodic tenancy (rolling on a weekly or monthly basis) the agreement should say how often the rent will be reviewed. You must give the tenant a minimum of one month’s notice for a rent increase if they pay the rent weekly or monthly.
Both you and the tenant can agree a rent increase for a periodic tenancy at any time and the increase should be confirmed in writing.
You should include a clause in the agreement that allows a yearly increase in rent. You cannot normally increase the rent more than once a year without the tenant agreeing to it.
Resolving rent issues
Issues with rent should be addressed as soon as possible. Your agreement should provide for rent to be paid regularly on a particular day of the week, month or year.
If a payment is missed, notify the tenant straightaway and ask them for the money. If there are serious rent arrears, then the law enables you to get your property back, provided you follow correct procedures.
Keep accurate records
Keep a detailed account of any legal or financial transactions with your tenant, as well as formal and informal correspondence. It's important to have a paper trail of any maintenance issues you've dealt with, as well as warnings or requests you've issued, so that you can refer to them if needed in future.
Keep copies of all emails or letters to and from your tenant, and write down the dates and details of any telephone conversations you have.
Continuing a tenancy
If you and a tenant are happy you might both agree to continue their tenancy. Depending on type of agreement the tenancy could continue without you having to do anything, in other cases you may decide on a replacement agreement.
A periodic tenancy will continue until either you or the tenant brings it to an end.
A fixed-term assured tenancy (non-shorthold) will continue after its expiry date, and you can only bring it to an end on certain grounds.
Most tenancies in the private rented sector start as fixed-term assured shorthold tenancies.
When the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy ends you have the following options if you want the tenancy to continue:
- agree a replacement fixed-term shorthold tenancy with the tenant
- agree to a replacement assured shorthold tenancy on a periodic basis, called a contractual periodic tenancy
- do nothing and allow the assured shorthold tenancy to run on with the same terms, under a statutory periodic tenancy