Most landlords have rules that they expect their tenants to adhere to, especially if you are a live-in landlord who doesn’t want their daily life disrupted by an inconsiderate new roommate. However in an article published by the Daily Mail yesterday a woman revealed a list of thirty one rules that the landlord had given her – and she hadn’t even agreed to move in!
The live-in landlord provided the list to the young woman when she came to view the property, and she was surprised at how extreme some of the rules were. For instance, one rule said “No visitors can stay over (Unless discussed with me 2 weeks in advance and I will decide) if I catch anyone sneaking in deposit will be lost and you will need to vacate premises immediately.” Other rules included fines for leaving dishes unwashed in the sink, and that if the landlord decides the tenant is abusing heating or electricity he can charge them “as I feel.”
After receiving the bizarre list, Laura Evelyn posted a picture of it on the social media website Twitter, which then went viral with over one thousand retweets and four thousand comments on Reddit. She said to the Daily Mail that the landlord “Seemed intelligent and friendly. He only gave me the list as I was leaving. It made for amusing Tube reading.”
Many users of the Reddit website have commented on the story and said that they have had similar experiences, with one even saying that “I once had a roommate that had all these rules and more (i.e.: no dirty dishes in the dishwasher; that appliance is only to be used as a built-in drying rack for hand-washed dishes) but she failed to communicate them to me in advance. Rather she left a trail of post-it notes around the house.”
Whilst live-in landlords may have certain rules they expect tenants to adhere to, giving them a list usually strains relations before they even move in. It is probably wiser to have your stipulations entered into your tenancy agreement so if there are any disputes you can contact your landlord insurance provider and get them to advise you on legal proceedings.
The owner of a lettings company that specialises in finding tenancies for pensioners has pleaded with private landlords not to turn their backs on tenants who are on benefit. Peter Girling feels it is wrong to stigmatise those who are on benefits for various reasons.
The latest research from the NHF (National Housing Federation) shows there has been a massive 484,000 rise in the number of social housing tenants during the past three years. This huge increase has coincided with the number of private landlords with buy-to-let insurance not willing to take in tenants receiving housing benefit. Both the NLA (National Landlords Association) and the RLA (Residential Landlords Association) have confirmed that many landlords have either plans to withdraw from the Local Housing Allowance market or have already done so.
Letting agent and landlord, Aki Ellahi, wrote an open letter to landlords in the Guardian newspaper where he spoke of the appalling stigma and stereotyping amongst UK landlords with regards to accepting tenants on benefits.
Peter Girling said: “I wholeheartedly agree with Aki Ellahi, over 70% of our tenants who are aged over 55 receive some form of entitlements including housing benefit. Many of these people have paid into the system over their working lives and now need some support in their retirement, as do a number of home owners who may be entitled to social and housing support. Whilst I understand their commercial concerns, my view is that landlords are being short-sighted in their knee-jerk reactions.”
There are many benefits to the landlord from letting property to a tenant on benefits. Whilst undoubtedly there are some unscrupulous people who will abuse the system, it is wrong to stereotype everyone in this category. Mr Girling is urging landlords to reconsider their attitude towards tenants on benefits and not to just automatically turn their backs on them because of the new coalition policies.
The onus of responsibility that falls on a landlord’s head was demonstrated at Westminster Magistrates Court earlier this week when a landlord received a suspended jail sentence because of his ignorance over his legal responsibilities.
For anyone entering the letting industry and thinking there is little more to the profession than buying a property, organising landlord insurance and then finding a tenant, the experience of Stephen Clayden, Gail Calvert and her daughter should act as a stern reminder that things are not that simple. The couple who lived in a ground floor flat in Catford suffered from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning after their landlord failed to properly maintain a gas boiler in their home. The couple and child had to stay in hospital overnight but things would have been a lot more serious if hadn’t been for the fact that people in the flat above them had a carbon monoxide alarm.
In fact the faulty gas boiler led to the whole block of flats being evacuated and Southern Gas Network had to disconnect the supply to the building. Finding the landlord guilty of neglecting his legal duty of care to maintain the appliance and ensure it had an annual check with a Gas Safe registered engineer, the court gave the landlord a fine of over £8,000, 200 hours community service and a suspended two year prison sentence.
Kevin Shorten, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, said “As a landlord, he is legally responsible for the safety of his tenants in relation to gas checks, and in failing to properly maintain the boiler he placed them, and others, in grave danger. I hope today’s prosecution sends a clear message to all landlords that they mustn’t shirk or ignore their responsibilities because the consequences can be devastating.”
It is a sad fact that around 20 people lose their life each year in the UK because of carbon monoxide poisoning down to faulty fitting of gas appliances, and residential landlords should always ensure they abide with all health and safety requirements as a priority.
A major regional letting agent in Yorkshire has said that letting demand throughout the county is now at a record high, with at least ten prospective tenants showing interest for every single property that becomes available to rent.
Yorkshire Agents, Linley & Simpson’s research shows that in the past month, the gap between available stock and people wanting to rent has got bigger, leaving many tenants unable to find somewhere to live. The agency says that private landlords have been able to take their pick of tenants, generally choosing professionals in employment, with an exemplary rental history and the ability to move in quickly. The sharp upturn in tenant applications is being expressed across all of Linley & Simpsons nine Yorkshire offices, but is more prominent in Leeds, York, Harrogate and Wakefield. The firms Roundhay office is one of three they have in Leeds and it has reported a 71% increase in tenants actively looking for property compared to September 2011.
Director Will Linley said: “The dearth of properties reinforces what we predicted last year and, unless the Government introduces incentives or banks free up money for investors to breathe life back into the buy-to-let market, supply will continue to lag behind growing demand. Unless stock levels start to increase, more and more tenants will find it difficult to find a property and monthly rents will rise. At any one time we have more than 400 available properties on our database that links all our offices – but more than ten times that number of people registered. It is a situation that is not common just to us – it is one that is reflected across the sector as a whole.”
The value of good property insurance is still a big factor for the majority of residential landlords as the survey found that almost three-quarters (73%) of private landlords say their rental properties are returned to them in either an average or poor condition after the tenants move out. While only 5% state that property is a complete wreck, four out of ten said they have had, on at least one occasion, a rental property returned to them in such a bad condition that it has needed a full refurbishment. Only a quarter of respondents said their properties are normally vacated in a good condition.
Members of the Scottish Parliament are being urged to back a register of blacklisted tenants in an effort to crack down on the increasing number of rent dodgers who set up in properties and then refuse to leave.
Gerry Mclellan is a disgruntled landlord who takes pride in looking after his properties and protecting them with landlord insurance. He has now lodged a petition calling for action and he is backed by the country’s national organisation for landlords who feel the problem also affects people living in neighbouring properties. Gerry is now calling for clear guidelines to be put in place to ensure speedier convictions along with a national database of previously blacklisted tenants. He believes the government must strengthen the legal means to evict bad tenants and ensure landlords can recover any money owed and not be out of pocket by, in some cases, thousands of pounds.
Gerry McLellan said: “Too many people are now suffering due to lazy louts who truly believe they are entitled to move into other peoples’ properties, trash them, stay as long as they want and refuse to pay any money. Landlords are now required to register. Tenants should be afforded the same courtesy.”
The appeal for action has the support of the SAL (Scottish Association of Landlords) who are aware that a large number of tenants have overstayed their welcome by a considerable period of time. They also pointed out that it has become a lot more difficult for landlords to properly check out their tenants, and they just do not know who they are allowing to live in their properties. Professional landlords now believe a system involving a tenants’ register, where previous landlords have vouched for them as good tenants would be a step in the right direction. A Scottish Government spokeswoman said its strategy for the private rented sector will be published before Christmas.
A residential landlord in a Somerset town has set up his own landlord referencing network scheme after suffering a horrendous attack by one of his tenants.
Paul Routledge, who has operated his landlord business in the town of Weston-super-Mare for many years, has recently launched LandlordReferencing.co.uk. The company is targeted at landlords and letting agents and will give them a comprehensive overview of prospective tenants including information on any previous rental arrears they may have incurred or if they have caused damage at a previous tenancy. The tenant referencing idea came to Paul after he suffered at the hands of a previous tenant.
Paul related his traumatic encounter to cable TV explaining: “I had a call that there was a problem at one of my flats. When I turned up the front door was open, so I walked in calling ‘is anybody there?’ I got to the front room and found two guys sat down and another, my tenant, stood by the sink. It was obvious a drug deal was going on so I told them to get out, at which point my tenant jumped over and started stabbing me in the head. A fight ensued and he ended up leaving me for dead on the staircase.”
After recovering from the attack Paul realised there was very little protection in place for landlords who suffered from violent and destructive tenants and decided to go ahead with the tenant referencing network scheme. There is no doubt that stopping a nightmare tenant before he his ensconced in one of your properties is very much preferable to having to take action about getting one removed. Landlord insurance will certainly help protect your property and combined with signing up to a network that forewarns about possible troublesome tenants, both will give landlords that extra peace of mind they all look for.
The ever changing weather patterns are leading to problems for property owners in the United Kingdom. One of these is the increased likelihood of ground movements and the consequent damage to property. Because of this landlords are being urged to review their landlord insurance policy to ensure they have adequate cover for subsidence, heave and landslip.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors estimates that there are around 31,000 insurance claims each year for subsidence which costs the industry more than £150 million. Private landlords with properties built on soil with clay near to the surface or with shallow foundations are most vulnerable because it is these types of foundations that are most susceptible to the nuances of the UK weather systems. A landlord with many properties in their portfolio will also be at risk as they may not notice the tell-tale signs of ground movement until the situation has become serious. If a property suffers from subsidence, heave or landslip a landlord may have trouble obtaining comprehensive landlord insurance.
Insurance specialist Dee Pemberton said: “There are three main types of ground movement. Subsidence is almost always caused by shrinkage of clay soils, whereas ‘heave’ is the upward movement of the ground supporting the property, caused by the expansion of previously dry clay soils. Landslip is the slow slippage of land in a downhill direction. All three of these types of ground movement can result in serious damage or in the worst case scenario the total loss of a property.”
The most common cause of subsidence is a drying of the soil on which the property is built. This is often exacerbated by trees that surround the home which suck the moisture from the soil and cause it to shrink. Climate changes and the impact on the UK’s weather patterns present property owners with a number of challenges. Damage can be repaired, limited or prevented by removal or pruning of trees, repairing damaged drains, repairs to brickwork and strengthening or deepening of the building foundations.
A landlord in Blackpool, Lancashire is still trying to come to terms with the damage caused by tenants who vacated one of his properties earlier this month.
Karim Haji is a well-known landlord in the Fylde area and owns a number of properties in the region. He has never though, encountered the scenes he discovered at a property recently vacated by tenants in Caunce Street, Blackpool. The tenants had left a trail of destruction in the three bedroomed home that Mr Haji estimates will take £12,000 to put right. The property had been renovated just 12 months earlier but the damage caused to the property, some of which was caused by the tenant’s pets, has rendered the place uninhabitable.
Carpets had been ripped from the floor and had been heavily soiled by the animals, paper ripped off the walls and soft furnishings completely destroyed. They left dirty clothing and unwashed pots and pans strewn around the home and Mr Haji said there was clear evidence that drug use had taken place on the properties. Mr Haji, who has already reported the matter to the police was still fuming as he spoke to the press, saying “These people are worse than animals, their dogs had soiled the place and they were living among it. I was absolutely sickened when I opened the door; the smell was bad enough to knock me back before I even saw the state of it. I want tax payers in Blackpool to see how their money is being used because these were DSS tenants. I am going to be left seriously out of pocket, the dogs have damaged the walls, chewed the units and ruined furniture. They have absolutely no respect for anybody else’s property, It will cost me around £12,000 to put right again.”
Unfortunately Mr Haji may have to fund a lot of the repairs himself as the landlord insurance policy he owned did not cover him for damage caused by animals and pets, and he urged fellow landlords to check not only the tenants that they let a property out to, but the property insurance they take out on the property.
A controversial plan by a London council involving landlords has brought sharp criticism from many in the rents sector.
The decision by councillors in Newham, London to go ahead with their plan to license all private landlords in the borough has caused uproar with property investors with an interest in landlord insurance. They claim that up to 35,000 homes will be affected and that the council are “using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut”. David Salusbury, chief executive of the National Landlords Association (NLA), said “It is deeply disappointing that the London Borough of Newham has taken the decision to license all landlords in its area. The NLA realises that there are significant issues present in Newham, which the council is right to want to address, but selective licensing of landlords is designed to address distinct problems relating to housing management by targeting specific areas. Newham’s blanket approach goes beyond the intention of the legislation and has not gained the support of local landlords.”
It is thought some landlords could be fined up to £20,000 if they don’t register with the scheme but Newham Council, who completed a 10 week consultation period before deciding to press ahead were sure their policy will pay dividends. A spokesman previously said: “We want to ensure that private sector rented properties are well managed and meet a good standard. We also want to deal with the crime and anti-social behaviour that is sometimes associated with bad private sector rented housing. There are good landlords in Newham and we want to work with them. Unfortunately there are also some unscrupulous ones – which these proposals would target. We will never accept private sector tenants being directly exploited by landlords who force them to live in dangerous and unacceptable conditions.”
The NLA now fear that other councils will instigate blanket coverage that will have a negative effect on the sector.
An Ayrshire landlord has been left with an unwanted bill after her tenant stole the cooker, boiler, fridge-freezer and washing machine when they were evicted. The tenant also smashed up the microwave and ripped out a log effect fire.
The man never even paid a penny in rent to Loretta Wight, despite living in her Ayr flat for four months. He showed her the letter from the housing benefit office confirming they had his claim but when a cheque was sent to the tenant he did not pass it on to Loretta. When the landlord got suspicious she approached the housing benefits department, who informed her that they had started payments but could not transfer the rent to her without the written consent of the tenant. The entire ordeal has left Mrs Wight more than £4000 out of pocket and it’s unknown if she’ll ever see a penny of it back. Property investors with a landlord insurance quote are usually shielded from such situations and most landlords take out an appropriate policy.
Loretta Wight said: “That flat was my holiday home and I was forced to rent it out when I had to leave my job for health reasons. I relied on the rent to feed myself and pay bills and other than a deposit at the start I never received any money at all. The deposit is nowhere near enough to cover what I lost. On top of taking all the electrical equipment the condition of the flat was a disgrace. Dirty marks on the wall, carpets wasted with cigarette burns and dirt, two sofas from a three piece suite had to be flung out because they were ruined. We had to repaint and replace the curtains and blinds because they were damaged.”
Loretta contacted her tenant over one-hundred times by phone, letter and visits to try and find a resolution. But she was left with no other option when three months passed without any sign of the rent being paid. Loretta blames the system for making it easy for dodgy tenants to scam a landlord. Police are investigating the theft and damage and they are trying to track down Loretta’s old tenant who they suspect may be doing the same to another landlord.