What are the common disputes between a landlord and a tenant?

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Keeping a positive relationship between a landlord and tenant can sometimes be challenging. In the majority of cases, a good relationship is forged between landowner and tenant. However, sometimes things can go awry, which may lead to a difference of opinion on each party’s rights and obligations. The two most common reasons for disputes between a landlord and a tenant are non-payment of rent and holdovers. Other issues that could potentially prove to be a bone of contention between a landlord and a tenant are maintenance of the property, property cleanliness, damage to the property, property subletting, council tax, pets in the property, insurance cover, causing a nuisance, notices to the tenant. 

Late rent payment

Non-payment of rent is one of the primary reasons that lead to a dispute between landlord and tenant. Usually, there is an agreement between a landlord and a tenant for rent payment; the landlord expects the tenant to pay rent on time stated in the lease agreement. However, if a tenant fails to make the rent payment several times, the landlord can start eviction proceedings to scare the tenant into paying his outstanding rent. Sometimes a tenant may come up with a whole or part of the rent, and the landlord may drop the case.

However, if the tenant doesn’t pay rent for several months and doesn’t comply with eviction proceedings, a dispute arises among both.

Holdover

A Holdover happens when a lease or other occupancy agreement expires and the tenant is not voluntarily vacating the premises. Additionally, it could also be termed as a holdover when a tenant pays month-to-month rent without an existing lease agreement in place.

If the agreement has expired and a tenant pays month-to-month rent, they may feel that they have the same rights as they previously had under the lease agreement. But in reality, they don’t have the same rights.

Due to the lack of legal protection and notice, an amicable landlord-tenant relationship can sour. The tenant may stop paying rent, causing the landlord to initiate special eviction procedures related to a Holdover. This bad relationship can also be risky for the landlord as the tenant can maliciously damage property before leaving the premises.

The maintenance of the property

It is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure their property is maintained correctly and is therefore safe for a tenant to reside in. The property must have proper heating and hot water and be in good condition in terms of its structure, facilities and pipework. A landlord is liable to pay a fine for renting out uninhabitable property. The dispute between a landlord and tenant rises when a landlord leases their uninhabitable property to a tenant.

Property Cleanliness

Lease agreements usually mention a clause that explains, it is the tenant’s responsibility to keep the property clean and tidy. Landlords will often take photographs of the premises in their original condition to ensure that the tenants leave them in the same condition at the time of vacation. If the tenant leaves the property in an unacceptable condition, the landlord has the right to withhold some, or all, of the original tenancy deposit and use it for repairs and cleaning services. 

Damage to the property

A tenant must ask for the landlord’s permission before committing any renovation. It is solely the landlord’s decision as to whether these renovations will be allowed in the property or not. If a tenant makes changes to the property without proper permission (which could be as small as putting up a shelf, or hanging a picture) and causes any damage to the property, they may be liable to pay for the repair for the damage. Any damage to the property that is the fault of the tenant or the fault of reckless and irresponsible behaviour on the tenant’s part will also be the tenant’s responsibility to get fixed.

Council tax

If you are leasing your property to either one tenant, joint tenants with one single lease agreement, or a family, then they are liable to pay the council tax. However, if you are leasing your property to multiple tenants with multiple tenancy agreements like HMOs or students, it is the landlord’s responsibility to pay the tax.

Subletting

Generally, a tenant is not permitted to sublet the property to anyone else. A tenant may be hoping to make a profit by subletting the property. However, the landlord has the right to take legal action against the tenant if he/she breaches this clause in the contract.  That often introduces the question “how long can a guest stay?”.  The answer is subjective but obvious.  If your family is visiting from abroad and stays for 2 weeks, they’re clearly guests.  If your boyfriend moves in for 3 months because he works nearby, that’s clearly subletting.

Pets in the property

With over 51 million pets in the UK, it is not surprising that a growing number of tenants are taking their pets into newly rented accommodations with them. However, it is the landlord’s right to decide whether they will allow animals on their property or not. This is explicitly stated in the agreement that the tenant must abide by these terms. The tenant will breach the contract if he/she does not follow the terms. If a tenant requires a service animal (such as a guide dog), they will need to outline this in their contract.

 

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