22 Aug 11 Tips On How To Be A Good Tenant
We often have clients complaining about their landlords and how unreasonably they behave.
They tell us about how their landlords put in unreasonable charges, enforce the terms of their lease in unreasonable ways, and are generally unyielding and difficult.
Often our clients are completely in the right and we work hard to help them remedy the problems, or extract themselves from leases so they can move on.
However, sometimes we have some sympathy for the landlords, or we can see both sides of the story.
We can see how things have got out of hand, and we can see what could have been done differently, which might possibly have reduced the risk of a bad outcome.
We wrote an article previously about how to be a good landlord (because landlord’s do get it wrong sometimes) so here are some suggestions about how to be a good tenant.
- Pay your rent on time. We know that might sound obvious, but most landlords have overheads, specifically mortgages. If your rent is late, then there is a risk that their mortgage payment will be late and that can cause all kinds of problems.
- If you’re going to be late, consider telling your landlord. If they know what’s going on, and you can tell them what your plans are, they may be more accommodating. Telling them you need another week might work better than just saying nothing.
- But don’t be hostile if they refuse to give you more time – they are not obliged to do so, and as we’ve mentioned above, they have financial obligations too.
- If you are in commercial property, your landlord does have the right to send the bailiffs in and may have the right to lock you out if you don’t pay, so sometimes paying something as a sign of good faith on your part may be better than paying nothing.
- Stick to the terms of your lease. Again, it sounds obvious, but this is something you were (or should have been aware of) when you moved in. Make sure you keep a copy readily accessible, with the report on title that your solicitors are likely to have prepared for you, so you have a clear understanding of what your rights and obligations are, and make sure you stick to them. For example, if you need permission to do something, make sure you get that permission. No matter how reasonable you think your request is, you still need to get the sign off from your landlord and if you don’t, be prepared for the consequences. So if your lease says that you need permission to make alterations, make sure you get a license to carry out alterations before you start the work.
- Stick to the terms of your license! If you get a license to do something, such as alterations, make sure you read the license carefully and comply with it. It may, for example, require you at the end of the lease to put the property back in the condition it was in before the works were carried out. Sometimes our clients tell us that they think this is unreasonable because the alterations they have made have enhanced the value of the property and so they should be allowed to leave them in. However, whilst sometimes a landlord will waive their right to make you take the alterations out, they do not have to. They may argue that the problem with the alterations you’ve installed means that the property can only be let to someone who has similar needs and requirements to you, and so limits their ability to re-let the property. They don’t know who the new tenant will be or what their requirements will be, so they may have to take all the works out themselves (at their expense) long after you’re gone. An empty shell is much easier to re-let.
- Keep the noise down. Whilst this does apply to both commercial and residential property, it is probably more relevant to your living than your working environment. There is nothing more frustrating than a noisy neighbor, and if you are a peaceful and respectful tenant, then your landlord will be more likely to support you if you make a complaint about the conduct of others.
- If your lease allows pets, then do what you can to ensure that the animals don’t make any more noise and mess than is necessary. If your lease doesn’t allow pets, and you decide to have animals in the property in breach of your lease, don’t be surprised if you get complaints and if your landlord takes action.
- Clear up after yourself (and any member of your family!). One of the biggest complaints between neighbors are often very petty things such as people not putting the rubbish out, dog mess or leaving bikes and prams in the corridors. There are likely to be things in your lease about what you can and cannot do in the common parts, so make sure you comply as best you can. If there is a residents association, do your best to attend meetings regularly where you can voice any concerns you may have.
- Know when it’s time to leave – commercial property. When your lease or tenancy comes to an end, you may want to stay on. If you are in commercial property, and your lease is protected under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, you have the right to ask for a new lease on commercial terms, and your landlord must agree except in a few very limited circumstances. If you do want a new lease, make sure you take legal advice as early as possible to start the process. If you don’t have 1954 Act protection, you can still ask your landlord for a new lease, but they are under no obligation to agree and if they say no, there is nothing you can do. If you refuse to leave, they can simply change the locks which could have a detrimental effect on your business.
- Know when it’s time to leave – residential property. If you are a lessee, you are likely to occupy the property under a long lease, in which case so long as you comply with the terms of your lease, and get it extended if it gets too short, then the landlord can’t make you leave. However, if you occupy under a tenancy agreement such as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, then when it expires (or if you stop paying your rent) your landlord can serve you notice to move out. If you fail or refuse to do so, they can take you to court and have an order compelling you to go, and if you still don’t go, they can have the bailiffs remove you. Not only can this be a very unpleasant experience, it will mean you will almost certainly lose any deposit you paid. It can also have a detrimental effect on your credit rating and may make it difficult for you to rent property in the future.
If you are having trouble with your landlord and would like advice as to how you could deal with it and improve your position, do feel free to give us a call and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.
Disclaimer – our articles are designed to give you guidance and information. There is no substitute for proper direct advice, particularly as everyone’s circumstances are different. If anything in this article may affect you, please contact us for advice that is specific to your circumstances.