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Knowing tenancy laws avoids misery

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  • Knowing tenancy laws avoids misery

    Knowing tenancy laws avoids misery
    29 July 2006

    I have heard disturbing stories of tenants bullying landlords, causing unnecessary stress and problems recently.

    Successful property investment is predominantly about the relationships one has with tenants whether it be a landlord-tenant relationship or the property manager-landlord-tenant set-up.

    The best way to maintain this relationship is to know the basic tenancy laws inside and out. So, when first a landlord, I went to Tenancy Services and bought a small handbook which highlighted all the laws and rules.

    Many of the problems highlighted over the past few days could have been avoided if the landlords understood their rights and those of the tenants.

    In one instance I heard of the tenant has been living in the property for about six weeks. The landlord checked out her references, and it appeared that she was a perfect tenant. The woman moved into the house, stating that her bond was being released by her previous landlord. In the six weeks she has been in the property, not only has she not paid the bond, she has also managed to not pay any rent or even have the power changed into her name.

    The property owner has mentioned that she will need to start paying and to clear the debt and that the best place to settle this matter was Tenancy Services. Her reply was: "I will, I will be taking you to Tenancy Services also because I am not happy with you either."

    Most of these issues could have been avoided by doing the following things. Firstly, a landlord should never allow a tenant to have access to a property before the bond has been paid. A landlord can by law ask for four weeks' rent to be paid to Tenancy Services. The average landlord asks for three weeks. Rent should also be paid in advance and remain in advance throughout the tenancy.

    In another situation I heard about, the landlord had contracted work to be done on the back section of a property. An uneven lawn was to be flattened out and new grass sown.

    The tenant objected to the landlord doing work on the outside of the property, even though it was to improve the back yard. He caused nothing but problems; he even threatened to use his martial art skills on the workers and the landlord.

    In this case, the landlord is elderly, doesn't know his rights and doesn't even expect tenants to take advantage of his kind nature.

    He also wasn't aware that under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 the tribunal can terminate the contract if the tenant has assaulted or threatened to assault the landlord, a member of the landlord's family or a neighbour.

    So I can't stress enough the importance of knowing your rights, as a landlord and as a tenant, to avoid unnecessary distress.

    If in doubt, call Tenancy Services on 0800 83 62 62. They will outline your rights and the correct process to rectify any issues. If you ultimately feel that being a landlord isn't your thing, get a good property manager.

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    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx