While a properly drafted lease agreement is critical for avoiding and resolving disputes between landlords and tenants, there are also certain measures you can take to minimise the risk of disputes, including adhering to statutory requirements.

Tenancy deposit scheme

For all shorthold residential tenancies starting after April 2007, landlords must put deposits into a government-backed tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme within 30 days of receiving it. This ensures that tenants’ deposits are returned to them within 10 days of the end of the lease once they have upheld all their contractual obligations.

Landlords must then provide tenants with the details and contact information of the TDP scheme they’ve used, and inform them of the scheme’s free dispute resolution service. Tenants must also be advised as to how they can reclaim their deposit and of the steps to be taken in the event of a dispute over the deposit. Adhering to these measures reduces the risk of disputes while providing mechanisms for resolving disputes where necessary.

References and credit checks

To pre-empt any possible disputes, landlords should conduct proper credit checks on prospective tenants to verify that they are financially able to uphold the obligations of the lease. To check credit, a landlord may either request the tenant’s bank statements from the last three months or ask for an employer reference. Landlords should also get in touch with previous landlords to check whether there were any disputes or issues with the tenant, such as late rent payment for example.

Inventories

Landlords should always prepare a detailed inventory before the tenant moves in, specifying the state and condition of everything in the property. The overall cleanliness of the property should also be noted. To prevent disputes later on, it is recommended that the incoming tenant be present while inventory is being done.

A signed and dated copy of the inventory must then be given to the tenant with the lease agreement. If the landlord removes any items from the property during the tenant’s occupancy, this should be noted on the inventory and signed for by the tenant to avoid disputes at the end of the lease.

Regular on-notice inspections

To lower the risk of disputes over damages or poorly maintained properties, it’s advisable that on-notice inspections be carried out regularly by landlords. Tenants should be given at least 24 hours notice before the inspection, and landlords must give a reason for the inspection beforehand.

Prompt repairs

Depending on the terms of the lease agreement, landlords or tenants should carry out any necessary repairs as soon as possible. The provisions on maintenance and repairs should clearly specify which party is responsible for handling repairs, as well as the timeframe in which they must be done. To avoid related disputes, the responsible party should complete the required repairs as soon as possible.

Procedures for eviction

Once the landlord has upheld all statutory and contractual requirements of the lease, he is fully within his right to serve a Section 8 Notice to Quit if the tenant breaches any terms of the lease agreement. The Section 8 Notice must be served to the tenant before the landlord can evict or apply to the court for a possession order. This notice states that the landlord wishes to possess the property and informs the tenant of the grounds on which the notice has been served.

For assured shorthold tenancy agreements, a Section 21 Notice of Possession may be served if the landlord wants the tenant to vacate the property during or at the end of the tenancy; no reason is necessary.

There are various conditions to be met and stringent requirements to be followed when serving either of the foregoing notices in order for them to be valid. Failing to comply with the mandatory procedures could give rise to a dispute, so a solicitor’s guidance is crucial in situations requiring either type of notice.

For more expert legal advice on commercial property law, specifically with respect to landlord and tenant dispute resolution, contact us at The London Law Practice for your free initial consultation.

 

 

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