As a landlord in the PRS you’ll understand more than anyone the growing need for rented accommodation for the younger generation, namely students. CEO of the flat sharing website ‘Weroom’ has recently stated that ‘deposit disputes are becoming an inevitable part of the rental experience’, especially for students and young renters. Unsurprising new research has also revealed that property maintenance and damages are the most common causes for disputes between landlords and their student tenants. Weroom.com also found that out of the 330 – 18 to 24 year olds that they surveyed:
- only 40% were aware of their rights as tenants,
- 40% experienced cleaning related property disputes,
- 33% admitted that they had ‘given in’ to landlords and agencies to avoid confrontation.
Do you house young tenants?
With so many students and budding renters looking for their next home in the PRS, it is critical that you make them aware of their rights from the start. Student housing can be a very lucrative market, what with university life becoming more of a once in a lifetime opportunity in the UK than ever before. Not forgetting the increasing amount of young families out there looking for their next home in the PRS too. As a landlord your main objective is to keep your tenants happy, meaning that they will stay for as long as possible with you.
By law you must:
- Provide your tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), an annual Gas Safety Certificate and a copy of the government’s new ‘How to Rent’ guide at the start of their tenancy. If you fail to then you (or your agent) will be unable to evict them further down the line. You should also provide them with a copy of their tenancy agreement, to include: the date it began, the amount of rent due, when it’s to be paid, how and when the rent can be changed and the length of any fixed term.
- Any deposits that have been paid to you on or after April 2007 must be protected in one of the 3 government-approved deposit protection schemes; Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS), MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). If a court finds that you’ve failed to adequately protect their deposit, then you will be ordered to repay it directly to your tenant or pay it into an official TDP scheme’s bank account within 14 days. The court can also decide whether they order you to pay you up to 3 times the deposit amount!
- You, or agents acting on your behalf, must now install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in all relevant rooms of your buy-to-let properties. They must be fully functioning at the start of the tenancy, but it remains your tenant’s responsibility to test and maintain each alarm throughout the tenancy period, e.g. changing the batteries.
- You must provide each tenant with a name and an address in England or Wales that they can write to you.
- Unless it is a valid emergency, you or your letting agent must give your tenant at least 24 hours’ notice (in writing) before you have the right to enter their home.
- As a landlord you have a duty of care to maintain the property; keeping your tenants happy and free from any danger. Other than very minor requests (changing fuses, light bulbs, etc), you are responsible for the majority of the repairs. So make sure that you encourage your tenants to report any issues to you as soon as they arise; so as to minimise any potential damage.
- You must serve the correct notices (e.g. Section 21) and obtain a possession order from the court to legally evict your tenants from the property.
- You must make sure that there are working smoke alarms on every floor of your property in communal areas.
Deposit disputes should not be an ‘inevitable part’ of the rental experience in this day and age, we hope you agree? At Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that the 3 key elements to unlocking and improving the private rented sector right across the UK are: knowledge, professionalism and communication between landlords, agents and their tenants – especially younger tenants. This is why a simple inventory is a vital step in order to properly protect your investment – and that’s why we’d love to hear from you today: