Unfortunately, relations between landlords and tenants are not always harmonious. Sometimes this is down to one or other party acting unreasonably, and sometimes it’s down to people not having a clear understanding of their rights or obligations.
The best way to avoid disputes, either during or after the tenancy, is to have clearly written lease agreements and for tenants to take the time to make sure they know exactly what they are signing. A lease isn’t just a standard document – it is a legally binding agreement that commits both parties to specific obligations.
If a problem occurs it’s best to react quickly and calmly to prevent issues escalating, which could just lead to more cost and more aggravation. It also helps to be aware of the most common causes of disputes and take appropriate safeguards.
Weston super Mare has a high proportion of rental properties so we at PowellsLaw have seen pretty much every flavour of Landlord and Tenant dispute.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Maintenance and cleaning are the most common issues. Tenants have a legal right to live in a property that is safe and fit for habitation. Landlords also have a responsibility to ensure the property is well maintained. What this means in practice can be open to different interpretations by landlords and tenants unless expectations are clearly expressed.
Rent arrears are naturally a common cause of disputes. While there’s nothing unclear or confusing about the obligation to pay the rent on time, rent arrears issues sometimes arise from maintenance disputes. Tenants cannot simply withhold rent because repairs haven’t been completed. Under some circumstances, and ONLY if the right procedures are followed, it may be possible to pay for repairs yourself and withhold the cost from your rent. It’s better to find an amicable solution if possible, as not paying the rent is a serious breach of the contract.
The condition of the property can be a cause of disputes at the end of the lease. It’s wise for both parties to take photographs showing the original condition of the property. If you are a new tenant it is always a good idea to report issues such as damage or stained carpets to the landlord or letting agent immediately, together with photographs. Your landlord may decide to do nothing about them, but you will have evidence on record that you weren’t responsible.
If a landlord withholds some of the deposit for cleaning and repairs, it is possible to take legal action if you think they have acted unfairly. Proving your case will be hard without the evidence.
Tenants frequently fail to realise that they need to ask permission before hanging pictures and mirrors or installing shelves. Even if the landlord allows this, they may expect you to make good any holes and decorations at the end of the lease.
Subletting of residential leases is not normally allowed and the landlord has the right to take legal action and evict a tenant if they breach a clause in the signed contract.
This can also extend to the keeping of pets where the landlord has the legal right to decide whether this is allowed. It should be stated clearly in the contract if it is forbidden or whether there are restrictions as to the type and number of animals.
Lease contracts are lawful and binding. Disputes should be avoidable if terms are made clear in the tenancy contract and both parties fulfil their responsibilities from the start to finish.
If you have any concerns about lease terms or a leasehold property, either as a tenant or landlord, Paul Addison our Senior Partner and expert in landlord and tenant disputes has wide-ranging experience in this area and will be happy to advise you.