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View Full Version : Tenant requests - not sure what to do!



hannahh
06-11-2009, 09:02 AM
Hi all,

I wondered if anyone could point me in the right direction of some info on a couple of requests our tenants have made.

1. We are renting our house to a group of three sharers who have a joint tenancy agreement with us (ie not a HMO). They have requested to put locks on their bedroom doors. The tenancy agreement states they cannot do this. Our question is whether there would be any legal issue if we did allow it - my partner is concerned about there being a fire risk if they are able to lock themselves in their rooms, and it placing additional responsibilities on us in terms of insurance. He also thinks bedroom door locks aren't allowed in rented properties that aren't HMOs but I can't find any info that confirms or denies this.

2. The tenants moved in on the 24th October, paying a month's rent and six weeks' deposit up front. They've asked whether they can move the payment date to the first of the month, ie to pay their next instalment on 1st December, as they get paid at the end of the month. While I'm sympathetic to their request, I am worried about whether we would be making ourselves vulnerable in some way by letting them push back the payment date, so by 1st Dec they would be six days in arrears, which isn't acceptable under the terms of the tenancy agreement. We could ask them to pay six days' worth of rent on the 24th Nov, followed by one month's rent on 1st December, but again my partner is concerned that this might in some way invalidate some of the terms of the tenancy agreement, which states that the rent must be paid on the 24th of each month.

While they haven't been in long, we feel confident that these are good tenants so we don't want to be unnecessarily obstructive to their requests, just want to ensure that anything we allow them to do won't cause us problems further down the line.

Any advice or pointing in the direction of info would be very much appreciated!

Snorkerz
06-11-2009, 10:23 AM
Before going through your query, I'd draw to your attention the fact that your property almost certainly is a HMO. This definition is the clearest I could find... http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/hmo.htm

The rules for HMOs are more strict than for regular rentals, you would need to check with the local housing office as the rules can vary from area to area.

Locks on bedroom doors are expected on HMOs, but they need to be approved - for fire purposes etc. Again, local council can advise.

Poppy
06-11-2009, 11:05 AM
Just one cotton picking minute. These tenants viewed the property, observed its layout, liked it, agreed to move in and pay rent. Now they don’t like the set up? :rolleyes:

Keep things simple by not adding bedroom locks. I would say in a firm but friendly way that the property is as it is. What’s wrong, don’t they know and trust each other?

Keep things simple by not changing the rent day. On the other hand, if you are willing to amend the rent day, only do so if it does not leave you out of pocket, let them take any financial hit.

hannahh
06-11-2009, 13:56 PM
Thanks Snorkerz - we actually took legal advice when we first let it (couple of years ago, also to three professional sharers) and were told it's not a HMO but from the info you've given me and from a quick squizz around elsewhere on the net, it seems clear that it is.

I'm feeling quite shocked that both a qualified solicitor and a professional letting agent would both have told us this is not a HMO.

Having a slight panic now - clearly we've got bigger things to sort than worrying about what date the tenants pay their rent...

Snorkerz
06-11-2009, 14:35 PM
DON'T PANIC!

You're not alone - my only property was let by letting agents to a non-family, thus making a HMO - when it clearly didn't meet the legal requirements.

Find out what your obligations are - they may not be as dramatic as they seem.

mind the gap
06-11-2009, 14:44 PM
Snortrkerz is right - as long as you show that you are being professional about it, finding out from the council exactly what is required and implementing the requirement as soon as is reasonable, then they will be OK with you.

Councils' biggest headaches are the slimeball landlords who treat their HMOs as cash-cows without being willing to make them safe or even habitable, not people like you who are clearly keen to do the right thing.

Paragon
06-11-2009, 14:47 PM
If two of your tenants are a couple - then not an HMO.

hannahh
06-11-2009, 15:00 PM
Thanks everyone!

I've checked our council's HMO policy - we don't need to be licensed and seem to have done everything else that they would require - big phew. This forum is such a godsend!

Poppy
06-11-2009, 15:05 PM
Good to know that the answer in your circumstances is an uncomplicated one – which you should also extend to the bedroom locks and rent day. :)

mind the gap
06-11-2009, 15:23 PM
Hannah, a couple of thoughts on locks :

In an ideal world, people living together as 'a household', whether in an HMO or not, would not request need locks on their bedroom doors because they are supposed to know and trust each other well enough not to need them. However, for anti-intruder purposes, some tenants do feel happier with them fitted. However, the locks must be of the sort openable with one hand from inside (thumb-turn ones) for easy exit in case of fire, etc. And if they weren't fitted when they moved in, I agree with Poppy - they should have negotiated about it before signing the contract.

It also means that if they have TVs in their rooms, they are each liable to pay TV licence fees individually, rather than getting one licence for the whole house - but that is their problem, not yours.

HairyLandlord
06-11-2009, 17:37 PM
They've asked whether they can move the payment date to the first of the month, ie to pay their next instalment on 1st December, as they get paid at the end of the month.

You don't have to vary the tenancy at all for this and the expiry date of the term remains unchanged.

Just add x days to the next rent that is due on 24 November and this takes them to the 1st of January.
Then its the monthly rent thereafter.

Write to them to confirm this if you agree to do it.

I do this all the time, as tenants move jobs, or their employer changes their pay date. etc.

If you don't know how to pro-rata the rent per day, here's how I do it.
Monthly rent x 12 / 365.
Then you just multiply by the number of days.

Snorkerz
06-11-2009, 17:49 PM
HairyLandlords suggestion means that tenants are always paying just a little bit of the following months rent too (month being the original tenancy month). This may confuse matters if you ever need to issue a s8 notice.

Eg:

24 Nov Payment covers All of 24 Nov/23 Dec and a bit of 24 Dec/23Jan.

If they miss the payment due on 1st Jan, they will not be a full month unpaid and so this won't count towards the 8 weeks unpaid for issue of a s8.
1 Jan - 3(ish) weeks due (acording to AST) & unpaid
1 Feb - 7(ish) weeks due & unpaid
8 Feb - still 7 weeks due & unpaid
1 Mar - 11 weeks unpaid, you can issue your s8 notice.

hannahh
10-11-2009, 11:46 AM
Thanks for your advice everyone. The saga seems to continue - I explained the situation regarding rent payment dates to the lead tenant and offered them the option of their payment on Nov 24 covering them until the end of Dec, then starting to pay on the 1st of the month from January onwards. His response was: "We can't pay you anything on the 24th. The letting agent said it would be OK to pay you on the 1st".

To the tenants' credit, they now understand and accept that they signed a legally binding agreement to pay on the 24th, and have assured us that they will be paying in full on the correct date - I think they are inexperienced rather than anything else. However, notwithstanding this, it feels like the agent has tried to pull a fast one with us all - telling the tenants they would be able to vary the payment date to suit them, and not passing this request on to us while we were signing up to a contract under which rent would be paid to us on the 24th of the month. Not surprisingly, neither side is very happy.

I can't see anything in our ts & cs with the agent about any recourse in the event of a situation like this - but the agent's lies have soured what looked like it would be a good tenant-landlord relationship. Is there anything we can do other than write a strongly-worded letter of complaint and never use this agent again?