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synesthesiac
27-09-2011, 10:43 AM
Hello,

A brief question about ASTs and including a clause about how long the tenants may leave the property vacant for (e.g. if they go on holiday).

Is there anything statutory I can use as a guideline? What's the minimum period you may state as a landlord?

Thanks!

Snorkerz
27-09-2011, 10:45 AM
I always look at my insurance documents - I think 30 days is the most it can be unattended on my current policy.

synesthesiac
27-09-2011, 10:49 AM
Thanks for replying. Do you know what the least it can be unattended for is? What I'm getting at is, from a LL's point of view, when does it breach a tenant's statutory rights? E.G. You obviously can't ask a tenant not to leave the property empty and unattended for one day - so where is the threshold?

theartfullodger
27-09-2011, 10:54 AM
Doubt there's legislation on the matter, probably only a judge if it ever got to court would decide, probably on basis of reasonableness..

What's your concern?? Things like frozen pipes (covered by other stuff I think..).

My tenancies state 14 days, dunno if that's enforceable and I only ever had one Tenant notice and mention it... (telling me he'd be away for exactly 14 days...)

synesthesiac
27-09-2011, 10:58 AM
Well, I'm actually asking on behalf of someone else who is in the process of putting together an AST for a house they're shortly renting out. They're new to this and a bit nervous about things like squatters moving in etc. (I don't think this is terribly likely but they have asked me to try and find out exactly what the rules are!)

The other question I should have asked is - if you state a minimum period it can be left unattended for.... does it have to say '...without informing the landlord' (i.e. you can leave it empty for longer as long as the landlord is notified), or is it acceptable as a flat 'you can't leave it empty for longer than X amount of time'?

midlandslandlord
27-09-2011, 11:01 AM
Consider recommending that they join the RLA or NLA for a year; RLA comes with a useful helpdesk and templates for dozens of types of doc, and I assume the NLA does too (?).

[and it will take away your 'advice' liability when you get it wrong and they sue the pants off you :D: ].

ML

theartfullodger
27-09-2011, 11:03 AM
If he's nervous then I'd very very strongly suggest he/she joins NLA or RLA (tax deductible,..) and gets their standard tenancy agreement and other paperwork..

(No offence..) but unqualified re-writing of legal documents does not have a happy history..(I speak from personal experience..)

The sort of clauses you are suggesting are, anyway, largely unenforceable ..

Key thing usually is the choosing of tenant, tenant checks, references (current & previous landlord... - previous as current may want them out..) etc etc . If not sure of tenant, don't take them...

midlandslandlord
27-09-2011, 11:03 AM
Mine says T should inform LL if away for 14 days or more, on top of the usual 'protect from frost' and all the rest.

I'd suggest marketing it to T as 'helping you protect yourself', and would include more detail in the Tenant Handbook under things like draining the plumbing etc.

ML

ram
27-09-2011, 11:16 AM
I often ( well, once a year ) go on holiday / get up and just point myself
in a direction, and am out of the country for 3 to 6 weeks.

i would be very miffed if my landlord said i could not go on holiday for more
than two weeks.
Granted, it would be up to me to ensure someone would check the premises
every 2 weeks / put heating on ( timer does not work ) etc.

But in the absence of knowing anyone, it would then be up to the owner of
the poperty to observe the conditions of his insurance contract, and maybe
have the landlord or letting agent visit, to inspect, to ensure everything is
in order, every two weeks.
No charge should be made for this as it is protecting your property, the same
way as if there were no tenants in the property ( for which you are receiving
NO rent while vacant, and you still have to inspect)

R.a.M.

synesthesiac
27-09-2011, 11:24 AM
That was my thought - I wondered where the threshold is, because I don't see how you can ask people who are reasonably paying to live somewhere, not to go on holiday! But my friend is a bit nervous about entering the exciting new world of landlordery, so I wanted to be able to give him as accurate advice as possible.

ram
27-09-2011, 11:43 AM
That was my thought - I wondered where the threshold is, because I don't see how you can ask people who are reasonably paying to live somewhere, not to go on holiday! But my friend is a bit nervous about entering the exciting new world of landlordery, so I wanted to be able to give him as accurate advice as possible.

On another point.
When you issue an AST, you must also give them a copy of the relevant parts
of your Head lease, ( Your lease ) and the the Sub-tenant has to abide by
the conditions in the head lease.

But to be fair, you can also add that the landlord and any sub-tentants have
to abide by the terms of the block insurance for the building ( different from
contents insurance ) and that it states the the premises have to be inspected
/ viewed if property is empty for more than 30 days, or whatever the insurance
stipulates, and the sub-tenant will make arrangements to fullfill the insurance
contract.
And that they must inform the letting agent if they are going to be away for
more than the stipulated time, so you can inform the insurance company.
( no need to inform insurance company if someone is available to inspect )
And that sub-tenant should have someone enter the premises, on tenants
behalf to comply with the insurance stipulations.

something on those lines, as if you dont tell them the conditions of the
insurance policy, they will not know !

Often tenants will go away for a month or more, and not tell any one, so
you would not know anyway ! so long as the rent gets paid, how do you
know when they go on holiday, unles you harass them every week asking
if they are going to leave the place empty next week, for 6 weeks !

R.a.M.

LesleyAnne
27-09-2011, 13:11 PM
I'm fairly sure the one I use states no more than 14 days, without notifying the LL (I'd have to dig it out to check). We are lucky that our property is within an hour's drive, and we could feasibly keep a good eye on it if tenant needed to be away longer. You also obviously cannot rule out hospital stays, sick relatives, family bereavements etc, so not always holidays will take tenants away.

I would recommend your friend joins a LL organisation as already mentioned, as letting is a minefield for the unwary, or get s good letting agent to deal with the first let for them, until they learn the ropes. They must learn everything they need to know about a LL's legal obligations and things like deposit protection, EPCs, gas safety, repair requirements etc. If they are already stuggling to just get the AST right, then I am wondering if they know enough to let their property without getting into serious problems. In my experience, tenants generally know everything about their rights and can run rings around amateur LLs. Don't let us see you (or your friend) back here posting a nightmare story in a few months time, when everything has gone bad!

Did you mention it was a flat? If so, is it leasehold? Has permission to let been agreed with the freeholder? What about mortgage? If there is one, has consent to let been agreed with lender? Sorry to be asking such basic questions, but new, nervous landlords often forget (or do not even know of) these requirements!

Snorkerz
27-09-2011, 13:37 PM
Amazon (or the local library) will have books along the lines of "The Idiots Guide to being a Landlord". There are numerous, and they contain a good grounding to the basics of 'landlordery'. For less than £20 (some less than a tenner, delivered) such a book would be a great investment (or gift?) for your friend. Just make sure the issue date is recent - say no earlier than 2009.

ram
27-09-2011, 13:41 PM
i know you will have researched your situation.
But look at http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/debt_and_arrears/mortgage_arrears/renting_out_the_property/Top_ten_tips_for_becoming_a_landlord

There are many more web pages out there, but above post and this link
gives the basics.

Contents insurance should be taken out by the sub-tenant, as you
wont have any of your "personal" contents in the flat.

r.a.M.

midlandslandlord
27-09-2011, 14:07 PM
I often ( well, once a year ) go on holiday / get up and just point myself
in a direction, and am out of the country for 3 to 6 weeks.

i would be very miffed if my landlord said i could not go on holiday for more
than two weeks.
Granted, it would be up to me to ensure someone would check the premises
every 2 weeks / put heating on ( timer does not work ) etc.


This is just surely another of those square circles where we have to guess what shape it really is.

T can forbid L access and go away in a way which invalidates the property insurance, just as can also be the case with preventing Gas Safety inspection, or creating an HMO by breach and a legal liability for LL in the eyes of our thicker Councils.

Life is a Chinese Puzzle.

ML