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Oct, 2014

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  1. #1

    Default Can a Landlord restrict Tenants from having over night guests in HMO?

    Hello.

    I currently manage a HMO with 5 occupants. Due to the number of people sharing the property, it is difficult to get them to share the bills amongst themselves. Therefore I pay all the bills (Gas, Electricity, Water, Council Tax and Broadband internet).

    One tenant is taking the biscuit by having her boyfriend stay most of the week and hogging resouces, such as the kitchen. The bills have soared since she moved in and I don't want the other tenants to follow her example.

    I would like to know, if I as the landlord who pays the bills, can restrict the tenants from having overnight guests for more than two nights per week or can demand that they contribute extra money towards the bills if they decide to have guests around.

    How is the above enforceable and how would I word it in the tenancy agreement?


    Your in-put appreciated.

    Regards,

    Asrah

  2. #2
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    There is no effective way to enforce such a clause - but it doesn't stop you putting it in future tenancy agreements.

    Your only option is to evict the tenant using either section 8 or section 21.

  3. #3
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    As Snorkez says, it'll be difficult to enforce, and you also say that it's not easy to have the tenants organise themselves to settle the bills.
    So perhaps you could pay the bills but charge the tenants for the utilities. I believe that if tenants have no individual counters (which they obviously don't in your case) you can charge based on a reasonable estimate. So basically 1/5 each in the normal case, or 2/6=1/3 for the girl who's got a frequent guest and 1/6 each for the other tenants.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjlandlord View Post
    So perhaps you could pay the bills but charge the tenants for the utilities. I believe that if tenants have no individual counters (which they obviously don't in your case) you can charge based on a reasonable estimate. So basically 1/5 each in the normal case, or 2/6=1/3 for the girl who's got a frequent guest and 1/6 each for the other tenants.
    Of course you con't impose anything that isn't in the existing contracts, and you can not force new contracts onto your tenants.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjlandlord View Post
    As Snorkez says, it'll be difficult to enforce, and you also say that it's not easy to have the tenants organise themselves to settle the bills.
    So perhaps you could pay the bills but charge the tenants for the utilities. I believe that if tenants have no individual counters (which they obviously don't in your case) you can charge based on a reasonable estimate. So basically 1/5 each in the normal case, or 2/6=1/3 for the girl who's got a frequent guest and 1/6 each for the other tenants.
    I've prevously tried to get the tenants to pay their portion of bills, but it's always ended up with people arguing a lot and claiming they use less energy compared to the others.

    I had a word with the other tenants and they are annoyed just as much as I am with the gilr. I think I'm going to have to confront her. Good Idea or Bad?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asrah View Post
    I've prevously tried to get the tenants to pay their portion of bills, but it's always ended up with people arguing a lot and claiming they use less energy compared to the others.

    I had a word with the other tenants and they are annoyed just as much as I am with the gilr. I think I'm going to have to confront her. Good Idea or Bad?
    Confronting her is one thing, harassing her is something else. Tread carefully, especially if you are male.

    Long long time ago when I lived in bedsitland, each room had an individal meter, as did the shower. That did leave the kitchen and communal lighting on the landlords bill but meant that those who used most tended to pay most.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snorkerz View Post
    Of course you con't impose anything that isn't in the existing contracts, and you can not force new contracts onto your tenants.
    Of course!

    Quote Originally Posted by Asrah View Post
    I've prevously tried to get the tenants to pay their portion of bills, but it's always ended up with people arguing a lot and claiming they use less energy compared to the others.
    I'm afraid this is a fact of life.
    The only way to be sure no-one will ever complain is to have individual meters, which may not be possible with shared bathrooms, kitchens, etc.

  8. #8
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    By having house rules as part of the tenancy it does mark out what is acceptable behaviour or not. If the rules say stop overs are restricted, the other tenants can legitimately complain to the errant tenant and make his life a pain in ways that you cannot do.

    As previously pointed out its hard to start rules once a tenancy has started, but his tenancy may already say that only one person is to occupy the room and you can remind him of that. You can also say that utilities have increased disproportionately so he is liable unless his g/f makes herself scarse.

    Its obviously annoying the others, so tell him its not on and if you hear from the others it hasn't changed by next week, you will be giving him notice to quit and that you are prepared to release him from any fixed term on his contract as he would probably be happier elsewhere where stop overs are not at the inconvenience and expense of others. You should talk to the tenant and not his friend.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bel View Post
    By having house rules as part of the tenancy it does mark out what is acceptable behaviour or not. If the rules say stop overs are restricted, the other tenants can legitimately complain to the errant tenant and make his life a pain in ways that you cannot do.

    As previously pointed out its hard to start rules once a tenancy has started, but his tenancy may already say that only one person is to occupy the room and you can remind him of that. You can also say that utilities have increased disproportionately so he is liable unless his g/f makes herself scarse.

    Its obviously annoying the others, so tell him its not on and if you hear from the others it hasn't changed by next week, you will be giving him notice to quit and that you are prepared to release him from any fixed term on his contract as he would probably be happier elsewhere where stop overs are not at the inconvenience and expense of others. You should talk to the tenant and not his friend.

    Thank you for the advice, really useful. I decided to hold a house meeting to discuss this issue as well as some other ones,(so that the individual concerned wouldn't feel victimised). I was surprised to hear all the other tenants raise their objections on having the over night guest staying. Resulted in a heated argument amongst them and the problem tenant, which was really uncomfortable to watch. She has decided to give notice to quit and move on. Problem Resolved. Thank you to everyone for their kind words of wisdom.

  10. #10
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    There are some things you cnas do to lessen the likelihood that such behaviour will occur, although its not 100% preventable.

    1. If you are letting the rooms directly yourself, I would recommend learning about human behaviour, body language and about a range of subtle signs that people give off all the time, especially when they are lying.
    People give themselves away often without realizing it and those who give off the signs that they are or are going to be trouble, need to be spotted as early as possible.

    2. If you're not already doing so, ensure you run everyone through a comprenehevsive tenant assessment process. This is more than just a Homelet check. I can offer some further info if you wish. PM me if so.

    3. Ensure you include a provision in the tenancy agreement about guests staying over, under what circumstances you permit them to do so and explain why you have this rule. Explaning why helps people understand the reasons and it makes it more likley that tenants will abide by it.
    You should also tell them about this informally aswell before they agree to take a tenancy, so they are forewarned.

    4. If possible, only let to people who have shared successfully before (parent's home and university don't count).

    5. Make sure each person knows about whatever house rules you want to have, both verbally and in writing before they sign up for a tenancy.

    In dealing with your case, I would consider someone who spent 2 days each week at a property to be part of that tenant's tenancy and therefore, I would divide the bills by 6.
    Its very tricky to make changes part-way through a tenancy without consent and also when its a HMO and therefore, as others have said, you may have to wait it out until you can remove the undesirable tenants.
    In the meantime, why don't you start redrafting your new tenancy agreement with the guests clause properly hashed out and also, a set of house rules?

    This is slightly off topic but when tenants leave, you might like to consider asking each of them what they would change or improve about the home or any other aspect or rules. Its like customer feedback and this can sometimes give you tips about improving things that you may not be aware of and which can make a difference to future tenants. As long as the outgoing tenant doesn't feel that what they might say won't be construed by you as negative/complaint-based comments, you should get some honest replies.

    I used to have a pre-formed spreadsheet that could calculate each perosn's share of the bills exactly based on the time they lived at the property (for new and departing tenants and for known holidays), but now I run my HMO with all bills inclusive and its saves a lot of hassle and also, makes my property more attractive as potential tenants know they can budget exactly for the next x period of time.
    Natural selection is a wonderful thing
    You shall know them by their fruit
    Saying "Never say never", says it

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