According to a detailed study* by Direct Line Landlord Insurance around 15% of tenants fail to keep their tenancy agreement covenants – they break the rules they’ve agreed to.
Failing to pay rent on time, smoking in the property and keeping a pet are the three most frequently broken rules highlighted by the study.
In the case of one-in-11 tenants (9%) their landlord never gave them a tenancy agreement – they are living contract-free!
While the majority (65%) of tenants have stuck to the rules, says Direct Line, 15% claim to have broken the terms and conditions of their rental agreement, while a further 9% claim that they don’t have a contract at all.
Over one in ten tenants (11%), claimed that they were unsure as to whether they had actually broken any of the rules in their contract or not, presumable they never read it.
The rules tenants breach range from failing to pay the rent on time or at all (25%) to failing to regularly check the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm (10%).
Other common broken rules include smoking (21%), keeping a pet (18%) and damaging or making alterations to the property (17%).
The most common sanctions that landlords can apply for breaking tenancy rules include:
- Losing some or all of the deposit (52%),
- Having to pay for any damages (22%)
- In some extreme cases tenants were even evicted H(4%).
However, more than one in five (21%) tenants say that the landlord never found out about their tenancy agreement breaches.
Nick Breton, Head of Direct Line for Business has some advice for tenants:
“The relationship a tenant has with their landlord can be crucial in the smooth running of a rented property. It is therefore of utmost importance for tenants to keep in touch with their landlords should anything arise that may be in breach of their rental agreement.
“Many landlords may be accommodating of requests to have a pet or to make changes to the property, but it is always safest to ask before doing anything to ensure that you are not breaking your contract in the process.
“Tenants who break the rules of their contract can face anything from the loss of their deposit to eviction, so for peace of mind, landlords should ensure they have a watertight legal contract in place to fall back on should anything happen to their property.”
And advice for landlords:
Direct Line for Business outlines here its top tips for landlords to ensure that tenants stick to the rules of their contract:
- Be clear from the outset: Ensure that your adverts clearly state any rules that you feel strongly about – for example looking for non-smoking or pet-free tenants only.
- Have it agreed in writing: It is imperative to have a written tenancy agreement for your tenants. Not only will they be legally required to pay rent, but it will also clearly outline what is and what isn’t allowed in the property. It’s a good idea to go through all of the clauses and penalties with the tenants before they sign the agreement to ensure that they are clear on the rules of the tenancy.
- Maintain dialogue with your tenants: You are within your rights to make scheduled visits to your property to ensure it is being maintained to a level that was agreed in the contract. This will also ensure that tenants look after your property, and dissuade them from breaking the rules too much.
- Don’t go overboard: Try not to make too many rules. Keep it simple. Establish a trusting, positive relationship with the tenant as they’ll be even more likely to stick to the rules.
- Accept that you may need to be flexible: If you have good tenants in your property for a length of time who make a request to get a pet, you may want to consider a compromise. Keeping the value of your property is one thing, but this may be offset by the time and cost of finding new tenants if it becomes a deal breaker.
*Direct Line for Businesses’ research conducted between 19th and 22nd August 2016 by Opinium Research amongst a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults, of which 938 (47%) rent their properties from a private landlord. Opinium Research is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.