Struggling to know which responsibilities lie with you and which with your tenants? You’re not alone.
According to Endsleigh’s survey*, nearly 40% of landlords (and 30% of tenants) agreed that tenants are unclear on what their responsibilities are when living in a rental property.
But unfortunately, it’s this lack of clarity around responsibilities and obligations (on both the part of the landlord and the tenant) that could lead to deposit disputes at the end of the tenancy – as well as a whole host of other uncomfortable situations.
*Endsleigh Landlords and Tenants Better Relations Survey Insights, November 2014
So what are the landlord’s responsibilities?
Together with the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS), we’ve created this tenant and landlord responsibilities guide to clear up the confusion when it comes to rental property maintenance and care.
How do I use this to build a better relationship with my tenants?
Being a landlord is stressful enough, which is why it can make life so much easier if you have a strong relationship with your tenants. Managing expectations, being clear on tenant and landlord responsibilities and a few goodwill gestures when your new tenants move in will all pay dividends when the tenancy renewal date rolls round.
Here are a few other tips for building a strong relationship with your tenants:
1. Provide a welcome pack
Providing a welcome pack when a new tenant moves in can go a long way to helping them settle in and will get your relationship off to a good start. Going the extra mile and providing essentials such as tea, sugar, bread, toilet paper and washing up liquid can make the stressful business of moving in that much easier for a tenant. If you’re a student landlord or your tenants are new to the area, providing a map of the local area and a copy of the bus timetable will be especially helpful.
2. Help them to organise their gas and electricity
According to our research, the biggest discrepancy between what tenants and landlords believe relates to providing meter readings at the beginning and end of the tenancy period. Nearly three quarters (73%) of landlords correctly think it is their tenants’ job to do this, but only 35% of tenants agree. Offering your tenants some support in this area (even if you don’t take the reins entirely) could help towards building a better relationship with your tenant. If the property has a gas or electricity key, be sure to let the new tenants know ahead of them moving in. If you were feeling generous, you could even put a little credit on the meter to ensure the new tenants aren’t without heat and light when they move in.
3. Give fair warning for rent increases
Despite rental prices often rising in the UK, nearly 50% of tenants we surveyed don't expect yearly rent increases. If you’re considering increasing the tenant’s rent, try to provide them with plenty of notice – ideally a few months to allow to them to prepare financially. It’s worth bearing in mind that tenants may be more responsive to paying a higher rent if you offer to improve the property.
4. Prepare for emergencies
In the event of an emergency, it’s crucial that your tenant knows how to contact you (or the letting agent), and that you’re responsive when an issue is urgent. You might want to consider arranging home emergency insurance for your property and adding your tenant as a named contact on the policy so that they can open claims on your behalf. Home emergency is an optional cover that you can add to your landlord insurance policy to protect your property against the loss of essential services, making your property safe and secure following unexpected damage.
5. Don't just drop in
As part of their tenancy agreement, tenants are entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment of the property,’ which means that - outside of an emergency - you should avoid dropping in on tenants unexpectedly. Typically, landlords should let tenants know at least 24 hours in advance that they’re planning to come round.
As with anything else in life, communication is key. Making it clear what your tenants are responsible for right from the outset, as well as showing a little flexibility while they settle in, will help towards improving your relationship.
This article is based on our ‘Landlords and Tenants Better Relations Survey Insights, November 2014