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Common landlord and tenant disputes and how to resolve them
The landlord and tenant relationship can be difficult if you are always involved in disputes with your tenant. Most disputes arise because either the tenant or landlord has breached their obligations.

However, if you are aware of and honour your rights as a landlord and your responsibilities to your tenant, you will be able to resolve almost any conflict that could arise.

The following is a list of common issues most landlords face, and how to prevent and tackle them.

Pets in the House

Having pets in the home you are letting can lead to disputes if your position on the matter isn’t clarified.

If you would prefer that your tenants do not bring pets in to the home, make sure this is made clear when writing up the contract.

However, if your tenant is in need of a service animal to help them with a disability, you may want to make adjustments to the contract. Refusing to allow service animals could lead to an unlawful discrimination case if your tenant seeks legal advice.

Council Tax Payments

Depending on your arrangement, either you or your tenant is responsible for paying council tax. If your whole property is being let to one tenant, multiple tenants, or a family, then the responsibility lies with them.

Renting the house to multiple tenants who each have a separate tenancy for their rooms means you are responsible for paying council tax.

As long as these terms are clear, you will avoid being liable to tax debt.

Subletting

With the growing popularity of sites like Airbnb, subletting is becoming an increasingly popular way for tenants to make some extra cash. Most tenancy agreements have a clause that forbids subletting of the property.

Unless you have previously given your tenant permission to do this, you are within your rights to take legal action. Subletting is in breach of the contract, and is grounds for evicting your tenant (but you have to give them notice).

Repairs

Issues over repairs and faulty appliances are some of the most common causes of landlord and tenant disputes.

As the landlord, you are responsible for maintaining the property in terms of:

  • The structure and interior of the property
  • Basins, sinks, baths, toilets and pipework
  • Water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, fitted heaters etc.

The property you let has to be fit for habitation, and maintaining all of these points will ensure that it is.

Some common hazards that can make a property unfit include:

  • Problems with drainage and sewage systems
  • Traces of disease in the property
  • Safety issues such as dilapidated walls
  • Lack of water supply

In these cases, disputes arise when it isn’t clear who is responsible, because it depends on the circumstances of how the damage was done. If the house is in disrepair due to usual wear and tear, that is the landlord’s responsibility, but if there is direct damage, it is usually the tenant’s.

The State of the Property when the Tenancy Ends

Signing the contract means the tenant is agreeing to keep the property in a clean state. If you want them to maintain the garden and driveway as well, make sure it is explicitly stated in the contract, so you aren’t surprised with an overgrown garden and driveway once they move out.

When you check the property at the end of the tenancy, if you find it has not been adequately cleaned, you can deduct money from the deposit to pay for cleaning costs. Keep in mind, if your tenant feels the deductions are unfair, they can seek legal advice or raise the issue with the Deposit Protection Service.

Be Reasonable

A dispute with your tenant can cause a lot of tension and make it difficult to communicate. However, as long as you know what your rights and obligations are and you are open to negotiation, most issues can be solved informally through polite and reasonable conversation.

That said, if issues persist and your tenant is breaching their contract, then you are within your rights to seek legal advice and/or terminate the contract.

About the Author

Compare My Move is an experienced company that provides a comparison service for home and office movers in the UK. 

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