Tips for new landlords: Avoiding and resolving disputes with tenants
Even if you have carefully vetted your new tenants before agreeing a contract, there is still a chance that the tenancy may end with a dispute. Most disputes between landlords and tenants can be solved by communication and the enforcement of the contract signed by both parties. More complicated disputes may require the intervention of the Deposit Protection Scheme and if needs be, the small claims court.
Do your bit
In addition to reference and credit checking your new tenants, make sure you have completed all of your legal obligations before letting the property out, including obtaining a gas safety certificate and taking out landlord insurance covering both the contents and the building.
Talk it through
The most common problems between landlords and tenants surround the big three - deposits, rent and repairs. In addition to creating a watertight contract that covers you in the instance of rent going missing or the property being damaged, sit down with your new tenant and discuss each other's responsibilities. Forging a positive relationship and making yourself approachable increases your chances of avoiding disputes.
You must insure the deposits of your tenants in a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme. These government-backed schemes ensure you will receive remuneration should your tenant fail to pay the rent or damage your property.
This service also acts on behalf of the tenant, ensuring they will receive a reasonable amount of their deposit back if they behave in line with the terms of their contract. In the event of a dispute at the end of the tenancy, the scheme holds the deposit and offers a free dispute resolution service until terms are agreed between the landlord and tenant. Both sides can provide evidence to support their case and an independent decision is reached.
If there is no way back and evicting your tenant is the only solution, there are strict procedures you must follow to avoid illegal eviction. The government provides a guide to eviction orders and court hearings here.