In Part 1 of the Debt Respite Scheme, Debt Breathing Space legislation article, we discussed the implications for landlords and in Part 2 we delve into the mental health crisis breathing space. Do note however that;

this is only available to someone who is receiving mental health crisis treatment and it has some stronger protections. It lasts as long as the person’s mental health crisis treatment, plus 30 days (no matter how long the crisis treatment lasts). 

Excerpt from UK government publications

This aspect of the legislation is probably the one that has caused much confusion and we felt it was worth quoting the government website again as a starting point.

‘The government committed to develop an alternative route to access the protections for people receiving mental health crisis treatment, so that they do not have to access debt advice first. If an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) certifies that a person is receiving mental health crisis treatment, the AMHP’s evidence can be used by a debt adviser to start a mental health crisis breathing space.

In addition to the debtor, the following people can apply to a debt adviser on behalf of a debtor for a mental health crisis breathing space:

  • any debtor receiving mental health crisis treatment
  • the debtor’s carer
  • Approved Mental Health Professionals
  • care co-ordinators appointed for the debtor
  • mental health nurses
  • social workers
  • independent mental health advocates or mental capacity advocates appointed for the debtor
  • a debtor’s representative’

It is important to understand this aspect of the legislation carefully

Many people have missed its point. The Mental Health Breathing Space can only be issued by a registered mental health professional. No one can go to their GP and ask for one, for example.

The Mental Health Breathing Space is only available to someone who is receiving mental health crisis treatment

That is, being locked up against their will because their mental health is a danger to themselves or their community. This also applies to someone who has voluntarily gone into hospital before the section was implemented. The third group of people will be those dealt with by an emergency mental health team. This means they were thinking about sectioning but decided not to as they thought the person could be cared for at home. This pertains to very serious mental health conditions. 

We are not talking about someone who is depressed or sad and lonely. These are people who regularly and routinely are at very high risk. They are experiencing a crisis and need very specific help. 

Basically, this solution can be applied to a very limited group of situations and people with very serious conditions. It is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card on any level.

The Mental Health Breathing Space legislation differs from a standard breathing space 

This is available to anyone experiencing problem debt. It gives people legal protections from creditor action for up to 60 days. The protections include pausing most enforcement action and contact from creditors. It also freezes most interest and charges on their debts. The time for this is limited to 60 days. Under the Mental Health Breathing Space, the freeze lasts for the length of the mental intervention, however long that might be, plus 30 days. It is not time limited

It may sound like a long period but do bear in mind that most people committed to hospital in this way for more than 60 days will probably want to give up their property anyway. We suggest this number is probably 99.9%. They will not be residing in the property so there are other grounds to terminate the tenancy potentially.

However, we want to emphasise that this is a limited category of people we are talking about that need to be cared for, not evicted.

What about Property guarantors? Are they liable?

As a landlord thinking about property guarantors or joint liable tenancies where one person might be granted breathing space but there is another tenant that owes an equal amount but doesn’t have that. What happens?

A Breathing Space applies to all joint tenants that are part of the same tenancy. But they wouldn’t apply to people on single room lets, these are unconnected. If they are on a joint tenancy it applies but doesn’t apply to guarantors. They are not jointly liable, and their liability is separate and is for different reasons anyway. However, in a joint tenancy you could potentially chase the guarantor.

All of this discussion underlines the importance of the landlord regarding undertaking thorough affordability checks and references. There is a responsibility to ensure that tenants can afford the rent responsibility to pay the rent and also to compare income and expenses etc. during the onboarding stage.

Planning for wastage and possible loss is part of good business planning

There is a wider point that if you are running a sensible business then there should be plans in place to meet objectives and even if your tenants can’t pay for a period of time you should be able to manage this having factored in such a scenario. Basically, a business owner is not running a good business if they can’t weather such a storm. Any decent business has to plan for some possibility of wastage and loss.

Of course, single asset business’ are tougher to factor in non-payment especially through Covid and will possibly change the landlord landscape going forward. Some landlords are walking away while others are increasing their portfolios. In these situations portfolio landlords can typically ride the wave more effectively.

However walking away is not the only solution. Landlord protection is available and is something Howsy offers as part of our Protect plan, which includes rent guarantee to protect your income when your renters can’t pay on time. Find out more.

Can you refuse to rent to someone with known mental health issues?

This is unlawful discrimination and actually asking the mental health question contravenes data protection issues. In fact, asking that question will put you in trouble with the Information Commissioner plus the Equality and human Rights Commissioner. This is definitely not a strategy to pursue. In fact, asking the question won’t give you enough value after all there is not an obvious bright line between past and future health conditions. 70-80 % of the general population have low level health issues. As a percentage these numbers are very high, especially at the moment. Therefore, it cannot be considered as a useful decision point.

If you have questions of your own, get in touch via [email protected] and we will do our utmost to help.

Summary from David Smith

We will have to see how this pans out. However, I do not think this will affect too many people. As we slowly unlock courts and potentially a significant number of tenants saying that they have a Breathing Space move into employment with luck they will enter into a debt solution. In theory everyone gets upset at new legislation but ultimately nothing really changes very much.

Growing rent debt and long notice periods and moratoria will stay in property because of debt solutions. If it doesn’t work out not much will change. After all, landlords need to experience 6 months of rent arrears to start proceedings now.

If you are looking for help in managing your properties, to stay on top of growing legislation, and have access to a legal property expert on speed dial, Howsy can help. Find out more about our property management plans here or book a call with one of our team to find out more.  

Finding the right tenants is so important for a landlord. Ultimately you want to trust the people that are living in your investment. The last thing you want are disputes with tenants, not receiving rent or damages to your property. According to Property Investor Today, “The most common causes for tenant disputes are delayed rent (43%), damage to property (41%), cleanliness (33%), disputes over bills or deposits (10%), pets (9%) and sub-letting (7%)” 

If you’ve spent a lot of time, effort and money to get your home up to a high standard to be let, ideally you’ll want tenants to keep it that way.  On average, data from LV=Gl revealed the average landlord spends over £3,000 a year on general maintenance. Landlords spend the most money replacing/repairing flooring (£322), white goods (£298), other items (£256), cleaning at the end of a tenancy (£178) and removing forgotten items (£149). You could end up making a loss if there are numerous damages beyond the general wear and tear. 

For many landlords, renting a property is vital for pension income, an additional salary or to cover other living costs. You’ll also ideally want to have tenants that you know will pay you each month, on time and won’t mess you around.

If you do find that your rental income isn’t secure, you can guarantee your rent with the Howsy Protect plan

What tenants do you want? 

There are various ways to find tenants. Sometimes people look to family and friends to rent out properties and it’s ideal if you know you can rely on them to look after your place. Yet there isn’t always that option to find someone you know and trust, so you’re left seeking out tenants. 

Consider the type of tenants you want. Do you want tenants on a short term let? Are you going travelling and want to let your property out for a short period of time. Do you want tenants that are in it for the long haul and want a property to really make their home. Would you rather have:

  • Professionals and want to rent out per room?
  • A family
  • Students
  • A couple

This can then help you gauge where to advertise your property. 

How to market your property

Get your property online

In order to attract tenants, utilise websites such as Rightmove, Zoopla, On the Market and Facebook marketplace to advertise your property. Look at having a premium listing on RightMove to help you gain more potential renters. 

Take decent photos

Ensure your property is well photographed and the property is looking at its best before you take the images. Declutter your home and let some natural light through. It can be difficult for tenants to look past the clutter to imagine themselves living in that home. Also, de-personalise your home. Take out personal items in the bedroom and bathroom and clean up dirty dishes in the kitchen, store photos and any ornaments or childrens toys. 

Although you can take images on your smartphone, the images don’t always do your property justice, particularly in small spaces such as a study or a bathroom. It’s worth investing in some professional photography to help take attractive photos. A rental property listing with good quality images will be let 70% faster. For further tips, discover our blog on using photography to market your property.

360 virtual tours

Having a virtual tour can give potential tenants a great insight into what your property is like and can encourage them to get in touch for a viewing. During the Coronavirus pandemic, virtual tours have been really valuable in showcasing a property. This has enabled landlords to still let their property. 

How to screen tenants

Once you’ve had interest in your property, it’s a good idea to screen your potential tenants and carry out some background checks. 

  • Character assessment – Try and meet your tenants in person and go with your gut instinct. Speak to them and get to know them and this will help you gauge what they could be like as tenants. If you can’t meet, perhaps get a character reference. 
  • Landlord reference – Ask their current landlord if they’re reliable and pay rent on time. 
  • Employment reference –  gain further information on whether they will be able to afford to rent the property too. You could ask for bank statements or other evidence for proof of income. Alternatively, it may be worth asking if they have a guarantor to fall back on if they’re unable to pay their rent at any point. 
  • Do a credit check 
  • Do they have pets? Is there anything that could be a deal breaker?
  • Are they smokers? 

Finding tenants can be time consuming. If you do want help finding tenants, Howsy can look after the whole end to end process. From viewings to photography and advertising your property, discover our ‘Rent it Faster (Pay Later)’ plan to help accelerate the letting process. Once we’ve found tenants, our dedicated concierge team will fully screen them and carry out reference checks. Speak to our friendly team for more information.  

Long gone are the days where an evening’s entertainment is confined to only four channels. With thousands of channels offering unlimited options, it is no surprise that many tenants are keen to have satellite tv options installed in their rental properties.

So, if a renter requests a satellite service, what should a landlord say? After all, with satellite dishes adorning the roof and cabling snaking through the inside, installing entertainment isn’t always a simple job. 

On the flip side, once the components are in place to receive satellite services they will remain in situ even after the current tenant leaves and this can be a real selling point for future tenants, who wouldn’t have to worry about arranging installation themselves!

Getting appropriate permissions

Any permanent changes that a tenant wants to make to a rental property should of course be ok’d by the landlord, and having satellite TV fitted should be no different.

Whether the subscription requires the installation of a dish or just internal cabling, changes are required to be made to the property, and as such it is important that the landlord gives their full approval before the tenant proceeds.

As well as being good rental practice, there are certain elements of an installation that a tenant may not have considered – failing to tick all of the correct boxes before pressing ahead could leave the property owner in trouble!

For example, if the landlord is a leaseholder, they may have to get the permission of the freeholder before making changes to the exterior of the property. This could mean reaching out for permission for a tenant to erect a satellite dish. On the flip side, there may be strict rules in place over whether dishes are allowed at all, they may be deemed to infringe on common areas of the property (the exterior) and be against the rules. Installing one dish could break the terms of a landlord’s lease.

Even if the property isn’t bound by a leasehold agreement, there are other potential pitfalls to consider. Blocks of flats often have limits to how many dishes are allowed (more on managing this below) and listed buildings are unlikely to be granted planning permission to erect a dish.

If you are unsure if your property is bound by any planning permission regulations, clear guidelines are available in the Householders Guide to Antennas and the Government’s Planning Portal.

Is there a chance of damage?

If your tenant is having a reputable organisation carry out the satellite dish installation, there should be no major concerns about damage.

The installer will attend the property and assess the best location for the dish, and any internal cabling. The dish installation will require a hole to be drilled through the property’s external wall to allow a cable to be passed through, and then the dish will be mounted onto the external wall. The engineer will position the dish to be angled to pick up the satellites required to access the service – usually this is south facing. The dish will be positioned in a location that it can be accessed for maintenance, if needed. Depending on the location of the dish, the installer may need to drill a hole in the external wall to secure their ladders, however all holes will be made good.

Ask to be present during the installation so you are able to query any issues you have a concern over. If there are any problems with damage, raise them with the service provider. Sky have an Engineer Complaints Department and if a complaint is made a manager will be sent out to review the situation and resolve it. It is worth noting that Sky does use third party engineers for communal set ups and work higher than first floors.

With a dish in situ, it is advisable to add the dish to your list of points to check when you carry out your maintenance checks on the property – they can be sensitive to high winds, so make sure you keep an eye on it if the weather takes a turn! If your property is overseen by a letting agent or property management agent, be sure to let them know that it has been installed and should be monitored.

Tenancy agreements

If there are any strong elements one way or another regarding the installation of satellite tv services, it is wise to include details in the tenancy agreement, so that your tenant is aware of the situation from the start of the process. This would be a reasonable restriction, if it was made clear from the start. 

If the property’s permissions prohibit the installation of a satellite dish, consider including a clause in the agreement specifically prohibiting them. Most agreements include a general clause prohibiting changes to the property without consent, however it is wise to be very clear if there is a specific issue, such as the potential breach of a leasehold.

If a tenant chooses to ignore this clause, they are in breach of the rental agreement and the landlord would have options with regards to how to proceed.  Eviction proceedings could be started, using a Section 8 notice using ground 12 (Breach of tenancy obligation) or a Section 21 no-fault notice. The Section 8 notice has a two-week notice period, but is a discretionary ground, meaning its success is down to a Judge’s decision. With this in mind, if eviction is the end goal, a Section 21 no-fault notice, with a two-month notice period, is a more reliable option.

If the issue is not quite so severe as to want to evict tenants, but damage has been caused in the installation of the dish, it is possible to highlight this to a deposit protection scheme at the end of the tenancy. Rectifying the issue may require remedial work, the cost of which can be recovered from the tenant’s security deposit.

Alternative options

Before worrying too much about the impact of a satellite dish on the aesthetic of your property, you could look into the possibility of ‘dishless’ options instead.

Sky provide the Sky Q option which is able to be installed without a dish – instead being delivered through a box via a broadband connection. Virgin Media is delivered through cable, which prevents the need for a dish – however this isn’t available everywhere, so make sure to check.

Stoptober, Public Health England’s 28-day campaign to encourage people to to give up smoking for the duration of October is well underway.

This nationwide campaign has seen over one million people attempt to stub out the habit, taking action on smoking and health, and is the biggest mass attempt to quit in the country.  

All this is great news for landlords. A whopping 53.6% of smokers in the UK rent within private or housing association properties, however only 7% of private landlords are open to letting their tenants light up – so there’s a serious issue burning away in the sector.

Can you stop a tenant smoking in a property?

Including a clause in a tenancy agreement stating that no smoking is allowed in the property would make it very clear that this behaviour is not acceptable under the terms of the lease, and that the tenant is acting outside of the terms that have been agreed to. It would be possible at this stage to terminate the lease based on breach of contract via a Section 8 notice.

However, landlords are under an implied obligation to allow their tenant quiet enjoyment of the property, meaning a landlord must not interfere (or allow anyone else to interfere) with the tenant’s enjoyment of the property. It could be considered that if a tenant is a smoker, not being able to smoke in peace in their property could be a breach of their quiet enjoyment of the property. At this stage, it would be down to the discretion of the judge to decide who was the party in the right.  

With this in mind, it is worth considering that if by the stage that these new developments have come to light, the damage may already have been done. If a tenant has already been smoking in the property, the smell – often the worst element – will already be present. Rather than going through the process of eviction which can be costly and drawn out, you could consider choosing not to renew the contract at the end of the term, and instead spend the money on a spruce up of the property when the tenant has left.

How is vaping different to smoking?

Over 2.3 million adults in the UK already ‘vape’, and with many people moving away from cigarette smoking and onto vaping kits, it’s likely that the question of whether or not to allow electronic cigarettes or vaping is one that could be faced by many landlords.

The potential damage caused by cigarette burns and the lingering cigarette smoke smell are often key reasons cited for landlords not wanting to allow smoking in their property. Damage from nicotine build up on walls and ceilings from smoke and ash are others. Vaping theoretically removes these issues, but should it carry the same rules?

A cigarette, cigar or pipe requires a flame to burn to be smoked, an e-cigarette or vape is powered by a rechargeable battery, and uses liquid nicotine to produce a mist, or ‘vapor’ which is then inhaled. Although vaping produces a cloud of vapor once dispersed this leaves no trace, unlike smoking.

Choosing whether to allow your tenants to vape is a personal choice, however, unlike smoking it is likely to be very tricky to detect if they are doing so in your property unless they come clean about it. If your tenant is open about their vaping habit, you could choose to include a banning clause in the tenancy agreement– although this is likely to be near impossible to enforce. Alternatively, you could allow vaping, but refer to the ‘no smoking’ clause in the tenancy agreement, and reiterate that vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes are acceptable, but a smoking ban is still in place.

What if you have more than one tenant?

If your property has any Common Parts (the shared areas of a property shared by multiple indiviual tenants – kitchens, bathrooms, toilets, staircases, entrances etc) you must be significantly stricter about enforcing a smoking ban in your property. This is because your property is directly affected by the National Smoke Free Legislation, the same law that impacts our workplaces, cafes, bars and pubs, and your tenants are protected from the health risk of second hand smoke. There are no vaping guidelines within this remit.

Not only is smoking not allowed in these areas, but signs and documentation must be displayed to comply with the regulations. Downloadable copies of the official template signs are available here. Your local authority will have an appointed smoke free officer who can assist with any queries on how to modify your property to comply with the smoke free legislation.

Howsy’s Top Tips for dealing with this burning issue:

  • When advertising for a prospective tenant, specify non-smoking only
  • Include a clause in your tenancy agreement that smoking/vaping in the property is not permitted
  • Reiterate your feelings when you meet with your tenant, and explain your reasons
  • Ensure that all of your insurance policies accurately reflect your tenant’s habits – update if necessary
  • If you have shared areas, make sure ‘No Smoking’ signs are clearly displayed

There is no doubt that winter is firmly setting in. As the seasons change, a new challenge picks up pace for the nation’s renters and landlords – managing damp, condensation and mould issues.

Mould growth in a rented property can be more than just an unsightly annoyance. This pesky issue can cause health problems for tenants, the property to fall into disrepair and if left unchecked can even land the landlord in legal hot water.

But what causes mould, damp and condensation problems? What are tenants rights in this situation, should the fixing the issue be a landlord responsibility, or does the clean up land at the feet of the resident?

The common causes of mould in a property

A mould problem in the home is most often caused by a build-up of condensation. This occurs when moisture held in warm air (such as from showering or boiling kettle) meets cold surfaces, such as a glass window or a tiled wall. The warm air then condenses into excess moisture, which has nowhere to go.  Modern homes have actually made this situation worse. Better standards of insulation, such as double glazing and draught proofing work brilliantly at keeping heat in, but also trap moisture in exactly the same way.

If this happens regularly, the pooling excess moisture lingers in the same area, settling in regular places, such as on window frames and in the corners of baths, which can eventually becomes a mould infestation.

Whilst tasks such as showering and boiling kettles are an obvious source of condensation problems, another key day-to-day household task that is high on the list for creating excess moisture in the air is drying clothes. Every average sized load of wet washing holds a staggering one litre (nearly two pints) of water. That’s a lot of liquid to disappear into thin air every time a tenant needs to dry clothes!

Overcrowding can be a real issue too. Depending on how humid the air around us, the average person loses around 300 to 500 millilitres of fluid a day through just breathing. It’s no surprise that a lot of people in one small space, or even one person in a space that is too small can result in mould if left unchecked and unventilated!

Of course, the cause of damp doesn’t have to come from inside the property. Damaged guttering, broken roof tiles/flashing, damaged mortar in external walls or a leaky pipe hidden deep within a wall can all be sneaky culprits of a dodgy damp area inside the property. This is known as penetrating damp. Coupled with poor ventilation inside, all it takes is a few days of wet weather or a slow leak on a pipe fitting and you could be facing a damp spot that will struggle to dry out.

Finally, everyone’s favourite – rising damp. Occurring on the ground floor or basement, this sort of damp happens when moisture is soaked up though a broken or absent damp proof course, into the bricks or concrete foundations of the property. This situation is now slightly rarer, thanks to effective damp proof courses being present in most properties.

What are the dangers?

As well as being unsightly, some mould issues can actually have real impacts on tenant’s health.

Black mould releases tiny spores which travel through the home, triggering allergies, asthma, and fungal infections.  The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) classes mould as a category one hazard, and requires a landlord to remove or reduce any damp or mould factors that could have any impact on a tenant’s physical or social wellbeing. This applies to homes owned by a private landlord or local authority. You can read all of the HHSRS hazards here.

As well as being risky to your tenant’s wellbeing, a damp problem will undoubtably have a lasting impact on the health of your property. Should internal walls be subject to ongoing moisture, it is likely that significant repair work will be required to get plasterwork back up to a good standard, and woodwork is likely to suffer too.

In the very worst cases, damp can invade the very foundations of a building, and if this happens, you could be facing a really hefty bill – but it’s very possible to solve, so don’t panic! Additionally, it is outlined in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 that a landlord has a responsibility to ensure that the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house is kept in working order so if damp is causing a problem in your property, you need to fix the issue quickly to ensure not only that your asset is safe and secure, but that you are not breaching any landlord legislation (you can check out some more of your legal requirements here).

How to fix the issue

Working out where the problem is coming from is the first hurdle. Once you have figured out what is causing the problem, you can set about tackling the issue.

There are some simple fixes that will make a really big difference inside your property.

  • Install light-activated extractor fans in the bathroom and kitchen – these are the key areas that cause problems internally
  • Install a tumble dryer – and incentivise your tenants to use it if they are nervous about the cost
  • Explore vented windows – if windows are left unopened, bedrooms can be hotspots for condensation. Many windows now offer vented options allowing airflow whilst maintaining warmth and security
  • Consider installing air bricks if they are not in place already, and check that they have not been blocked up!
  • Request that large items of furniture (wardrobes etc) are not pushed flat to the wall. This encourages air flow around them, and prevents build up behind them

If you have a significant problem, you may need to look at ventilating the property, using dehumidifiers to draw water out of the fabric of the building. A dehumidifier can be hired from a local DIY store, but they must be left on continually and are not always very quiet – so the tenant may want to vacate the property whilst this is ongoing!

If damp has crept in from the outside, your focus should be on managing repair work to address the immediate cause. Ensuring maintenance of your roof, guttering, damp proof course and brick work is up to date is vital.

Landlords not managing mould

Manging damp appropriately can be tricky, as often tenants are nervous about reporting it to landlords.

There is a concern amongst some tenants that the blame for any damp within the property will be placed firmly at their feet, and that the first time they report an issue they will pay the price with an eviction notice.

However, whilst it is vital that landlords carry out any repairs that are needed within a reasonable timeframe, they can only do so if they know about them. Details of how a tenant can report any concerns must be included in the tenancy agreement, with UK contact details for the landlord, or their representative clearly stated.

Once a problem has been reported, it is landlord’s responsibility to respond in writing within 14 days to the tenant, noting details of what they intend to do about the issue, and giving a clear timeframe for works.  

If the landlord fails to do this, the tenant can raise the issue with their local council, where the environmental health team will investigate. If a landlord then tries to evict the tenant within six months of the problem being reported but not addressed, they will be unable to enforce the section 21 notice.

In worst case scenarios, failing to manage mould could even land you in court. A new law, the Fitness for Human Habitation Act came in force in 2018, designed to make sure that all rented properties are free from anything that could cause serious harm.

If a property is not fit for human habitation, tenants have the ability to seek legal advice and ultimately take their landlord to court, where they can be forced to carry out repairs, or put right health and safety issues. The landlord can also be made to pay the tenant compensation.

There’s nothing worse than a noisy neighbour, in fact noisy tenants with no volume control are one of the biggest causes of complaint to landlords.

But what are our tenants up to that is so loud? The most common complaints we hear at Howsy include:

  • Noise from pets
  • DIY
  • Parties / loud music
  • Shouting / Loud voices
  • Unattended car alarms

All very frustrating noises to live next door to.

However, there are some noises that, whilst possibly very maddening to listen to are not classed as anti-social behaviour and cannot be addressed by local authorities. These include:

  • Traffic, trains and planes
  • Children playing inside or outside the property
  • DIY activities during the daytime or early evening (Monday-Friday 8am-6pm / Saturdays 8am-1pm)
  • Noise resulting from the ordinary use of a property (Including footsteps, doors closing, toilets flushing, and household appliances being used during the day time and early evenings).
  • Fireworks before 11pm, except on certain dates (until midnight on 5 November, until 1am following the first day of Chinese New Year, until 1am on the day following Diwali day, until 1am on the day following 31 December)

But what can you do if your noisy tenant is causing upset? Before you start delivering ear plugs, there are a few options to try…

Who is responsible for noisy tenants?

Whilst as a landlord you do have plenty of legal responsibilities (you can read more about them here) you are under no legal obligation act on unnecessary noise complaints from a neighbour. However, it is in your best interest to ensure that neighbours are happy – after all, they are your eyes and ears and it is important to keep on their good side.   Wherever possible, it is always good to help smooth troubles waters if you can.

Whilst unlikely to contain a specific ‘noise clause’, some tenancy agreements will contain a clause requiring your tenant to not do anything in the property that causes them to be a ‘nuisance’, and all-night parties every evening would certainly contravene that clause. In this instance, you would be within your right to start section 21 proceedings against the tenant on the basis of a tenancy breach, eventually ending in eviction (however it is unlikely that many landlords would do so if the individual was an otherwise good tenant, and the party was a one-off)!

How to deal with noisy tenants

Very often, having a chat to your tenants can be the best first step to managing this issue. Keep things light and friendly, and mention to them that their actions are causing distress. They may not be aware that whilst they may find heavy metal relaxing to fall asleep to, their habit is causing their neighbours sleepless nights! Try and work with them to come up with a solution to the problem. For example, if the noise levels from their midnight trumpet practice are keeping everyone else awake, rather than demanding they stop entirely, ask if it would be possible for them to stop at 10pm – meet in the middle!

Popping them a message after your chat can be a good idea. A quick text to say ‘thanks for being so understanding about my noise concerns when we spoke earlier, hope your trumpet concert goes well!’ is simple and to the point, but reiterates the chat, and also gives you written and dated proof that the conversation took place.

This evidence is also useful if the causal chat doesn’t work and you need to move to the next step, involving the local council. Collecting evidence that you have tried to remedy the situation yourself is key, as is collecting as much detail about the noise as you can.

It can be difficult for official bodies to investigate noise nuisances, as often it can be sporadic and takes place at inconvenient hours. Making sure you ask the complainant to make clear audio recordings of the noise when it happens (recordings on a phone is fine) and logging the times and dates could be invaluable to a subsequent investigation.

What to do if you live next to a noisy tenant

If you are the suffering neighbour living next to a noisy tenant, contacting their private landlord, housing association or the freeholder can be a good place to start if you would like to elevate the situation. Whilst ideally you would give your neighbours a friendly knock and have a chat with them about the noise issues, in some cases it can be easier to alert the landlord immediately, and ask them to manage the situation on your behalf.

What if that doesn’t work?

If reasoning with the noisy tenant doesn’t work, the last resort would be to involve your Local Authority’s Environmental Health Department. Legally, this department has a responsibility to manage any noise disturbance that is considered to be a ‘statutory nuisance’ under the  Environmental Protection Act 1990, which includes anything which is considered to ‘unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises’ or ‘injure health or be likely to injure health’. However, they are reliant on evidence to process a case – so audio recordings, dates and details are vital here.

Once a case is underway, the occupier will receive a letter saying that they are the subject of an investigation regarding noise disturbance, however your identity as a complainant is kept confidential (many neighbours and landlords choose to skip straight to this route for this very reason). Having examined the evidence, if it is deemed that the noise problem is too loud and the tenant isn’t willing to do anything about it, the council can issue an abatement notice. This strict legal action instructs the individual to cease or limit noise it to certain time of day. A word of warning though, the abatement notice can be served on an individual or the owner of the property – potentially the landlord.

What if they do not stop?

The individual does have the right to appeal an abatement notice, but this is a strict 21-day window. If they do not launch an appeal in this time, they are not able to do so.

Once the individual has received an abatement notice from the council, it is a criminal office to fail to comply with the requirements set out in the notice. In the event of a breach of the notice, the recipient can face prosecution and a hefty fine.

Should it get to this stage, if the property is rented it is possible that the unsuspecting landlord could be facing bigger problems than a noisy tenant. There have been cases in the past of tricky tenants leaving a rental property, and disappearing, thus landing their unfortunate landlord with the fine from a breached abatement notice!

Howsy’s Top Tips

  • If you have a noisy neighbour, notify landlords and managing agents of any issues
  • Keep a clear record of the situation – recordings, dates and conversations
  • Raise issues to Environmental Health if not rectified
  • Be patient – Environmental Health can take up to 12 weeks to process a case
  • Closely monitor any tenants who are causing a noise nuisance – make sure they are abiding by the rules!

Tenant changeovers can be tricky – from a landlord’s point of view, you probably want to keep the void period between tenancies as short as possible. After all, for every week your property is empty, you’re missing out on rent payments that could be going towards your family’s income, or your retirement, or paying off your own mortgage. 

Over time, even small unoccupied or ‘void’ periods can add up to a significant loss of income. But when it comes to the end of a tenancy, managing two sets of renters, incoming and outgoing, can be a nightmare. So how do you time it perfectly, keep your property occupied, and avoid the void?

Be a good landlord 

Prevention is better than cure. So if you can keep your tenants for a long time, it pays to do so! Being flexible and communicating well with your renters will keep them happy and less likely to move out. Over time, this approach not only yields the financial benefits of fewer tenant changeovers – it also just means you have an easier life and less landlord stress. Win-win. 

Talk to your outgoing tenants

If your tenants are definitely leaving, ask them how they found living in the property, and if there’s any particular reason why they’re moving on. If you had a good relationship, you could ask them if they would recommend any future tenants – perhaps they have friends or colleagues who would be equally easy to deal with.

Budget for a void period

Savvy landlords will already be doing this, but there’s no time like the present to start saving. Be financially cautious and expect to have a void period of one month per year. This way if it happens, you won’t panic and end up lowering your rent unnecessarily or settling for renters who don’t fit your specifications, just to fill the gap.

Make your property an easy sell

If you’re planning to advertise your property,  kitchens and bathrooms in particular are more likely to be a deciding factor for renters, so make sure they’re looking their best when you’re nearing the end of a tenancy. And make sure the photos taken by your agent really sell the property – ideally your adverts should be so good they make you want to move back into your property yourself!

Reduce rent and renovate

One of the most common reasons landlords have a void period is to allow them to carry out repairs or renovations. If you want to give the place a lick of paint or refit the entire kitchen, it might be necessary to have your property totally empty – but if there are smaller jobs you want to do, you might be able to carry them out while your outgoing tenants are still in the property. 

This is where having a good relationship with your renters really pays off. With a lot of good will and perhaps a reduction in one month’s rent, you may be able to ‘avoid the void’ by doing some repairs while the property is still occupied, meaning it’s ready for new tenants the day your old ones move out.

Check your insurance

Finally, it’s a good idea to make sure your insurance covers periods when your property is unoccupied. If a boiler breaks in an empty house with nobody to discover it, you could be in for a much bigger repair job than you expected. So make sure you know what your insurers will (and won’t) pay for in advance, to avoid any nasty surprises. 

Making your tenant changeovers quick and easy is a win-win for everyone involved. While you can’t always ‘avoid the void’ completely, over the long term it can really pay off to think carefully and have a plan that minimises your losses while your property is empty.

Unless you’re a dedicated property magnate, being a landlord shouldn’t take up your whole day. But even the most relaxed ‘part-time’ landlords have periods when it feels like the whole process is taking up far too much of your time. 

Lucky for us, new technologies can speed up a lot of the traditional lettings nightmares – or get rid of them completely. So with the help of our property experts, we’ve put together a list of the latest tools, ideas and apps that will help make letting your property quicker, smoother, and less of a headache. 

‘Project manage’ your property

Being a landlord often feels like juggling. Keeping all the balls in the air is hard enough by itself, but making sure your renters, the agent, and the handyman down the road are all kept up to speed can be a nightmare too. 

Trello is a free, simple list-making app that can help you ‘project manage’ your property. It’s used by tech teams and startups worldwide, but it’s also the perfect way to keep track of your property, your tenants, or even multiple properties. 

You can create to-do lists, get reminders when tasks are due, add attachments like contracts or photos, and even tag other people on them so they know they need to do something. There are plenty of options and add-ons, but even the basic app is just the most intuitive project board out there. Big recommend from us.

Try Trello out for yourself here.

Online banking that works for landlords

It’s a good idea to keep track of all payments coming in and out of your property. But if your traditional bank won’t make that easy for you, there are plenty of new banking options out there who will help you track everything for free. 

Mobile banks like Monzo, Tide and Starling Bank offer transparency and money managing options that are simply decades ahead of the bigger, more sluggish banks. They can help you keep track of your payments, produce monthly/yearly reports, and save money in separate pots, all on your phone. If you have multiple properties, this could be the best way to keep on top of them all in one place. 

Some of these apps will even allow you to request payments from other people – so they could also be a handy solution for regular payments between you and your tenants, agents and contractors. 

Check out Monzo, Tide, and Starling Bank.

Super simple inventory management

Ever got to the end of a lease and had to waste time quibbling with your tenants over ‘wear and tear’? Sortly will help you sort that – it’s an inventory management app that helps you easily keep track of the ‘things’ in your life. 

The app is photo-based, which means you can create a clear visual inventory of all you own – or the condition of all the furniture in your property before your tenants move in. It’s designed to help you document everything in your house or office for insurance purposes, so it’s organised, thorough, and really intuitive to use.

Try Sortly for yourself here.

Find the right person for the job

This one’s a must if you’re planning any repairs or renovations. helps you find local contractors for repairs and odd jobs – for free! From landscapers to plumbers, you can see detailed reviews from people who’ve booked them before, and chat to them through the site before booking anything – so you know you’re not about to lose money to a cowboy tradesman.

Find your next handyman, builder or decorator at Rated People.

Calculate your next property move

If you’re in the business of property, you might be looking at buying another property to let it out. This super-quick rental yield calculator will give you an estimate of the potential return from that property – simple!

If you’re a landlord, you’re part of a fast-moving market. But with a few tech tips and tricks, you can stay ahead of the game and make sure you get the most value from your property. Let us know how you get on – or if you’ve got any apps or technologies you think we missed!

For some reason, switching letting agents is one of those things that you just don’t do. It falls into the same category as changing your bank, your internet provider, or your phone contract: you know you might save a bit of money, but the hassle just doesn’t seem worth it. 

Well guess what? Things are changing. Traditional estate agents might take advantage of your fear of the unknown, trapping you into staying with a service that’s just ‘fine’ – but it’s actually far easier to switch agents than you might think. And there’s a lot for savvy landlords to gain by doing so.

1. You could pay much less

Ultimately, pricing is probably your first priority when deciding whether to switch letting agents. And you’re right to be sceptical of the prices charged by traditional agents. Especially since the introduction of legislation like the Tenant Fee Ban (which eliminates a lot of the fees agents are used to getting from tenants), many letting agents are simply finding ways to transfer that ‘lost income’ onto their landlords.

This is where the new breed of agents come in. Our pricing systems are totally different – instead of stacking fees for each service, repair, or item of paperwork, newer agents may give you a flat fee that covers everything you’ll need as a landlord. (Howsy do exactly that – and our plans start at just £35/month). It could be worth switching just to know all your costs are covered in one place, and especially if it’s going to be cheaper.

2. New ideas and technology

Unlike traditional letting agents, newer agents aren’t set in their ways. We don’t just do things ‘because it’s always been done this way’. Simply put, we’re more likely to be keen, flexible, and eager to impress you – and we’ve got the tools to show the dinosaurs how it’s done. 

Take this quote from Howsy founder Calum: 

‘We don’t indulge in stylish offices and fancy cars. We keep our operational costs low, and use the best technology to automate routine tasks, so our focus is on you and your tenants.’ 

Up and coming tech solutions can save online agents so much time and cost, we’re able to spend more time on building better relationships with our landlords, and reduce the upfront cost for our customers too. So a newer agent’s service isn’t just likely to be cheaper – it could be better, quicker, and more personalised. 

3. Better communication 

Maybe your agent was great at the start, but their service has tailed off now they’ve got your business? Once the honeymoon period is over, it can feel like you’ve been pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. 

Especially compared to more traditional estate agents, online agents can offer quicker and communication on the platforms that suit you best – text, chat, phone, whatsapp, email, online dashboards. Some agents even offer 24/7 availability instead of working strict office hours (we certainly do 😎). 

When you run into issues with late rent payments, maintenance issues or finding a new tenant at short notice, the last thing you want is your agent dragging their feet – so switching agents can be worth it just to know you’ll actually get someone useful on the end of the phone, whenever you need them.

Getting itchy feet? We don’t blame you! Luckily, switching agents can be much easier than you think. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Give notice. 
    • Check your contract for how long this needs to be. It can make sense to wait until the end of a tenancy agreement, but you don’t have to.
  • Pay any exit fees.
    • It depends on your contract, but if the agent hasn’t delivered on what they agreed at the start, you may be able to negotiate these fees down, or in the case of a serious breach of contract, waive them completely. 
  • Keep your tenants informed.
    • Get your tenants’ contact details if you don’t have them, and get in touch to reassure them that it’s just the agent you’re changing, not them (unless they’re part of the problem – then you might need to think about evictions). 
  • Arrange the transfer of the deposit.
    • Make sure it’s securely transferred from one scheme to another, as there are very strict requirements for handling your renter’s deposit – it shouldn’t go anywhere near your personal account! This doesn’t need to be a hassle, though: your new agent should be able to take care of it for you.
  • Collect keys and paperwork from your old agent.
  • Set up your new tenancy agreement with the new agent.
  • Benefit from the level of service you should have been getting all along – at a cheaper price 😉

If that list looks like a lot of hassle, that’s okay – because ALL of this can be handled by your new agent. They can liaise with your old agent on everything from drawing up new agreements to speaking to your tenants, to collecting the keys and sorting out the deposit.

If the honeymoon phase is over and your agent is giving you sub-par service, you don’t have to put up with it. Get in touch with us to find out how much time, money and hassle you could save by switching agents.