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Agony Agent

18th March 2017

Each week, we answer a reader’s rental property question, from first-time landlords needing pointers about contracts to experienced owners.  Agony Agent, is here to help!

This week’s question is one that normally happens around winter and Christmas time.

Q. Richard what should I do, my tenants have split up?

A. There are a couple of points that I would recommend.

Don’t get involved.  Break-ups can be dramatic and much as your tenants would love to get you involved in the nitty-gritty of the split.  Don’t.  It is not your place to do so.  Stay professional.  You let a property to responsible adults, you are not a therapist, so just stay out of the way and find out what the tenants want to do.  Does one of them want to stay on?  If so, are you sure they will be able to afford the rent, plus bills?

If they can afford the rent and bills, you can let them stay on, but you may want to change the tenancy agreement.  If you do choose to change the tenancy agreement then you will have to refund any deposit taken and ask for a new deposit, which you’ll then have to re-protect.  Please don’t miss out this step.  It is very important to ensure any deposits taken from tenants are protected in one of the Government approved tenancy deposit schemes.

If you think the tenant who wants to stay can’t afford the rent on their own, and you have no legal right to chase the former tenant for rent, then you may be better off issuing a Section 21.

If they both want to leave, then you can accept a notice to quit from them, and end the tenancy in the normal manner.  If there is still a fixed term to wait out, then you may still have a legal right to the rent.  You might want to negotiate with the tenants on this point though, because really your new focus now should be on getting new tenants in.

If there is a history of rent arrears or persistently late rent, then you may be able to use a Section 8 to get them out.  However, if you know the tenant can’t really afford to live in the property without the second income, but there have been no arrears in the past, you may have to sit and wait until the rent is sufficiently late to allow you to issue a Section 8, or until their fixed term ends.  If you can’t issue a Section 8, then issue a Section 21 as soon as you can, and as soon as you believe there may be a problem.  Whatever you do, always keep the lines of communication open between you and your tenants, just don’t get involved in the “he said she said”.

Just remember you are not the only person that this has happened to and that many landlords have experienced this, and come out of the other end.  If it is getting too much for you, get in touch, I am more than happy to take over this situation and see it through.

Richard Bond

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