16th June 2018
Q: I have had a great couple living in my property for the last few years, however, they have recently split up. Should I do anything about this?
A: There are a couple of points that I would recommend. First of all, don’t get involved. Break-ups can be very messy, and as much as your tenants would love to get you involved in the split, don’t. It is not your place to do so. Stay professional and impartial. This may sound like cold-hearted advice, but you need to protect your business. You rented your property to responsible adults, and have no responsibility beyond this. Often the case is that if they can drag you into their dispute, then they will.
Just stay out of the way and find out what the tenants want to do. If they want to stay on 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, be careful, as once a new agreement has been signed in just one tenants name, you have no legal right to chase the former tenant for rent. Your only course of action would be to give notice using a Section 21.
If they both want to leave, then you can accept notice 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, as your new focus should now be on getting new tenants in.
If there is a history of rent arrears, or persistently late rent payments, with them as a couple, then as singles they won’t be any better! It may just be best to end the agreement now, and they both leave. 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”.
Remember, you are not the only person that this has happened to, many landlords have got through this, even when that they have become a part time therapist! Although I do not have any couples therapy experience, I am an experienced Lettings Manager and I am more than happy to take over this situation and see it through, if it is becoming too much for you; or at the very least, offer a helping hand.