Finding a new tenant
Arranging a Viewing
Before a tenancy is agreed
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
Tenancy terms and conditions
Contract obligations for landlords
How much rent can be charged
Can tenants get help with rent
Property repairs and maintenance
Tenants' responsibilities for repairs
Problems in tenancy
Ending a tenancy
Tenancy break clause
Private landlords’ who offer safe, quality homes that are well managed, are more likely to attract responsible tenants. While the majority of tenancies run very smoothly and terminate agreeably, a minority of tenancies will end in rent arrears and property disrepair.
Increasing your knowledge of landlord and tenant legal obligations and responsibilities and good tenancy management practices can help reduce problem tenancies. Where issues do occur, providing they are dealt with quickly and appropriately this can prevent otherwise satisfactory tenancies from ending prematurely.
If you are a landlord or agent who owns, and/or manages privately rented property in Bolton, you can access a range of housing services and tools designed to help you achieve longer and more satisfactory tenancies. Contact Bolton Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LAS) for more information.
You can advertise a property you have available for rent in a number of ways:
- Local authority website e.g. www.homesforbolton.org.uk and www.pinpoint.org.uk which is free of charge for LAS members and includes tenant reference checks
- In local newspapers and magazines. The local newspaper has daily advertising in a property section
- In shop windows and notice boards in supermarkets
- Through a lettings agent or a managing agent
To advertise a property free on the local authority website contact the Bolton Landlord Accrediation Scheme at email@example.com
When showing people round, allow them to make their own way through your property at their own pace. Be available to answer any questions and have a copy of all the particulars to hand. This should include any facts that are relevant to the property about which the prospective tenants might ask.
Emphasise the good features such as accredited property status, additional security measures, energy performance rating and anything else which might have appeal. Give the viewers time to discuss the property alone before they leave and don’t pressure them for a decision whilst they are viewing the property.
If the prospective tenant shows an interest explain that you may have to carry out further checks before you can make a final decision. It is advisable that you only make a decision once you are happy with the pre-tenancy checks.
Pre-tenancy checks may be carried out before you let your property. These may include:
- Obtaining references. These can include current and previous Landlord references & employee references
- Proof of identity and/or proof of current address. This can include a driving license, passport etc.
- Proof of income, this can assist you to establish if the individual can afford the property. A person who is on benefits may be able to get assistance towards their rent through Housing Benefit.
- Proof of Home Office documents. If an individual has come from abroad, it may be helpful to request a copy of the Home Office documents, this can assist you to understand their legal status in the UK.
Landlords who advertise property to let via the Bolton Landlord Accreditation Scheme can access additional tenant reference checks. For details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If a person cannot provide some of the documents you have requested, it may be advisable to carry out credit checks or ask for a guarantor for the length of the tenancy.
Using a guarantor means that in the event of a tenant being unable to meet their obligations under the tenancy agreement, the guarantor is legally bound to accept the liabilities on behalf of the tenant. This offers some protection to the landlord in the event that the tenant defaults on the rent. The guarantor would usually be a homeowner and would probably be in regular, paid employment.
A tenancy agreement is a legally binding document between a landlord and tenant which sets out the terms and conditions of the rent contract. Landlords and tenants may have other rights and responsibilities depending on which type of tenancy they have. Tenancies can run for a set period, normally of six months or longer (fixed-term tenancy), sometimes continuing on a month-by-month basis (periodic tenancy). A tenancy agreement should be prepared before anyone rents the property.
Landlords operating in Bolton, can request a free Tenancy Agreement from Bolton Landlord Accreditation Scheme. email@example.com
Tenancy agreements can also be purchased from Oyez, the national stationer at www.oyezformslink.co.uk.
The most common form of tenancy is an AST agreement. You may have an AST if all of the following apply:
- The rented property is private
- The tenancy started on or after 15 January 1989
- The property is the tenants main accommodation
- The landlord does not live in the property.
All new tenancies are automatically ASTs. You can set up another type of tenancy, called an 'assured tenancy' but this gives the tenant more rights to stay in the property.
It is important that the terms and conditions of this legally binding document are clearly set out, we therefore recommend that you use an approved tenancy agreement which should include the following:
- Names of all people involved
- Rental price
- Deposit amount and how it will be protected
- Property address
- Start and end date of the tenancy
- Tenant and landlord obligations
- Bills the tenant is responsible for.
You could also include information on:
- How to pay rent
- Whether the tenancy can be ended early and how this can be done
- Who is responsible for minor repairs
- Requirement not to cause a nuisance or anti-social behaviour
- Whether the property can be let to someone else (sublet) or have lodgers.
Once you have established that the tenant clearly understands the terms and conditions, you should both sign the agreement. Tenants should receive a copy of the signed agreement and should keep it somewhere safe.
Landlords, should also ensure that the contract terms:
- Are fair
- Do not go against legal landlord duties
- Are balanced between the two parties
- Cover rent payment
- Cover deposits
If either the landlord or the tenant are unsure of any terms in the agreement, they should get legal advice before signing.
To download “Assured & Assured Shorthold Tenancies – A guide for landlords” click here.
Tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes guarantee that tenants will get their deposits back at the end of the tenancy, if they meet the terms of the tenancy agreement and do not damage the property.
Landlords must protect their tenants' deposits using a TDP scheme. Landlords or agents must use one of the three approved TDP schemes where these conditions apply. If any other scheme is used, deposits are not protected in law.
The three approved schemes are:
- Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
- My Deposits
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
If a landlord does not protect your tenant’s deposits when required to, tenants can take landlords to court. The courts can order the landlord to repay the deposit and compensation up to three times its value. Landlords will also be unable to obtain Possession of the property in certain circumstances.
For more information about these schemes and how to make contact visit
Rent is paid by tenants who, in exchange, can live in your property. It is normally payable weekly or monthly, and the amount of rent and your preference in how you would be paid should be agreed with the tenant before the tenancy starts. Your tenancy agreement should state the following:
- How much your rent is
- When it is due, weekly, monthly, etc
- On which day it should be paid, for example, every Friday, or the first of the month)
- How it should be paid (for example, by standing order, direct debit, cheque or cash
- What it covers, for example, does it include council tax or gas, electricity or phone bills?
It would be advisable for a landlord to provide a rent book or keep a record of any rent payments received in case they is a dispute. Receipt should be provided to tenants for every payment made. It is also advisable to keep a rent statement.
Landlords operating in Bolton may request a free rent card / statement from Bolton LAS
The rent should be clearly written on the tenancy agreement, it is the landlords decision how much rent to charge. It would be advisable to check the Local Housing Allowance [LHA] rates before you setting the rent in case the tenant circumstances change in the future.
The LHA rate is a maximum flat rate allowance decided by the Rent Service payable to housing benefit claimants.
Tenants may be able to claim Housing Benefit to pay for some or all of the rent. The amount they get depends on their individual circumstances, such as how much they earn, what benefits they get, who lives with them etc.
Landlords should not assume that tenants will get Housing Benefit, or how much, until confirmation is received in writing. To check the amount of rent a tenant is entitled to, use the on-line calculator http://www.bolton.gov.uk/benefitscalculator.
This would need to be completed, jointly with the tenant as some of the questions would be about the tenants income and personal circumstances.
Housing benefit legislation is subject to change and can be quite complex. To access professional and expert advice see here.
If a tenant has misses a payments, contact the tenant straight away. There may be a simple explanation such as the tenant has changed their bank details or the bank has made an error so the rent has been overlooked. Most tenants, when reminded about a missed payment, will respond quickly and remedy the situation.
If the tenant does not respond within a few days of missing a payment it may become a more serious rent payment problem. Landlords must respond quickly to resolve the issue with the tenant. It is possible that the tenant’s circumstances may have changed i.e. they are no longer working, so are unable to afford the rent.
We can assist landlords to contact tenants and find out the reasons why the rent has not been paid. If the tenant confirms they have financial problems or the tenant has lost his/her job it may be possible to come to some mutually acceptable arrangement. Should the landlord and the tenant agree, we would advise to set out in writing a plan of action with timescales for payments and back payments of rent arrears.
If the tenant has lost their job, or there has been a change in their income they may be eligible for Housing Benefit. For information on how tenants can make a claim visit http://www.bolton.gov.uk/website/pages/Housingbenefit.aspx
If a tenant owes more than eight weeks of rent, landlords may wish to make a request for the rent payments to be paid direct to them. To access direct payment request form see here.
If tenants refuse to communicate and actively avoid contacts with both the landlord and our service, there may be no other option than to begin legal proceedings to obtain a possession order.
Both landlords and tenants are responsible for keeping rented properties in good repair.
Landlords' responsibilities for repairs
Landlord, must keep their property in good condition, and any gas or electrical systems must meet specified safety standards.
Section 11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
This is a statutory implied term which states that the landlord must keep in repair:
- The installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation
- The installations for the supply of space heating & water heating
- The structure and exterior of the property
- The communal areas & installations associated with the dwelling
Landlords are normally responsible for repairs to: basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings, heating and hot water systems, any damage caused through attempting repairs.
Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The HHSRS is a mechanism for assessing the health and safety risks in dwellings, and was introduced with the Housing Act 2004. The principle of the HHSRS is that any residential premises (including the structure, means of access, and any associated outbuilding, garden or yard) should provide a safe and healthy environment for any existing or future tenant or visitor.
HHSRS is a risk assessment process and is comprehensive in its coverage of key health and safety risks in dwellings. In very broad terms, the HHSRS works by assessing the risk associated with certain home hazards and if the likelihood of harm is significant the Council may take action to ensure that the risk is removed or reduced
To download a brief description of the 29 hazards, associated health effects along with any vulnerable groups click here.
Tenants should only carry out repairs if the tenancy agreement says they can. Tenants should take reasonable care of the property, for example, by turning off the water at the mains to prevent burst pipes if they will be away during cold weather. Tenants are also responsible for making repairs to put right any damage caused by their household and visitors. Landlords are not obliged to repair anything that belongs to the tenant in the property, unless it has been damaged because the landlord did not carry out their repair obligations, for example, not fixing a leaking roof.
Download 'Repairs - a guide for landlords and tenants'
Within an approved tenancy agreement is an inbuilt clause called the ‘covenant of quiet enjoyment’, which means
- The tenants have the right to live in the property undisturbed
- The tenants cannot be illegally evicted
- The tenant’s rights should be respected
Quiet enjoyment is most often breached by the landlords’ failure to meet repairing obligations so it is essential that repairs are undertaken in a reasonable timescale. Also, landlords are in breach of this covenant if they try to ‘encourage’ tenants to leave because of rent arrears or simply because they want the property back quickly. However the legal procedure in all such cases is to serve a Notice and if necessary go to court for a possession order.
Anti-social behaviour includes minor problems with dogs, children, untidy gardens and lifestyle cases through to serious noise problems, violent and criminal behaviour, drug dealing and intimidation or racial harassment. A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.
Landlords are not expected to assume the role of the police, the local authority, or the Courts, but we do expect them to seek advice, to find out what, if anything, they can do, and to notify the relevant party. The tenancy agreement should always include a clause requiring the tenant not to cause a nuisance or annoyance. Landlords can refer tenants to the clauses ensuring they are made aware that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and responsible landlords, if it continues, are obliged to take the matter further. All local authorities have an officer who can be contacted for advice or help dealing with antisocial behaviour.
Seek advice and or report anti-social behaviour in Bolton click here.
Abandonment is where the tenant appears to have relinquished their tenancy by moving out without giving prior notification to the landlord. However, even if a landlord believes that the tenant has left, the tenant in the eyes of the law is still the tenant and retains all legal rights attached to the tenancy.
A tenancy can only be brought to an end by the landlord obtaining a court order for possession or by a surrender or similar act by the tenant.
Always seek advice, the tenant is still liable for the rent until the landlord has legal possession: locks should not be changed, tenant’s belongings should not be removed and the property should not be relet during this period in case they return.
Information on Notices and possession procedures is available from Housing Advice Services.
To bring a tenancy to an end landlords have to serve a written notice on their tenant. The type of notice served depends on when the tenancy started and the landlord wants them to leave. If the tenant refuses to leave at the end of the notice period, an order for possession from the County Court is needed.
If a tenant still refuses to leave after getting the court order, the landlord will have to go back to court to get a bailiff’s warrant. It is important to remember that landlords cannot execute the warrant themselves, they must follow the correct legal procedure. There are two main types of notices, either a Section 21 notice or a Section 8 notice described below.
Within a fixed term tenancy Section 21
Under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 as amended by the Housing Act 1996, a landlord has a legal right to get his property back at the end of an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). This notice is not ‘fault-based’ and is simply issued because the landlord wants the property back after a specified period of time; not because the tenant has done something wrong.
Using a Section 21 is a mandatory possession procedure and a judge has no discretion, as they do with section 8 possession procedures. A section 21 notice can be issued at any time during the fixed tenancy 21(1)(a) or during the periodic tenancy 21(4) (b). A Section 21 takes at least two calendar months to expire, but cannot expire before the end of the fixed term tenancy or break clause if there is one.
Landlords should remember to keep a copy of the notice served. If the tenant does not leave by the expiry date on the notice the landlord will need to apply to the court for a possession order. Provided the correct procedure has been followed by the landlord issuing the Section 21 notice, the court will have no choice but to grant the possession order.
After the court has issued the tenant with the notice to leave, if they have still not left within the required period, then a landlord must ask county court bailiffs to evict the tenant.
To request a Notice template contact the Bolton Accredited & Residential Landlord Organisation click here.
Outside a fixed term Section 21(4) (a)
Once the fixed term of the tenancy ends, unless a new fixed term is agreed, the tenancy automatically becomes a statutory periodic tenancy which rolls from week to week or month to month depending on how often rent is paid.
A Section 21 notice complying with 21(4)(a) should only be given to a tenant whose tenancy has become a periodic tenancy as a result of the fixed term ending. In these cases, a minimum of two months’ notice is required and the day on which the notice expires must be the last day of a period of the tenancy.
If a landlord wishes to regain possession before the end of the agreed term, they can issue the tenant with a notice under section 8. A section 8 notice can only be used in certain circumstances and it is recommended that landlords get advice to find out if it is appropriate to serve this type of notice. Once a section 8 notice has been served a landlord would still be required to obtain a possession order from county court if the tenant has not moved out.
If the tenant has a fixed term tenancy but wants to move out before the end of the term, they can only do so if the landlord agrees or, if this is allowed for by a ‘break clause’ in the tenancy agreement. If the agreement does not allow the tenant to leave early and the landlord does not agree that they can break the agreement, the tenant will be contractually obliged to pay the landlord the rent for the entire length of the fixed term. Landlords should ensure that tenants have the same opportunities as themselves to end the tenancy agreement.