The help desk heroes return! Jim Lougheed and Brian Roscow man the RLA’s busy Landlord Advice Team (formerly known as the RLA Helpdesk). Here are more of the most frequently asked questions – and their answers…
Q: As a responsible landlord, I am aware I have to arrange an annual gas safety check on my tenanted property. What can I lawfully do if the tenant is not co-operating over allowing access?
A: Clearly, neither you nor your Gas Safe engineer can go forcing your way in. Download the standard letter from the RLA website: go to the ‘Documents’ section and search under ‘landlord letter’ pack. Personalise this with both yours and your tenant’s details and post it to them, and keep a copy for your records. Essentially, you need to make it clear to the tenant that if they continue to use the gas supply without it being checked, then they do so entirely at their own risk.
Q: I have taken over the management of a couple of properties for my elderly father. Do I need to do anything?
A: You need to tell the tenants formally of the change of manager. Do this via a Section 48 notice from the ‘Documents’ section of the RLA website.
Q: I have a joint tenancy agreement and one of the parties to the agreement has left early. What do I need to do?
A: The joint tenancy agreement will continue until both parties move out and hand back vacant possession of your property. In the meantime, you may want to review the remaining tenant’s financial ability to continue with the agreement on their own.
Q: My tenants have left owing me money for rent and have failed to give me any forwarding address. Am I left with no option but to write off this money?
A: Not at all. Go to the ‘Suppliers’ section on our website. This is a kind of trade directory for landlords. Scroll down to ‘Tenant Tracing Services’ and for £50/£60 one of these companies will track down your tenant’s new address. One or two operate on “no find no fee” basis. Having established their new address, write to them and let them know you are still expecting settlement. If no payment or payment plan is forthcoming, consider suing them through the County Court Small Claims System. This can now be done online by inputting ‘moneyclaim’ into Google.
Q: I have been approached by a local university to let one of my rooms to a student from overseas. He cannot provide a suitable UK based guarantor and I am unable to do a credit check on him. What should I do?
A: Simple! Ask him to pay the whole of rent in advance together with the usual deposit.
For landlord advice, phone the RLA’s Landlord Advice Team on 0845 666 5000, or log in to the RLA Forum at www.rla.org.uk/forums