FAQs

We enjoy doing the boring legal bit, so you don’t have to! But, if you are interested, check out our FAQs for answers to some common questions:

Helpie FAQ

  • What affect could COVID-19 have on my intention to seek possession?

    At this unprecedented time of national lockdown during an international pandemic, some temporary amendments have been made to the laws which govern your right to seek possession, as follows:

    Amended notice periods for section 21 notices and section 8 notices, depending on the circumstances of your specific case.

    Amended court procedures for seeking possession using both the accelerated and standard procedure, including some additional steps which need to be taken.

    The amended notice periods are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October 2021.

  • Can I kick my tenant out without a reason?

    You cannot normally evict your tenant during the fixed term of their tenancy unless they breach a term of the tenancy agreement, such as not paying rent or engaging in nuisance behaviour. In this case you will need to serve a section 8 notice. Once the fixed term has expired (usually six months), you can evict them without a reason so long as you give them two months’ notice, called a section 21 notice.

    There are several rules which must be followed for either notice to be valid. With both, you must apply to the Court for possession of the property if the tenant does not leave at the expiry of it.

    Of course, speaking to the tenant first might cause them to stop/correct their wrongdoing, saving you time and expense – a legal letter could be helpful for this.

  • Am I allowed into the property whenever I want?

    As landlord, you have a right to reasonable access to the property to carry out repairs or inspect it. You must usually give 24 hours’ notice in writing. Unless there is an emergency, you do not have the right to demand access without notice or to enter the property without permission.

    If you are having trouble gaining access after having given the correct amount of notice, you may need to take legal action. The first step for this is a legal letter.

  • Can I increase the rent?

    You cannot normally increase the rent unless your tenant agrees, or the tenancy agreement allows it.

    If there is a rent review clause in the tenancy agreement, it will not apply once the fixed term has ended. In this case, you will need to give your tenant a rent review notice which will lead to the first-tier property tribunal determining a ‘market rent’ for the property.

    An alternative way to increase the rent is to seek to sign a new tenancy agreement with the tenant to extend the term of the tenancy and the rent due.

  • Is it my responsibility to do basic repairs at the property?

    The first place to check is the tenancy agreement – what does it say you must/will do and what does it say the tenant is responsible for? Your tenant will normally be responsible for small maintenance jobs, such as changing a lightbulb, and for repairing any damage they have caused.

    However, and even where the tenancy agreement seeks to say otherwise, the landlord is always responsible in law for the structure and exterior of the property and the installations in the property for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating, and heating water. But this implied responsibility will not apply until you have been given notice of the need for the repair, following which you have a ‘reasonable time’ to complete it.

    This is a complicated area of law, but our landlord law experts can assist if you need support with a disrepair dispute.

  • My tenant has left for good; can I remove the items left behind?

    As landlord, you have a legal obligation to look after any belongings left behind when your tenant has moved out or been evicted.

    You must make reasonable efforts to trace your former tenant and give them written notice of how they can collect their belongings, usually 28 days. This is known as a ‘torts notice’ and must contain certain information which is set out in law.

    If your former tenant does not collect their belongings after the date in the notice, you can sell or dispose of them, making a deduction for your reasonable expenses, but the balance will belong to your former tenant.

  • When can I withhold the tenancy deposit?

    You should always ensure that the deposit is properly protected in a tenancy deposit scheme; failure to do so can lead to a claim for compensation from your tenant(s) and restrictions on serving notices.

    You cannot take money from the deposit without agreement by your tenant or a decision by the scheme. Usual reasons for a landlord retaining some of the deposit include rent arrears, damage to the property or where items on the inventory are lost or broken. You cannot take money for reasonable wear and tear or to fix repairs which were your responsibility.

    Our landlord law experts can assist if you need support with a tenancy deposit dispute.