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Advice on tenant request/last two month's rent please


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I have never been so happy to find a forum!

Quick background - I (and my husband) own a flat in SW London which we used to live in and now rent out (all above board, consent to lease on mortgage, declare for tax - except it's never made a profit etc)

In the last four years we have had three tenants.

1) Husband and wife and five year old girl. Paid the rent every month, never complained about anything but left the flat in quite a dirty state - but we sucked it up as they'd been easy tenants and although they had a cleaning company come in, it had to be done again.

2) Husband and wife - IT contractor in the country for a few months. We were persuaded to take this tenancy by the letting agent. Paid the rent but we heard from them every day (I am not joking) for six months insisting we do the most ridiculous things. The male tenant was very aggressive and threatening. I could not wait for them to move out. They left some items broken and dirty and we tried to claim through the DPS adjudication but they ruled against us - and I really don't think we were being unreasonable.

3) Girlfriend and boyfriend. Persuaded again by the letting agent to take them as time was running out. Even though he failed the credit check. I know, I know. They have been there months and in that time we have had a handy man sent there at least twice a month, every month, to solve some things that absolutely were reasonable requests and some things that are just a joke - i.e replacing lightbulbs! The letting agency is useless. We paid an introduction fee but at their request (!) didn't use their management service. This results from emails at all hours from the tenant - again the male one, the female one I've never heard from.

We have decided to change to a different letting agency and pay for a managed service - which actually will cost us the same as we're paying now but hopefully will mean not having to deal with any tenants directly.

I plan to serve the two month's notice required on their next rent due date.

Well done if you've got this far!

I have two questions

1) They regularly threaten to with hold rent. We would be in serious trouble if they did that. The rent doesn't cover the mortgage, or the service charge in the block of flats and we already make a loss on it every month (can't sell - negative equity) - and we would really struggle to make up any shortfall. We have a month of rent at DPS, but obviously it takes ages to get that if they refuse to pay. What would we do about the other month if they didn't pay that either? I also get the feeling they are going to be very difficult and may refuse to move out. Where do we stand with that?

2) The latest request from them is to have someone to come into the flat with a "mould measuring device" (I kid you not) because there is mildew on the windows and in the shower. They went to the letting agent about it instead of directly to me, and to be fair the agent did try to solve the issue by telling them that they have to open windows regularly. not hang wet washing around the flat, use the extractor fans etc etc and that they should clean the windows/doors/shower thoroughly with bleach. However, unfortunately at the end of that email the agent told them that we would send our handy man to have a look at it. I've spoken to the handy man (who does repairs for several landlords in our block of flats) and he says there's nothing he can do, they just have to clean sufficiently etc. I have tried explaining this to the tenants but they are like a dog with a bone and I constantly get "but the letting agent said so you must do" type responses. The letting agent is ignoring my emails and voicemails asking them to tell the tenants that they need to sort it out themselves by cleaning. What would you do in this situation?

Any advice gratefully received.

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I'm not surprised you didn't read it all. Ben Hur was shorter.

Do I actually *need* to serve an S21 though? The contract we have says we can give two month's notice once they have been there for four months (they've been there six). Can't we just send an email or do we need to do something more official?

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What would we do about the other month if they didn't pay that either? I also get the feeling they are going to be very difficult and may refuse to move out. Where do we stand with that?

There is nothing you can do now. In future:

a. Take out rent guarantee insurance.....and/or

b. Get a home owning guarantor.

c. Make sure you have at least 4 months rent payments in reserve.

2. What would you do in this situation?

a. Give them a brochure on how to deal with condensation.

b. Provide them with a dehumidifyer.

c. Remind them that they are responsible for damage caused by damp/ mould due to poor ventillation.

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I let in SW London - what agent are you using? Sounds like you need a firmer one.

If you are using an agent why do you let the tenants have your phone and email address? Make them call the agent every time - that's why most people use an agent - to get away from tenant hassle.

Specify to your agent that you only want to let to 2 working young professionals - easy to come by in that area and rarely default on the rent. Check refs, employment and previous renting details thoroughly and don't be afraid to say 'no' to ones the agent puts forward.

Get an inventory done at the outset to showing condition (especially bathroom).

I add a special clause in my tenancy agreement that says something like ' premises is rented in sound, mould free condition and the tenant is responsible for cleaning off and preventing (by opening windows) any mould that should occur in any part of the property'. I also state that clothes are not to be dried on airers and the suchlike. To date this has solved any issues on this matter.

You have to do your homework to be successful in letting.


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