Q & A with Kate Faulkner from LBC Property Hour week 2, sponsored by Direct Line Landlord Insurance.

publication date: Sep 27, 2016
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Q & A with Kate Faulkner from LBC Property Hour week 2, sponsored by Direct Line Landlord Insurance.


Each Thursday I am in the hot seat as co-host of LBC Property Hour, sponsored by Direct Line Landlord Insurance, alongside Clive Bull and the guest on week 2 was Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action.

Here are the Q&As and some more help and advice if any of these issues apply to you:-

Q – My mother has a three year contract with a letting agent which is due to expire soon and she wants to sell the house rather than renew. She has been in contact with an estate agent to arrange a sale but the letting agent, who is aware of my mother's intention to sell, has put new tenants in on a year long contract without discussing this with us. Their rationale was that we hadn’t informed them in writing.

What can I do?

A – In normal circumstances you have to give a letting agent the notice required in your terms and conditions, typically three months, before you want to property vacated, otherwise they can and will try and find new tenants.

You're first step in these circumstances will be to find out if there is a break clause in the tenant contract to see how quickly you can get the property back from the tenant and sell.

It is also worth taking legal advice and if you can't enforce the break clause or there isn't one in the contract it is worth trying to negotiate a resolution which suits everyone, especially as the agent did know about it and perhaps should have advised you they needed the notice in writing.

Need to find the right sales and letting agent? Read our expert checklists on How to choose a Letting Agent from Belvoir and How to Let a House from Reeds Rains.

Q – A council tree has caused damaged to my property, the roots have damaged my wall, the council have said to contact my insurance company but I don't currently have any?

A – First things first, you should get buildings insurance sorted as soon as possible, it is there to protect you and your property whether you have a mortgage or not.

You should phone the council again and ask them to sort the problem out now they are aware of it, at least so it doesn’t get any worse. Either at the same time or as a next step talk to an RPSA or RICS surveyor as they can assess the problem and also negotiate with the council on your behalf.

Not sure how to find a surveyor? Read our expert checklist from SurveyMyHome

Also, here is some useful information on trees from Lewes council: Trees and the Law – so it may be worth seeing if your own council has information you can use!

Q – My partner and I plan on becoming landlords, we are working out whether to rent to the local authority or use an agent, what are the pros and cons?

A – Think about the level of rent you want to achieve first. When renting to a local authority you have security of fees and don't need to worry sorting refurbishments, however you won't have control over tenants and may not be able to charge maximum rents as benefits are now capped.

When using a letting agent you will need to do your due diligence, ensure they have client money protection in place. Using a letting agent means you have more control and means, for example, you can just rent out for a year and see how things go.

New landlords should definitely consider using an agent first, but make sure they are members of NALS/RICS or ARLA.

Need to choose a letting agent? Read our expert checklist.

Q – I pay my rent on time and have done works on the property which I paid for myself. I asked the letting agent to do some work but they said they would have to increase rent, which has already recently gone up, do they have to sort out certain issues like damp walls?

A – Your landlord has a duty of care to ensure you have enjoyment of the property and that they keep it well maintained, especially adhering to the 29 housing health and safety rules which include getting rid of damp.

You should be covered under the Deregulation Act in this case. If the agent is not playing ball on repairs, put your requests in writing to them with all the problems and ask how and when they are going to fix them.

Under new rules brought in, in 2015, they have 14 days to respond on behalf of the landlord. If they don't you can report them to the Environmental Health Office at your Local Authority (do this in writing and keep a copy). When you've done that, if the office agrees the works need doing, they can't serve a notice and this protects you against retaliation eviction.

If sending emails, make sure you have a read receipt and written letters should, ideally, be delivered by hand so you have evidence of your complaints.

Problems with landlords? Learn how to avoid them with our expert checklist.

Q – What do landlords and tenants need to know about Right to Rent checks?

A - In this video Paul Shamplina from Landlord Action talks about Right to Rent immigration checks which is the new law brought in by the government from the 1st February.

Q – I rent out a flat to a tenant who has sub-let it to illegal immigrants, what are my rights?

A – If the tenancy has come to an end you can serve a section 21 notice but you will need evidence that they are illegal immigrants. Give them a written notice of an inspection at least 24 hours in advance and ask them to provide you with ID. The next step is to see if you can get a court order.

Need to ask a tenant to leave if they are in breach of their contract? Read our expert eviction checklist from Landlord Action.

Q – I purchased a derelict house to refurbish with plans to either rent out or sell. I phoned the council to register that I owned the property, they then sent me a £600 surcharge because the property has been empty for two years, what can I do about it?

A – This should have been picked up at the point of purchase, so contact your property solicitor/conveyancer to find out if the seller didn’t declare it or if your own legal company missed that money was owing. Ideally the previous seller should pay this amount or you’ll have to negotiate with your legal company if they messed up.

For more on Council Tax charges and empty homes, visit .gov to find out more.

We also work with Beaumont Legal and the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, both can help you find someone to deal with property legal issues.

You can also listen to whole show here with the LBC Property Hour podcast.

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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