Renting a property seems pretty challenging at first, with the endless possibilities, options, and scenarios. Each landlord has their own concern, based on past experiences and current situation. However, one worry they all have in common is tenants. And here, we will talk specifically about them: the tenants in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, or AST. Additionally, the text discusses the problems that may occur with tenancy and how you can manage and solve them the best way possible – including tips on eviction regulation and more.
What is AST and What To Expect
An AST is the most common type of tenancy when someone rents a property from a letting agency or landlord. It is usually a fixed-term contract of 6 to 12 months. And, as usual, AST landlords are obligated to provide tenants with gas safety and energy performance certificates.
Additionally, unlike other types of tenancies, AST allows the landlord to evict a tenant without reason when following eviction procedures. They are extremely essential to avoid further problems. This includes protecting the tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme. Moreover, it also includes arranging a yearly gas safety check if there are any gas appliances, and carrying out repairs for which you are responsible.
Most information out there is for tenants and their rights, but many people don’t realise that landlords also face problems. Hopefully, you, as a landlord, won’t have to go through an experience that requires tenant eviction. In any case, you must be prepared for some situations that will defy the stereotypical concept that tenants are only profitable and harmless to your business.
What Types of Problems May Occur in an AST ?
- Tenants not paying, even longer than a month: This one is one of the most common issues landlords face. If tenants are not paying, you are surely losing some of the money you invested in the first place.
- Tenants claiming that they have no money: They are not paying or paying too late because they “have no money.” Of course, this can be true. But even if it is, you are not the one responsible for that. If the person has always been a good tenant and you feel like they are actually struggling, there are other ways to deal with that rather than eviction. For instance – finding a housemate.
- Tenants that are trying to benefit from your emotions: Lots of tenants out there pretend to be in a bad financial situation, just so that they don’t have to pay you. They might be claiming to have lost their jobs or even that a supporting relative is refusing to provide for them. Like the excuses above, they might be lying to make you feel bad and forgive the debt.
- Lack of respect for other tenants: Every AST has house rules, and tenants need to know all about them even before renting. However, some people start showing a lack of respect for the rules and the other tenants (like listening to loud music). Situations like that make it impossible to live in harmony.
- Lack of basic cleaning and taking care of the property: The property is yours, not the tenant’s – and they must understand that. If they are not caring for the property or are making any changes you have not approved, it can be a big problem.
- High repair costs, maintenance: Make sure to always check with the tenants the property’s situation. Some people care so poorly for the property that they might be making you lose money in maintenance and high repair costs.
- Not being able to evict the tenant: The strict eviction rules can make the whole process very difficult for you… Especially if there are no specific reasons for ending the contract. Specific reasons may be property damage and unpaid rent.
- Dealing with deep cleaning after the tenancy: This is a considerable problem in AST tenancies, especially the shorter ones (6 months). Some tenants do not have the habit of cleaning correctly and constantly. As a result, deep cleaning of the property after they leave is necessary.
- Constant tenant requirements: Of course, it is your responsibility if problems in gas or water supply occur, for example. However, some tenants feel like you are responsible for every aspect of their living experience. Unfortunately, it can take a lot of your time.
- Smoking in the property: Cigarette burns in carpets, fire hazard, yellow residue on walls and ceilings, strong odours… There are several cons in allowing tenants smoke. If you don’t want to face them, make sure there is a no smoking policy in the contract.
- Ignoring phone calls, messages, and visits: Tenants may decide they don’t want to talk with you, or even welcome you in their homes or rooms (your property). This is a huge problem since you technically cannot force entry, even if it is to make regular inspections.
- Tenants having an extra person in the room or property: a pretty common issue that landlords face. Even if the contract doesn’t allow more than one person living in the property/room, tenants can go rogue and invite their friend without letting you know.
We listed some problems you may face when renting an AST – yes, others may arise. Unfortunately, even if you are right, tenant eviction is not easy. You can even be considered guilty of harassing the tenant if you don’t follow the correct procedures.
You can’t do it straight away, for example, especially in the UK. There are strict procedures. The government says, for instance, that if you want the property back after the end of the fixed term or during a periodic tenancy, you must give the tenant the Section 21 notice at least two months ahead. However, with COVID-19, some of the regulation has changed.
If the tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy previously established, give them the Section 8 notice of seeking possession. It has to be between 2 weeks and two months ahead of eviction (COVID-19 has also impacted this regulation).
Read more about Section 21 and Section 8, and how COVID-19 has impacted them.
Can I Avoid Such Problems?
Of course, tenants are people, which are unpredictable. However, there three main things that you can do to avoid bad AST tenants:
- Hire a professional HMO and property management company. With more experience and expertise to make background checks, they will help you to solve problems.
- Perform numerous inspections yourself. Things such as checking payslips before renting the property, credit score, and income source will give you more security.
Consider changing your property from HMO to, for instance, Serviced Accommodation. It is almost always the perfect solution to struggling landlords.
- If you want more tips related to SA and HMOs, or if you are interested in hiring a property management company, check our blog and services! We can provide you with a stress-free renting experience deep-rooted in legislation’s best practices.