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Properties

Damage to property is top cause of disputes

Damage to property is top cause of disputes

Over half of landlords in the UK say that damage to property is the top cause of disputes with tenants followed by decoration and then rent arrears.

New research from the Online Letting Agents found that 58% cited damage, 50% redecoration and 42% rent arrears and cleaning.

It also found that two thirds of landlords went to court to settle disputes and for 20% of landlords, the disputed amount was over £1,000.

The majority of landlords who experienced a dispute over rent arrears say that the average time of late payment was six weeks, while 20% had to wait over four months for payment of outstanding rent.

The research also shows that despite the importance of inventories in helping to solve disputes, a fifth of landlords admit to failing to carry out check-in and check-outs.

‘Our research shows that damage to property is a major problem for landlords during, or at the end of a tenancy and rent arrears remain a big problem,’ said Eleanor Carroll, director of the Online Letting Agents.

She found out that rising numbers of landlords are using the courts to resolve their disputes with recent figures from the Ministry of Justice showing that between January and March 2014, landlords in England and Wales went to court to make 47,220 claims to repossess property, the equivalent of 525 a day.

‘To help avoid disputes, it is vital that landlords carry out a professional inventory with a check-in and check-out at the start and end of a tenancy, to protect their property and deposit. What’s more, landlords should make regular visits to check for damage during the tenancy,’ added Carroll.

But going to court is not as simple as it might seem. Separate research shows that 62% of legal notices served by landlords on tenants were incorrect.

According to the study by Landlord Action trying to save costs by doing it yourself can be counterproductive as it means the action is at risk of being thrown out by the courts if it is not correct.

Paul Shamplina, managing director of Landlord Action, said that mistakes in eviction notices are among the most common reasons for delays and increased costs when a landlord tries to recover possession from a tenant who has an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).

‘I understand the need for landlords to consider every cost but I can’t stress enough that the notice is the most important part of a possession court case and the slightest mistake can end up costing a landlord significantly more than the cost savings in extra legal fees, delays and lost rent,’ he pointed out.

The study found the top five reasons for notices being invalidated are incorrect expiry dates, failure to comply with deposit legislation, inaccurate accompanying rent arrears schedules, the method used to serve the notice and typing errors.

‘Over the last year, we have encountered an increasing number of problems with notices served by landlords and agents. As a result, our legal department has carried out a full analysis of our last 200 cases, not only to get a true reflection of how common this is, but also to find out exactly what mistakes are being made. Unfortunately, some landlords and even agents are still making classic errors when drafting and serving notices,’ said Shamplina.

‘The worst case scenario for a landlord desperate to regain possession of a property is to be three months down the line and find they have to start the whole process all over again, costing them a small fortune in legal fees and lost rent. That’s why in cases where we are not instructed to draft the notices, we carry out a full health check on notices and legal paperwork before it is filed at court,’ he added.

Source: Property Wire




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