8:01 AM, 21st November 2022, About A year ago 1
As a landlord, would you know what to do if a tenant said they are leaving a tenancy immediately because of a ghost in your property? Or how to deal with a tenant who hoards rubbish?
These, and a lot of other questions, are answered by Gina Peters in her new book ‘Lettings Law for Property Professionals‘.
Gina, who works for the law firm Dutton Gregory as its head of landlord and tenant in the Chandler’s Ford office, told Property118.com: “This is my voice on these pages and it’s all my personal little nuances and experiences.”
She said: “The book isn’t written solely for landlords, but ‘Property Professionals’ is a way to big people up in the lettings industry because it’s not an easy game.
“Most questions are related to notices, such as, what notice should I be serving? How do I serve it? When does the notice expire?”
Gina added: “Often, landlords aren’t aware of the rules that could trip them up.
“Anything related to the interpretation of a tenancy clause or actually putting something in that is quite unique to your scenario might cause problems.
“There’s also the changing of tenants. For example, what happens with a house in multiple occupation that is rented to students when a tenant moves out?
“The landlord might think, ‘Oh no, what am I going to do with the four remaining tenants in there now? How are they going to like it if I simply bring somebody else in?
“That bit is where they sometimes trip up.”
Gina added: “There’s also what to do when a tenant dies naturally or in suspicious circumstances. It’s really commonplace and, regrettably, it’s getting worse because, of course, we all know that the suicide rate is going up.”
She explains: “A lot of people just think that a tenancy ends when a tenant dies, but it doesn’t. Not even if they haven’t written a will.
“The tenant’s estate becomes vested in the personal representatives, as at this stage we don’t usually know whether they’ve got a will or not or whether, in extreme cases, they even have any relations in which case the procedure can become protracted
“So, I’ve tackled what they should be doing if that does happen, and also if they end up in a scenario where a tenant is murdered, for example. That kind of death is really shocking, but it can happen, and landlords sometimes find out from reading it in the press!”
The publication of ‘Lettings Law for Property Professionals’ is the result of a long-held ambition to write a book using Gina’s legal expertise and the upcoming retirement of a colleague led her to sit down to put her 21 years of property law experience onto paper.
She used the most common questions she gets asked, and the result is a helpful, easy-to-read reference book.
Readers will soon be aware that Gina has had to deal with a wide range of questions – including a landlord with a haunted property.
If this affects you, Gina says you don’t have to put this ghoulish fact into a tenancy agreement, unless you want to if you have a renowned haunted property for let which may affect the quiet enjoyment of the tenant!
There’s also the rather sobering issue of landlords who are faced with a tenant who is a hoarder.
Gina explains: “Tenants who hoard is becoming a terrible problem for landlords. It’s a mental disorder, a recognised disability, and sensitivity is required in a difficult situation.”
She points out that her book works well for agents and other property professionals and says many landlords and agents get caught up in adding clauses to a tenancy agreement when they aren’t necessary.
That is because, she says, a lot of law relating to residential tenancies is implied so there is no need to add pages of clauses and rules.
Gina explains: “The book deals with this a little bit. It’s not dealing with how to draft a tenancy agreement, but it is trying to explain the basis of the complications that come with tenancy agreements.
“There are many good tenancy agreements out there and, I think, some agents, perhaps even some landlords get really caught up in trying to take the contract as far as possible.
“So, it goes into pages and pages of special clauses, and in some cases, it is needed. In other cases, it’s perhaps going overboard.
“I see in tenancy agreements the whole of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act and all the grounds set out and the specifics to those grounds all detailed in almost an entire page of the tenancy agreement. It’s not needed and can be done much more simply.
“You do have to mention that if a tenant breaches the tenancy, the landlord can seek to forfeit to enable you to rely on section 8 as you cannot strictly forfeit an assured residential lease.
“However, you do not need to quote the provisions because the Housing Act applies to this type of tenancy agreement anyway.”
Gina is also pleased that her book became a bestseller on Amazon on pre-orders alone and then reached the number 1 bestseller spot in Business Law upon publication earlier this month.
She says writing the book was enjoyable and rewarding and hopes that property professionals will find it very useful.
She adds: “The book is for those who, at some point in the lettings process are worried about something that they think, ‘I should know this’, or ‘I just want to check this’, or even that they don’t know what to do next.
“And that’s what I’m trying to capture. There is so much legislation governing this area that you will have questions.”
She added: “It’s natural and in no way a failure. Nobody’s judging anybody by all the questions that are being asked.
“But they have to know what the right thing is to do to reduce the pain that their tenants are causing, or the stress or the cost.”
The book is available from various on-line booksellers, including Amazon, and is on sale now.
If you would like to win a copy of Gina’s ‘Lettings Law for Property Professionals’, then answer this question by no later than Friday 16 December 2022 when the draw will be made:
“If you have a tenant who is now in two months’ rent arrears what are the grounds to rely upon in your section 8 notice?”
Send your answers to email@example.com marked for the attention of Nikki Wright and be sure to provide your contact information to enable us to notify you if you are a winner!