Stick to the Letter of the Law Rather than Abuse

Stick to the Letter of the Law Rather than Abuse

16:57 PM, 11th January 2012, About 13 years ago

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Responsible landlords are investors and business people who should present a ‘professional’ face to their tenants and letting agents.

Not only are there harassment and equality laws designed to stop some of the more outrageous dealings perpetrated by landlords caught up in a spiraling web of anger, but the courts look badly on bullies who do not follow the rules.

The first problem is negotiating face-to-face or on the phone about property problems or rent arrears.

The tenant is not a professional and is not expected to take the heat out of disagreements. They often feel victimised or unfairly treated because of something a landlord often has not done – like carrying out a repair.

Any experienced solicitor will confine negotiations to letters because it’s easy to see what both sides have said and provides an audit of the problem.

The same goes for handling disputes with suppliers, councils and official bodies – write to someone at the top as remarks on the phone are not always recorded on a file.

Here are some good points to consider when writing a letter:

  • You may think they are a crook, but don’t accuse them – it is one way of ratcheting up the angry tone of their response.
  • Send a tenant a statement breaking down their account to show any arrears or ask someone else for their breakdown. Checking the calculation is easier and it’s easier to point out an error.
  • Don’t make threats you are not prepared to follow – They undermine your position and makes you look foolish when you can’t follow through
  • Check your spelling and grammar – Poor lay out, spelling and CAPITALS in the wrong place can make letters look amateurish
  • Don’t rubbish what the other person has to say – go through their letter point by point and answer their comments
  • Ignore unnecessarily emotive claims by the other side – it’s them who will look bad if the matter goes to court and the paper trail shows you have acted professionally and without anger
  • Don’t get personal – most disputes involve money or the lack of it, so keep to the point
  • Reasonable people who make their point dispassionately are more likely to carry the day than those who try to bully or shout down the arguments of others.

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