Here is a question to the blog clinic from Mike who is a landlord with hmo tenants
I have a couple who have recently moved into a HMO flat and are 1 month into their 6 month AST.
There have been numerous noise (shouting and crashing) complaints already and now we have an accusation of assault on another tenant in the building (being dealt with by the police)
What would be the best course of action regarding notice/warnings… rights with issuing notice seeing they are in contract still, but are breaking terms of tenancy agreement with behaviour.
This is always a difficult problem and shows how important it is to take enormous care in the choice of tenant in the first place. Particularly with an HMO when the behaviour of your tenants will impact on others in the building.
Indeed, a bad HMO tenant can cost you dear as it can result in other tenants deciding to move out.
Difficult HMO tenants – the only real solution:
The big problem is that, practically, there is nothing you can do about it other than take steps to evict the tenants after the end of the term.
Realistically even if you are able to issue proceedings within a few days of the fixed term ending, it is going to take you six to eight weeks (maybe more) to get your order for possession.
Then, if the tenants fail to move out, you will have to get a bailiff’s appointment which can take up to six to eight weeks (sometimes longer in busy courts).
So if your tenant refuses to move out until then (which is their right), they are going to be in the property a long time.
As it is going to be quite some time before you can even start this process, you will have to try initially to see if you can sort it some other way.
So try meeting with the tenants and talking to them about their behaviour, explaining to them that, long term, this is going to make it difficult for them find somewhere else to live. as you will not be able to renew their tenancy or give them a good reference when they leave.
This may make them think twice.
You also need to make sure that there is nothing which is going to affect your right to serve a section 21 notice. So –
- If they paid a deposit, has it been properly protected and the prescribed information served?
- As this is an HMO, do you need an HMO license and if so, have you got one?
If there are issues with either of these it will mean that you will not be able to use section 21 until the issues are resolved.
For landlords reading this article after 1 October 2015, there will be other pre-conditions (which I am not going to discuss here).
So far as the section 21 notice itself is concerned,
- you need to be sure that it is properly drafted (after 1 October there is likely to be a prescribed form) and
- that you are able to prove that you have served it (so don’t just send it off by ordinary post – ideally deliver it by hand with an independent witness).
Other court proceedings
‘But’, you may be saying,’surely the Housing Act has grounds which you can use to evict tenants who behave badly which could be used to evict these tenants before their fixed term ends?’
Well yes, there are, but they are ‘discretionary’ grounds. This means that
- The tenants are entitled to put in a defence challenging your claim
- This will almost certainly mean that you will not get your possession order at the original hearing date which will be adjourned to a full trial
- This will result in a long drawn-out case
- Which could be very expensive if you use solicitors, and
- Your chances of getting the tenants out of the property within a reasonable time is remote, as
- Even if the Judge does eventually award a possession order (which is by no means certain) he will almost certainly suspend it on terms
What all this means is that you will probably be better off waiting to bring proceedings under section 21 – where, as section 21 is a ‘mandatory ground’, the tenants will have limited grounds to defend and the Judge is not allowed to suspend the order for more than 6 weeks after the order is made.
Prevention is the best cure
As I said at the start, this just goes to show how vital it is to make sure that bad tenants never get into your properties in the first place.
If you are an HMO landlord – what do you do when you find you have let in an unsatisfactory tenant?