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  • FIRST POST
    • greendoor665
    • By greendoor665 18th Sep 17, 11:50 PM
    • 50Posts
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    greendoor665
    My friend, the amateur landlord
    • #1
    • 18th Sep 17, 11:50 PM
    My friend, the amateur landlord 18th Sep 17 at 11:50 PM
    A friend of mine is going travelling for 4 months and has decided to rent out his flat while he does it. He is intending for the tenant to remain in the flat while he is away and more or less move straight back in when he gets back. He is handling everything himself and found the tenant on gumtree. He has given the tenant a 4 month contract, presumably using a template he found on the internet.When he told me this it straight away set off alarm bells in my head, as I have read numerous posts on here about the various rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. I'm right in thinking that a section 21 cannot be issued to expire before 6 months is up, even if the contract is shorter, yes? Therefore anything less than a 6 month contract is meaningless?

    This tenant told my friend he is from overseas and is here on a short term contract. After viewing the flat, he was desperate to get my friend to take him as a tenant, even though my friend had other viewings lined up. My friend was worried as the last time he let the flat out the tenant left without paying the last 2 months rent and left some damage - he told the prospective new tenant this and the new tenant offered to pay the deposit and entire months rent up front in cash, so my friend accepted him as a tenant. I later found out that the new tenant ended up only giving him one month's rent plus the deposit (which is only half a month's rent!), promising to pay the rest next month. The flat is fully furnished and my friend is leaving his brand new fairly expensive TV in it for the tenant to use but has removed his other possessions.

    I started asking a few questions like has he given him the government right to rent booklet (no) or EPC (no). No gas certificate as flat is electric only. He hasn't got landlord insurance yet. My friend has no grasp of basic tenancy law and hasn't really considered what will happen if the tenant doesn't leave for some reason. I asked him what would happen if the tenant doesn't leave and explained how he would need to serve a section 21 and then go to court in the worst case scenario. Oh well he said, at least I will still be getting the rent. I then explained t him how the tenant could stop paying and this would still be the case. Oh well he says, I have a key. I then had to explain to him that the tenant could legally change the locks, and that even if he didn't, using the key for anything other than pre-warned inspections or emergency maintenance could mean my friend is breaking the law rather than the tenant.

    I didn't check this with him when I spoke to him yesterday but I would bet he hasn't protected the deposit or given the tenant an address to serve notices on in England and Wales, so there are a numerous reasons that he cannot legally serve a section 21. I doubt if he even checked his tenant's ID so he could be anyone, and he probably hasn't checked their immigration status. I'm not sure if he's done a full inventory and check in report with him either. I don't know if he has consent to let from his mortgage provider, and he's definitely not declaring this income to HMRC...

    I tried to warn my friend twice that he was not complying with the requirements of being a landlord and this could come back to bite him, but he was not that bothered. His attitude seems to be this guy will pay his mortgage and a bit extra while he's away. My attitude is he has left himself wide open to this guy not paying him a penny more rent,living in his flat for free for many months and eventually (after a long protracted battle) leaving my friend with a damaged and TV-less flat!

    How screwed do you think he is? Having just re-read G_M's excellent guides, I think quite a bit!
Page 1
    • stator
    • By stator 19th Sep 17, 12:39 AM
    • 5,953 Posts
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    stator
    • #2
    • 19th Sep 17, 12:39 AM
    • #2
    • 19th Sep 17, 12:39 AM
    Well you can lead a horse to water and all that.

    I think you've certainly done everything a good friend would do, plus more.

    Anything that happens now is his fault. Perhaps get yourself a sleeping bag so that when your friend comes back in 4 months he can sleep on your floor until he gets his home back
    Changing the world, one sarcastic comment at a time.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 19th Sep 17, 12:55 AM
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    G_M
    • #3
    • 19th Sep 17, 12:55 AM
    • #3
    • 19th Sep 17, 12:55 AM
    A friend of mine is going travelling for 4 months and has decided to rent out his flat while he does it. He is intending for the tenant to remain in the flat while he is away and more or less move straight back in when he gets back. He is handling everything himself and found the tenant on gumtree. He has given the tenant a 4 month contract, presumably using a template he found on the internet.When he told me this it straight away set off alarm bells in my head, as I have read numerous posts on here about the various rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. I'm right in thinking that a section 21 cannot be issued to expire before 6 months is up, even if the contract is shorter, yes? Therefore anything less than a 6 month contract is meaningless?
    Yes about the S21. But no it's not meaningless as the tenant is entitled to leave, without notice, after 4 months if that is the length of the tenancy.

    This tenant told my friend he is from overseas and is here on a short term contract. After viewing the flat, he was desperate to get my friend to take him as a tenant, even though my friend had other viewings lined up. My friend was worried as the last time he let the flat out the tenant left without paying the last 2 months rent and left some damage - he told the prospective new tenant this and the new tenant offered to pay the deposit and entire months rent up front (do you mean the entire 4 months tenancy?)in cash, so my friend accepted him as a tenant. I later found out that the new tenant ended up only giving him one month's rent plus the deposit (which is only half a month's rent!), promising to pay the rest next month. The flat is fully furnished and my friend is leaving his brand new fairly expensive TV in it for the tenant to use but has removed his other possessions.
    * yeah & presumably the deposit is not protected so the S21 will be invalid even after 6 months
    * was tenant credit vetted? References? etc? Don't answer - we get the picture!

    I started asking a few questions like has he given him the government right to rent booklet (no) or EPC (no). No gas certificate as flat is electric only. He hasn't got landlord insurance yet. My friend has no grasp of basic tenancy law and hasn't really considered what will happen if the tenant doesn't leave for some reason. I asked him what would happen if the tenant doesn't leave and explained how he would need to serve a section 21 and then go to court in the worst case scenario. Oh well he said, at least I will still be getting the rent. I then explained t him how the tenant could stop paying and this would still be the case. Oh well he says, I have a key. I then had to explain to him that the tenant could legally change the locks, and that even if he didn't, using the key for anything other than pre-warned inspections or emergency maintenance could mean my friend is breaking the law rather than the tenant.
    Well done. You've done all you can.

    I didn't check this with him when I spoke to him yesterday but I would bet he hasn't protected the deposit or given the tenant an address to serve notices on in England and Wales, so there are a numerous reasons that he cannot legally serve a section 21. I doubt if he even checked his tenant's ID so he could be anyone, and he probably hasn't checked their immigration status. I'm not sure if he's done a full inventory and check in report with him either. I don't know if he has consent to let from his mortgage provider, and he's definitely not declaring this income to HMRC...
    yup........

    I tried to warn my friend twice that he was not complying with the requirements of being a landlord and this could come back to bite him, but he was not that bothered. His attitude seems to be this guy will pay his mortgage and a bit extra while he's away. My attitude is he has left himself wide open to this guy not paying him a penny more rent,living in his flat for free for many months and eventually (after a long protracted battle) leaving my friend with a damaged and TV-less flat!

    How screwed do you think he is? Having just re-read G_M's excellent guides, I think quite a bit!
    Originally posted by greendoor665
    This could end one of 3 ways.

    * all will be well. Your friend will return, the tenant will leave, the mortgage will be paid, some extra cash earned on top, no damage will be done and HMRC, the mortgage lender, the insurer etc will never find out

    * the tenant will vanish back overseas at some point, perhaps after 4 months, perhaps before or after, owing rent and leaving damage. The insurers will reject the claim for 'accidental damage'. The lender will find out ad increase the mortgage rate plus charge a fee for compulsory switch to BTL mortgage, and HMRC will come sniffing around

    * your friend will return. The tenant will refuse to leave and change the locks. Your friend will, eventually, realise he needs a S21 and will serve one. The tenant will get it dismissed in court for any one of countless reasons (as you point out) and your friend will be sleeping on your floor for at least 6 months after returning
    .

    But beyond advising him, and referring him to this or some oher source of information, there is little you can do.
    • csgohan4
    • By csgohan4 19th Sep 17, 7:15 AM
    • 4,129 Posts
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    csgohan4
    • #4
    • 19th Sep 17, 7:15 AM
    • #4
    • 19th Sep 17, 7:15 AM
    OP your friend wants his cake and eat it, let hope for his sake, he doesn't end up with egg on his face


    You've done all you can, he/she are a grown adult so they have to take responsibility for their actions if it goes wrong
    "It is prudent when shopping for something important, not to limit yourself to Pound land"
    • cjdavies
    • By cjdavies 19th Sep 17, 7:24 AM
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    cjdavies
    • #5
    • 19th Sep 17, 7:24 AM
    • #5
    • 19th Sep 17, 7:24 AM
    Oh well you tried, bad as it sounds if he does none if it, I hope the tenent knows their rights more and when the time comes uses it.
    • deannatrois
    • By deannatrois 19th Sep 17, 8:21 AM
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    deannatrois
    • #6
    • 19th Sep 17, 8:21 AM
    • #6
    • 19th Sep 17, 8:21 AM
    I'm afraid sometimes humans only learn by getting burned. I'm afraid your friend seems to be one of these.

    You've tried your best.

    Its frustrating but I don't see what else you can do.
    • greendoor665
    • By greendoor665 19th Sep 17, 8:50 AM
    • 50 Posts
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    greendoor665
    • #7
    • 19th Sep 17, 8:50 AM
    • #7
    • 19th Sep 17, 8:50 AM
    Can't seem to get quote to work on my mobile but yes G_M, I meant the entire 4 month tenancy.

    As one last try I am going to send him an email with a list of things he needs to do to protect himself and links to back it up. Our last conversation was after a few beers just before he left the country so perhaps an email which he can read while sober may wake him up to the facts.

    He is a nice guy and very generous, but overly optimistic and too trusting of strangers. He likes to think of himself as a risk taker and he usually gets away with it, however I think he's gone too far this time! I think there is a certain class of tenant out there who specifically looks out for amateur landlords like my friend to exploit. My friend probably told the tenant he was going travelling so the tenant will know his power is limited.

    My friends has now left the country and the tenant is in the flat, but it's not too late to fix most of the issues. My friends' parents live nearby and they could potentially help him and post letters etc. It's their house he'll be living in if he comes back and can't use his flat, not mine!

    I should also mention that this friend is recently married and his wife was also living in the flat with him (they have gone travelling together) Knowing her, she would be very upset if what she probably views as their home is occupied and/or ruined by a stranger when they get back.

    It could all end well for him anyway, in which case I will look like a grumpy rule-following pessimist, but I feel like it's my duty as a friend to warn him!
    • frugalmacdugal
    • By frugalmacdugal 19th Sep 17, 9:06 AM
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    frugalmacdugal
    • #8
    • 19th Sep 17, 9:06 AM
    • #8
    • 19th Sep 17, 9:06 AM
    Hi,

    another scenario is that the tenant sell all the furniture telling buyers that he is moving back home again, and the your friend comes home to an empty flat, and possibly a broken marriage.
    Y'all take care now.
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 19th Sep 17, 9:32 AM
    • 5,662 Posts
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    eddddy
    • #9
    • 19th Sep 17, 9:32 AM
    • #9
    • 19th Sep 17, 9:32 AM
    He has given the tenant a 4 month contract, presumably using a template he found on the internet.

    ...

    This tenant told my friend he is from overseas and is here on a short term contract.
    Originally posted by greendoor665
    Are you sure the contract was an AST and not a Holiday Letting Agreement?

    With a holiday let your friend might still be breaking a few rules, but the Guest would have no tenant's rights.

    (e.g. Subject to not breaching the letting agreement, your friend could enter the flat at any time and ask the guest to leave.)

    And presumably the 'Overseas Contractor' has a primary residence back in his home country.


    Obviously, there's still the risk that the 'Guest' has told a pack of lies, and isn't an 'Overseas Contractor', etc, etc - in order to get into your friend's flat (like AirBnB guests who are really just burglars).

    But hopefully, your friend got references from his UK employer, perhaps from the overseas agency that sent him etc, to check his story.
    • ACG
    • By ACG 19th Sep 17, 10:17 AM
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    ACG
    I had 2 tenants in a property I let out:
    1) Not too bad, bit of a PITA calling for daft reasons but burnt the carpet with an iron. When he left I billed him for it. He told me it was there when he moved in. I then sent him a copy of the receipt showing it had been fitted the day before he moved in - why would I have an iron in a house I do not live in? He backed down and paid it.

    2) In the cellar, she made a hole in the wall for ventilation for the cannabis farm she had going on. She replaced the carpet with crap laminate flooring (without permission), she did the shoddiest painting job in 2 rooms I have ever come across and then left without telling me. Thankfully I was only out of pocket by about £500 - new carpet, paining and replacing 4 bricks.

    It was at that point I realised being a landlord was not for me. People just do not give a ***t about other peoples property.

    Both of these people were credit checked, paid a deposit, had decent jobs (the cannabis lady worked for a solicitors and had 2 young kids!).

    I think your friend is going to learn a very valuable (and expensive) lesson in 6 months time. I assume he has not watched nightmare tenants and slum landlords? That could be a bit of an eye opener for him.
    I am a Mortgage Adviser
    You should note that this site doesn't check my status as a mortgage adviser, so you need to take my word for it. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Mortgage Adviser Code of Conduct. Any posts on here are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as financial advice.
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 19th Sep 17, 10:54 AM
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    Guest101
    Are you sure the contract was an AST and not a Holiday Letting Agreement?

    With a holiday let your friend might still be breaking a few rules, but the Guest would have no tenant's rights.

    (e.g. Subject to not breaching the letting agreement, your friend could enter the flat at any time and ask the guest to leave.)

    And presumably the 'Overseas Contractor' has a primary residence back in his home country.


    Obviously, there's still the risk that the 'Guest' has told a pack of lies, and isn't an 'Overseas Contractor', etc, etc - in order to get into your friend's flat (like AirBnB guests who are really just burglars).

    But hopefully, your friend got references from his UK employer, perhaps from the overseas agency that sent him etc, to check his story.
    Originally posted by eddddy


    Just because it says holiday agreement, doesn't make it a holiday agreement......
    • greendoor665
    • By greendoor665 19th Sep 17, 11:41 AM
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    greendoor665
    Interesting point about the holiday agreement. I should think my friend just gave him a standard AST but without seeing the document I don't know. I'd ask him but I doubt he knows the difference!

    As far as I know he didn't get any references or contact the tenant's employer.

    The tenant selling the furniture was another possibility I considered...
    Last edited by greendoor665; 19-09-2017 at 11:42 AM. Reason: typos
    • fairy lights
    • By fairy lights 19th Sep 17, 11:54 AM
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    fairy lights
    As one last try I am going to send him an email with a list of things he needs to do to protect himself and links to back it up. Our last conversation was after a few beers just before he left the country so perhaps an email which he can read while sober may wake him up to the facts.
    Originally posted by greendoor665
    I wouldn't bother. If neither him or his wife could be arsed to do any research beforehand then I doubt they'll be sensible enough to try and do anything now.
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 19th Sep 17, 11:58 AM
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    Guest101
    Interesting point about the holiday agreement. I should think my friend just gave him a standard AST but without seeing the document I don't know. I'd ask him but I doubt he knows the difference!

    As far as I know he didn't get any references or contact the tenant's employer.

    The tenant selling the furniture was another possibility I considered...
    Originally posted by greendoor665
    It doesn't matter.


    The court would look at the wider implications.


    e.g. the landlord has registered with the council and pays business rates, advertises the property as a holiday let - basically runs a real business.


    It would quickly be obvious that this wasn't the case.
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 19th Sep 17, 11:59 AM
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    eddddy
    Just because it says holiday agreement, doesn't make it a holiday agreement......
    Originally posted by Guest101
    Yep.

    And like I say - just because he says he's an 'overseas contractor' doesn't mean he's an 'overseas contractor'.

    He may be a rogue who intends to exploit the Housing Act and Protection from Eviction act to stay in the flat as long as possible.

    He may be a squatter who intends to move all his friends in, change the locks and barricade the door.

    He may be a terrorist who plans to make bombs in the flat. (If there's an explosion, many freeholders don't have terrorism insurance cover, so the OP's friend might be left owing millions in damages, for invalidating the freeholder's insurance).

    There are many, many possibilities!
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 19th Sep 17, 12:06 PM
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    Guest101
    Yep.

    And like I say - just because he says he's an 'overseas contractor' doesn't mean he's an 'overseas contractor'.

    He may be a rogue who intends to exploit the Housing Act and Protection from Eviction act to stay in the flat as long as possible. - exploit a legal right? Not sure how that works...

    He may be a squatter - how does that work if he's a tenant? who intends to move all his friends in - legally entitled to do that. , change the locks - legally entitled to do that.and barricade the door.- legally entitled to do that.

    He may be a terrorist who plans to make bombs in the flat. (If there's an explosion, many freeholders don't have terrorism insurance cover, so the OP's friend might be left owing millions in damages, for invalidating the freeholder's insurance). - by being foreign? Better ring my landlord up to let him know...

    There are many, many possibilities!
    Originally posted by eddddy
    There are, but a certainty is that he is a tenant, not a squatter, nor a guest.
    • Thrugelmir
    • By Thrugelmir 19th Sep 17, 12:11 PM
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    Thrugelmir

    My friends has now left the country and the tenant is in the flat, but it's not too late to fix most of the issues.
    Originally posted by greendoor665
    If the rent doesn't get paid and/or damage is caused. Then far too late.

    Hopefully the property won't be sublet either.........
    “Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble”
    ― Warren Buffett
    • csgohan4
    • By csgohan4 19th Sep 17, 6:10 PM
    • 4,129 Posts
    • 2,588 Thanks
    csgohan4
    I had 2 tenants in a property I let out:
    1) Not too bad, bit of a PITA calling for daft reasons but burnt the carpet with an iron. When he left I billed him for it. He told me it was there when he moved in. I then sent him a copy of the receipt showing it had been fitted the day before he moved in - why would I have an iron in a house I do not live in? He backed down and paid it.

    2) In the cellar, she made a hole in the wall for ventilation for the cannabis farm she had going on. She replaced the carpet with crap laminate flooring (without permission), she did the shoddiest painting job in 2 rooms I have ever come across and then left without telling me. Thankfully I was only out of pocket by about £500 - new carpet, paining and replacing 4 bricks.

    It was at that point I realised being a landlord was not for me. People just do not give a ***t about other peoples property.

    Both of these people were credit checked, paid a deposit, had decent jobs (the cannabis lady worked for a solicitors and had 2 young kids!).

    I think your friend is going to learn a very valuable (and expensive) lesson in 6 months time. I assume he has not watched nightmare tenants and slum landlords? That could be a bit of an eye opener for him.
    Originally posted by ACG
    Hope they left you some to make up for the damages. Hope your not too high
    "It is prudent when shopping for something important, not to limit yourself to Pound land"
    • greendoor665
    • By greendoor665 8th Jan 18, 1:45 PM
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    greendoor665
    Boring/uneventful update: my friend returned from travelling and the tenant moved out on the agreed date having paid in full and causing no damage other than 1 broken wine glass which he fully admitted to and offered to pay for...
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 8th Jan 18, 1:53 PM
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    Comms69
    Boring/uneventful update: my friend returned from travelling and the tenant moved out on the agreed date having paid in full and causing no damage other than 1 broken wine glass which he fully admitted to and offered to pay for...
    Originally posted by greendoor665
    9/10 this is the outcome. - just don't be that 1/10
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