Residential Landlord and Tenant

ASTs and Corporate Lets

Most tenants in the UK occupy under Assured Shorthold Tenancies or ‘ASTs’. ASTs were established in 1989 in order to stimulate the buy-to-let investment market, by making it easy for landlords to bring short fixed tenancies to end when their fixed terms expired.  Prior to this, ‘Rent Act’ tenancies were highly regulated and it was very difficult for a landlord to recover possession.  However, in recent years, ASTs have undergone dramatic change, making it more difficult for landlords to recover possession.  Although the details are not yet certain, the government has announced that ASTs will soon be radically reformed taking us closer to the days of Rent Act tenancies.  However, not all tenancies are ASTs.  Lettings to companies and by resident landlords are less regulated and governed by common law principles.  There are also still some old Rent Act tenancies lurking in parts of London.  We advise clients on all manner of residential tenancies including ASTs, corporate lets and Rent Act tenancies and are watching the horizon vigilantly for the inevitable changes that are on the way.

We help private landlords, tenants and letting agents across the UK with contentious issues arising from short-term lets to individuals and corporates.  This is an increasingly complex area, currently undergoing radical reform and anything other than strict adherence to the rules can lead to fines, difficulties in recovering possession and even criminal liability.  Whether you are a landlord, tenant or letting agent we will guide you through the complex legal landscape and offer you clear, practical and timely advice.

Residential Possession Claims

Dealing with a tenant who doesn’t pay their rent, misuses your property or who allows third parties to move in without your permission can be frustrating, upsetting and time consuming.  Residential tenants are well protected by the law and it is unlawful to evict a tenant without a court order.  We are experts in the field and offer a simple three stage fixed fee eviction process to enable you to recover possession and get your property back on the market quickly.

Our lawyers have dealt with hundreds of possession claims and have seen it all – the renting of rooms on Airbnb by criminal gangs, properties being used as brothels, and actionable nuisance ranging from noisy pets, tenants smoking cigars on the balcony, loud parties, bass guitar vibrations and noisy sex.  All these things are in breach of the typical tenancy and can be grounds for possession or other enforcement action.

Regulatory Compliance

Residential lettings are becoming increasingly regulated and it very easy to fall foul of the requirements, leading to fines, difficulties in recovering possession and even criminal liability.  Whether you are a landlord, tenant or letting agent we will guide you through the complex legal landscape and offer you clear, practical and timely advice.  The introduction of a plethora of new legislation, together with a number of controversial county court decisions and untested points of law are causing confusion.  The service of a s21 notice for example, which used to be a straightforward matter, is now fraught with pitfalls for the unwary landlord or agent.  As well as advising ‘after the event’ on compliance issues as they arise, we work with a number of letting agents to help them devise effective systems to limit the risk of compliance issues.

Tenant Deposits

There are strict requirements governing the handling of tenant deposits and the amounts that can be held.   Failure to comply with these requirements can make it difficult to lawfully terminate a tenancy and can expose both landlords and letting agents to financial penalties and ‘strict liability’ claims by tenants for compensation of up to triple the deposit.  We regularly advise landlords, tenants and agents on compliance with these rules and the issues arising where they are breached.

Housing Disrepair

Most short-term tenancies require landlords to keep their property in repair.  There are also statutory obligations requiring rented accommodation to be fit for human habitation and for the provision of hot water and heating.  Quite rightly, most landlords have to ensure that basic safety measures are in place such as working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detector and up to date gas safety certificates.  We assist tenants in forcing errant landlords to put their house in order and, where a tenant has had no option but to move out, to recover compensation for them.

Rent recovery

It is important for landlords to keep a close eye on arrears before they get out of hand.  Where arrears are an issue, most landlords will choose to serve a possession notice to incentivise payment.  However for those landlords who are concerned about difficulties re-letting the property, we can assist them in recovering rent arrears during the tenancy without terminating the tenancy.  Where a tenant moves out at the end of a tenancy with arrears, without leaving any forwarding address (and perhaps moving overseas) it can be tempting to write off the debt.  We can trace former tenants and guarantors worldwide, obtain judgment in the UK and enforce either in the UK against UK based assets or overseas.

Letting agent claims

Letting agents are often in the firing line in relation to the management of deposits, perceived professional negligence or the charging of renewal commissions.   Sometimes agents are included as Defendants in court proceedings by tenants simply because they are holding a deposit and to ensure they are bound by the court’s decision against the landlord.  We act on behalf of letting agents, landlords and tenants in relation to these matters.