Arla: Don't ignore small print of tenancy agreements

by Daniel Jones

Landlords need to ensure they use their tenancy agreement to make sure tenants are aware of their responsibilities with regards to looking after a property. With winter approaching and many rental properties likely to be left empty over Christmas, landlords will need to make sure tenants realise what their obligations are.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla) believes it is vital tenants know what is expected of them to avoid problems.

Ian Potter, operations manager at Arla, said: "Long-range predictions suggest that the UK is set for another harsh winter. Therefore, it would be pragmatic for tenants to consider ways to best prepare their property for cold spells. This is particularly important for those who will be leaving their rented home vacant during the holiday period.

"There are a few sensible steps that can be taken to ensure there are no unexpected problems over the winter period or any unwanted surprises when tenants return to their properties after a break."

First of all, landlords should ensure their tenants have read the small print of their tenancy agreement with regards to leaving a property empty, according to Arla. This highlights the way in which landlords can protect their properties by including a tenant requirement to take adequate measures to prevent problems such as frozen pipes in colder weather.

And while landlords can use a property inventory as a safeguard to loss or damage to furniture and other items, tenants should be made aware of their obligation to keep their flat or house secure while they are away. Locking windows and doors is a basic precaution, while landlords could invest in security timer lights to aid security.

The National Landlords Association recently revealed that last year saw a significant number of properties damaged by burst pipes because tenants were not told how to shut off the heating system. Landlords need to make sure tenants are shown how to shut off water to the property, especially if they will not be present over Christmas, it suggested.

Another essential for landlords is buy-to-let insurance, which will guard against malicious and accidental damage by the tenant and provide liability cover.

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Published on: November 28, 2011

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