A lettings agency has identified the three most complained-about issues by tenants last year.
All the tenants were in Greater London and their grips were - 35 per cent regarding property condition; 21 per cent about how previous complaints were handled; and 10 per cent about anti-social behaviour.
Graeme Goessen, management services director at JOHNS&CO, says: “Landlords have a duty of care when managing a property and are obligated to make sure that they respond in a timely manner to a justified complaint raised by a tenant. Should a tenant wish to take their complaint further, mediation from a landlord with the intent to resolve matters amicably is absolutely essential to avoid the tenant escalating to the property ombudsman and seeking compensation.
“A complaint may provide differing opinions from both parties, however it is imperative as a landlord when liaising with the tenant to remain professional throughout all discussions and responses. An understanding and positive attitude, while understanding the impact this has had on the tenant, will enable you to successfully resolve the issue and ultimately keep the tenant happy”.
Goessen urges landlords in London to be pro-active in handling tenant issues, such as property conditions.
“During the tenancy a landlord must send a contractor in a timely manner when required to repair the condition of the property. Any delay in doing so could result in a tenant becoming unhappy and ultimately looking to take matters further.
“A landlord should read and understand the obligations set out in their tenancy agreements and be ready to repair and urgently maintain the priority issues, i.e. no heating/hot water, no electricity, damp/mould, etc. Failure to act on such matters and following up to resolve any repair will result in the tenant submitting a complaint.”
Goessen says that in regard to anti-social behaviour: “Excessive noise, environmental health, and drug related issues to name a few are just some examples of potential anti-social behaviour that landlords may have to deal with at some point”.
“During the first exchanges, a landlord must attempt to make a friendly approach and draw their attention to the tenancy agreement as the tenant will often not be aware of how their behaviour is causing such an issue. Should those initial attempts fail and ASB continues, point out the clause in the tenancy agreement and explain that if this behaviour continues they could be evicted. Document all complaints and details of the incident(s) and keep a record of all conversations.
“If your reasoning seems to not be helping and there is clear evidence of the problems continuing, you should send a warning letter to your tenants. The letter should include: which tenancy condition has been breached, how occupiers have broken them, what they should do to prevent further action being taken, and the consequences of continuing to breach tenancy conditions.
“If the behaviour is continuing after all reasonable attempts, you now need to consider taking action to get your tenants to leave by serving them with a Notice and applying to court for a Possession Order. A Section 21 Notice - you do not have to prove anything, or show any evidence of the tenant having caused any problems, or a Section 8 notice - In the case of anti-social behaviour, Grounds 12 and 14 are the most likely – you will need to have clear evidence of such behaviour to evict under these grounds. It also advisable to obtain advice from a reputable property management agency”.
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