Confessions of a novice landlord...
Apologies before i start, i'm trying to keep this post brief but i want to give a full picture so it may be longish....
I became a landlord in Nov 2014. I have a 3 bedroom semi-detached property where i used to live but decided to rent out rather than sell when i moved in with my partner. I used an estate agent to find me a tenant and they they drew up the initial AST. They found me a young family within a week who were very keen. I had the gas safety check done and registered the deposit with the DPS. I decided to manage the let myself.
All went well for the first few months although it wasn't long before i was asked if they could pay me late one month. Then another. This continued until i was visiting to do a property inspection in spring 2015, which she had cancelled several times before, and while i was there she told me that Mr had moved out in early 2015. She was now on her own with a young daughter. The rent after this was sometimes a few days or weeks late but always arrived in the end. Another partner then moved at the end of 2015 so i drew up another AST for them both in Jan 2016. The rent was paid on time while he was there as i changed the payment dates to 4 weekly to match his wages and this seemed to help.
To bring this up-to-date, her partner moved out a few months ago but again she didn't tell me until a few months ago. She contacted me in early July to ask to delay the rent payment for 3 weeks which i reluctantly agreed to. She hasn't paid it though and although she has told me she will pay 'some' it is obvious that's it as far as the rent goes. She communicates by text now and again. She makes me promises that she doesn't keep. She keeps thanking me for being understanding although i am getting very frustrated. She has texted me today to say she has looked at a couple of properties and will be going to the council to discuss rehousing although she told me this last week too.
In hindsight i should have joined a landlord's association initially as i may have made some mistakes. When i did a new contract i didn't change the details with the DPS so it's still in her husband's name. I didn't didn't get her to sign the tenants checklist which i understand is now a requirement although i have provided all the information required.
I issued a section 21 on 1st Aug. I printed it off here and posted it by hand and got photos showing me putting it through he letterbox. Two months without rent though and she's also told me the patio door has been damaged. I asked her to get an incident number so hopefully this will be covered by the insurance less the excess. I have a suspicion that she wasn't broken into but instead she or her partner damaged it.
I hold my hands up that i have made some mistakes which may mean a section 21 might be difficult to enforce but I've now learnt a lot and joining here has been very useful, especially the helpline. I'm just a bit frustrated that i will be down by several thousand pounds and might have difficulty recovering any of the rent because the paperwork isn't 100% and she probably doesn't have the money to pay me. Also, the council might advise her to stay put for the whole 2 months.
My reason for posting though isn't just to whinge but instead just to share my experience and ask for any comments both good and bad, from more experienced landlords. Is this normal, have i made any obvious mistakes or is it just part and parcel of renting, you take the rough with the smooth? The biggest dilemna i have is whether to be understanding about late rent payments and poor communication from your tenant or whether to throw the book at them at the first sign of a breach? Also, if she asks me for reference do i be honest and remain stuck with her for longer or lie which doesn't seem fair on the next landlord she messes about?
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