The amount of rent you charge is up to you but it should be reasonable, based on the size and condition of the property. Remember that if it is not in line with rents being charged for similar properties in the area you are unlikely to attract a tenant.
Rents and Bonds
The financial aspect of renting a property is the most important to a Landlord. The following information gives advice to ensure that you are operating within the law and you receive the right amount of rent.
What is Local Housing Allowance
Local Housing Allowance arrangements set the maximum amount of Housing Benefit that can be awarded to a household based on the size of property (i.e. the number of bedrooms) they need. The rates are set locally and are published by local authorities. If the amount of rent you charge is higher than the local housing allowance entitlement of the household renting your property, they will be responsible for paying the difference.
Can I keep the bond myself until the tenant moves on?
Since 6th April 2007 it has been a legal requirement for all deposits (for rent up to £25,000 per annum) taken by landlords or letting agents for assured shorthold tenancies to be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. There are three schemes available, two of which are insurance-based and which allow the landlord to keep the deposit as long as they pay a premium to the scheme, and one custodial scheme which holds the bond on behalf of the landlord (free of charge) until the end of the tenancy.
Remember: You must give the tenant details about how their deposit has been protected within 14 days of receiving it. Failing to protect a bond/deposit can result in court action and a requirement to repay the bond and a fine of 3 times the amount of the bond. It may also mean that you may not be able to gain possession of property at the end of the tenancy. For more information about tenancy deposit protection visit Directgov.
The Government has revised the penalty rules which apply if you fail to comply with the statutory requirements when you take a deposit from a tenant. the new rules are to come into force on the 6th April 2102. They will affect deposits which you are already holding if you have not already complied with the existing requirements. They apply to all new deposits as well.
IMMEDIATE ACTION is needed NOW if you are NOT compliant.
The new rules mean:
- Deposits under assured shorthold tenancies must be protected within 30 days of receipt (14 days at present)
- The tenant/s (and anyone else paying towards the deposit e.g. a parent) must be given the prescribed information within 30 days of you receiving the deposit. N.B. This is not just a copy of the official receipt that you will receive from the scheme administrator (see below). You must give the tenant/s (and anyone else paying towards the deposit) a copy of the relevant schemes tenants leaflet as well.-Failure to comply within the new 30 day time limit means you could have to pay a penalty of between one and three times the amount of the deposit. There is no provision allowing any extension of time.
- If you fail to protect the deposit within the 30 day time limit once it applies you cannot use a Section 21 notice to evict the tenant as long as you are holding the deposit, unless there has been a Court Order dealing with the penalty or the deposit has been returned. You can get your Section 21 rights back by returning the deposit in full. Alternatively, you can return it with deductions so long as the tenant/s agree these deductions.
- Assuming you have protected the deposit within 30 days but have not given the prescribed information within the 30 days allowed, you cannot serve a Section 21 notice to end the tenancy until the prescribed information has been given.
- Even if you get your Section 21 rights back as outlined above, you are still liable to pay a penalty if one is claimed.
- Penalties for non-compliance can now be claimed even once tenancies have ended so that former tenants can claim for up to six years and a claim can be made even if the deposit has been refunded (unless the tenancy has already come to an end no later than the start date in April 2012.
- The 30 day period starts on the day of receipt of the deposit. This day is included in working out the 30 day period (even if the tenancy starts later). The day the scheme notifies you that the protection is effective is the key date and, in the case of prescribed information, it is the date that it has actually given to the tenant/s (and any third party paying towards the deposit) which is crucial.
- Cleared funds may be needed in order to effectively protect the deposit whether to pay over the deposit itself or any fee required to protect it (depending on which scheme you use) so allow long enough for this and do not leave things to the last minute.
- The new rules will apply to deposits which you are already holding when they came into force. You will be allowed 30 days period of grace from the start date to protect these deposits and/or give the prescribed information if you have not already done so. Failure to comply could mean the new penalty/Section 21 rules will apply in the same way as they do with new deposits.
Long term empty properties (empty for more than six months), can cause significant problems within our communities and is a wasted resource for the owner. There are currently around 1000 such properties in Conwy and the Council has published a strategy to encourage owners of empty property to bring them back into use.
Will Housing Benefit be paid direct to me?
Housing Benefit is generally paid direct to the tenant who is then responsible for paying the rent. However in certain circumstances, for instance if there are substantial rent arrears or if the tenant is likely to have difficulty in managing their financial affairs, payment may be made direct to the landlord. Visit the Conwy County Borough Council website for more information or contact Conwy County Borough Council's Housing Benefit Team on 01492 576 491.
What if my tenant is struggling to manage?
Support can be provided to help people who are having difficulties with tenancy-related issues. Tenants in this situation should be advised to contact the Conwy Housing Solutions team, Advice Agencies or another professional such as their GP. Support and advice regarding a range of issues such as budgeting/debts, benefit claims and mental health/counselling can be provided.