Getting Possession of My Property

Speaking as a firm with many, many clients from the private rental sector, we understand how alarming it can be to feel like you cannot regain possession of your property from a troublesome tenant. As a landlord, it is crucially important for you to follow the correct legal procedures as you attempt to remove your tenant; if you fail to do so, they may be able to make a claim against you further down the line.
 
If you are trying to get possession of your property, here is a basic, 3-step guide to successfully doing so:
  1. First of all, you will need to serve the correct notice - usually a Section 8 or a Section 21 notice, depending on the circumstances. You will need to consult a solicitor, who will ensure that your notice is written and served in the proper manner.
  2. If the tenant fails to vacate your property within the period specified by your eviction notice, you will need to obtain a court order for possession. Again, the necessary documents should be drafted by a solicitor, who will know all about this process and ensure that the court order is obtained correctly.
  3. Once the court order has been served, your tenant will be legally obliged to vacate the property. If they fail to leave within a specified period, you can apply for bailiffs to evict the tenant for you.
If you are struggling to remove a tenant from your property, your first step should always be to consult a legal professional. Contact Newbold Solicitors today for informed advice from our expert housing law team.

Who Gets What in a Divorce?

Getting a divorce can be an incredibly difficult time both financially and emotionally. Reality is that unfortunately, actually filing for divorce is only the beginning, and it is afterwards when the tricky part comes - dividing your assets. Who gets what in a divorce? The answer to this question is actually pretty difficult to pinpoint because the court has an extremely broad discretion when deciding who gets what. 

 
There are no specific laws or rules about how any assets should be divided. There are also no rules regarding how much money should be paid to a spouse, wife or husband on an ongoing basis. The law will not penalise one party for bad behaviour and will only apportion blame in the most extreme of cases. In essence, the court divides assets as it sees fit, with each case having individual circumstances and consequently each case having an individual outcome. 
 
Primarily, the law tries to ensure that any children are provided for and properly looked after and that both parties of the divorce are provided for financially. The court takes a set of considerations into account from the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
 
They are as follows:
  1. The welfare of a child/children of the family
  2. The income, earning capacity, property and resources of each person.
  3. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of each person
  4. The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage 
  5. The age of each person and the duration of the marriage
  6. Any physical or mental disability 
  7. The contribution made by each party to the welfare of the family, including maintaining the home and bringing up children
  8. The conduct of each person, but only if it is bad enough that it would be unfair to ignore it
  9. Any serious disadvantage to either person which would be caused by ending the marriage 
The court will assess each of those criteria before making a decision and will consequently divide the assets accordingly. If you're getting a divorce then Newbold can offer expert legal advice and help support you through this difficult time. We also offer a range of fixed fee divorce packages to help eliminate the mounting financial worries during this period.

My Tenant Won't Pay Rent!

If you're a landlord and your tenant won't pay rent then this can quite obviously have a dramatic impact on your finances. The sad thing is that you are most definitely not alone - indeed, 32% of landlords have suffered from rent arrears in the last 12 months, according to the latest research by the National Landlords Association (NLA). The average amount of arrears amounts to over £1,600, which can leave a substantial gap in your finances if you haven't made allowances for it.

Rent arrears is one of the biggest risks faced by landlords on a daily basis, however, there are certain precautions which can be taken to avoid rent arrears dramatically impacting your finances. When relying on monthly income from a tenant you should always be seeking to minimise the risk of rent arrears at every possible opportunity. This means starting by vetting any potential tenants, carrying out background checks where appropriate and ensuring that their financial information is sound before allowing them to move in to your property.    
 
By building a good relationship with your tenants they are more likely to inform you that they may fall into arrears, giving you plenty of opportunity to sort the financial issues out as quickly as possible. You should also monitor all receipt of your rent. In your tenancy agreement you can outline details regarding payment including the date you should expect to receive your rent every month. If your tenant falls into arrears you can bring it up with them quickly but in a sensitive manner, remembering there can be a great deal of reasons why a tenant might fail to make a rent payment. 
 
Remember, our expert solicitors are always on hand to offer legal advice for landlords - if your tenant won't pay rent then Newbold Solicitors can help.

My Tenant Has Damaged My Property

As a landlord, it's easy to lose your cool when a tenant damages your property. But it's important to remain calm and handle the situation in the proper manner - after all, tenants have rights, and you don't want to face any legal action further down the line.
 
So, if your tenant has damaged your property, here are a few questions to ask before acting:
  • Who is responsible for the damaged item? Your tenant may not actually hold any responsibility for the issue in question; for example, the landlord is responsible for ensuring the safety of gas installations/appliances at all times, so if the boiler is malfunctioning or the cooker has stopped working, this is not the tenant's fault (unless the problem arose as a direct result of their negligence). As the landlord, you are obliged to arrange the necessary repairs yourself.
  • What does the tenancy agreement say? Check the contract that you and your tenant(s) signed when they first moved in - it may specifically address the situation at hand, and if it does, you are legally obliged to abide by the terms of this contract.
  • Should payment come out of the tenant's deposit? Tenants usually pay a deposit/bond when moving into a rental property. In theory, this money should be used to cover any damages caused by the tenant, but be careful - if you use the deposit to pay for damages that aren't your tenant's fault, this may land you in hot water when the tenant vacates your property and asks for the deposit money back.
If your property has been damaged - and you suspect that your tenant may be to blame - we recommend speaking to a solicitor before taking any action. Consulting a legal professional will ensure that you do not violate the rights of your tenant, and that the situation is resolved fairly and legally.
 
Click here to contact Newbold Solicitors, or visit our Advice for Landlords page for further details.

Man Stole Houses When Ex-Wife Died Without a Will

We've preached the importance of making a will before, and yesterday, we spotted a news story that deftly illustrated just what can happen if you don't.
 
Caernarfon Crown Court found Ian King, a 70-year-old divorcee with two sons, guilty of "obtaining property by deception" earlier this week. King's ex-wife, Dorothy King, committed suicide in early 2000, and her estate (valued at more than £111 thousand) passed to her ex-husband, who allegedly hid the fact that they had divorced one year prior.
 
Dorothy King died without a will, and while this fact alone cannot be blamed for her ex-husband's wrongful inheritance (without Ian King's act of deception, common law would have passed the estate to the sons of the deceased), having a will in place would have ensured that these extremely valuable properties were bequeathed to the right people.
 
Instead, Ian King spent 15 years reaping the benefits of properties to which he was not entitled. Justice has now been done, but sadly, there's no way for the two sons to reclaim the past decade and a half.
 
If you do not currently have a will, contact Newbold Solicitors today or click here to learn more about our will-writing services.
 

What are Grounds for Divorce?

If you want to get a divorce, you must show that there are good and solid reasons for ending your marriage. Before you file for a divorce, you must ensure your situation meets one of the 5 different grounds for a divorce, of which many people are unaware. Here are the 5 acceptable grounds for a divorce:
 
1. Adultery
If your partner had sexual relations with someone else of the opposite sex and you can no longer bear to live with them. Adultery is not a valid ground for divorce if you proceeded to live with your husband or wife for 6 months after you found out about the adultery. 
 
2. Unreasonable behaviour
If your husband or wife behaved so badly that you can no longer bear to live with them. This could include physical violence, drug or alcohol abuse, refusing to pay for housekeeping and verbal abuse e.g insults or threats.
 
3. Desertion
If your husband or wife has left you 
  • without your agreement
  • without a good reason
  • to end your relationship
  • for more than 2 years in the past 2.5 years 
You can still claim desertion if you have lived together for up to a total of 6 months in this period.
 
4. Lived apart for more than 2 years
You can get a divorce if you've lived apart for more than 2 years and both parties agree to the divorce. Your husband or wife must agree to the divorce in writing.
 
5. Lived apart for more than 5 years 
Living apart for more than 5 years is usually enough grounds for divorce with our without the consent of your husband or wife.
 
For expert legal advice on filing for divorce, contact one of our expert divorce solicitors at Newbold Solicitors. We have a variety of fixed fee divorce packages to help make this difficult time as quick and easy as possible.

Tips for Landlords

Getting your foot on the property ladder is extremely appealing to many. You can become a landlord, rent your property out and receive monthly income from your tenants. However, becoming a landlord is a big commitment - the property and your tenants' satisfaction and issues are your ongoing concerns and responsibilities, and many underestimate the amount of work required to be a good landlord and keep your tenants happy.
 
Keeping your tenants happy is the key to being a successful (and relatively stress-free) landlord! Making your New Year's Resolutions to market yourself as a great landlord and build a good tenant/landlord relationship will have numerous benefits for both you and your tenants, and will see your life as a landlord much easier. You're sure to see a more seamless transition from tenant to tenant, more tenants likely to renew their contracts and even a possibility of a rent increase. Here are our top 3 tips to help you meet your New Year's Resolution to be a better landlord.
 
1. Customise your Lease 
 
You can easily find a standard lease form online which will cover all the basic things such as rent, security deposit costs and any legal rights your tenant will have. You can use this lease form as the framework upon which to create your own lease, personalised for your property. You can add in any special rules you might have for the property, including your policy on pets, for example. Use as much detail as possible and aim to cover any questions your tenant might have, including late payment fees, maintenance responsibility and even tenant behaviour. A clear and concise lease covering all potential bases will get you and your tenants off to a good start, with both parties clear on the rules.
 
2. Make Sure you Know the Law
 
You'd be surprised how many landlords require legal advice because they don't know the correct laws surrounding which cover rent, security deposit, landlord and tenant obligations, tenant's rights and evicting tenants. There is plenty of information online regarding tenant and landlord laws, and make sure that you are fully aware of your legal obligations as a landlord and indeed, your tenant's legal obligations to you and your property. This will prepare you for any possible situation and equip you with the knowledge to protect your property at all times. 
 
3. Listen to your Tenants 
 
Make sure your listen to your tenant's concerns and needs. If there is something in the property which needs repairing, try and see to these repairs quickly and efficiently. If your tenant calls you try and listen to their concerns and address them appropriately. Try to respect their privacy and be compassionate where possible.

Will 2015 Be The Year Of Rent Control?

Rent control might well be the hottest topic in housing right now. The market has long been biased in favour of landlords, and many experts are suggesting that placing a cap on the amount of rent that property owners can demand from their tenants could be an effective means of redressing the balance.
So, will rent control soon become a reality in the UK? A recent survey found that "almost nobody" is opposed to the introduction of rent control measures, but MPs have been oddly quiet on the issue thus far - perhaps they are discouraged by Parliament's recent failure to pass a motion that would outlaw revenge evictions.
Still, with more and more noise being made about the unfair state of the private rental sector (housing charity Shelterrecently called for some major overhauls), it is surely only a matter of time before something is done to tip the scales back towards tenants. In the meantime, if you feel that your landlord is treating you unfairly, we recommend getting in touch with your nearest Newbold office.

Christmas Tree Competition: The Results!

A couple of weeks ago, all four Newbold offices put up their trees in preparation for Christmas. As you may remember, we decided to turn this annual tradition into a friendly competition - we showed you photographs of all four trees, asked you to choose your favourite, and promised prizes for the office whose tree received the most votes.
 
Well, the votes have been counted, and just ahead of the big day itself, we're pleased to announce that the winner is...
 

xmas comp newbold

 
...our Neath office! Their tree's red ribbons and glittering lights came out on top, and their sterling decorative efforts have won them several smashing prizes, including cinnamon sticks, Christmas-scented air fresheners, and an engraved bauble to keep for many Christmases to come. We hope they're very proud!
 
 
Congratulations once again to Newbold's Neath team, and merry Christmas to all of our clients! We hope you have a wonderful time this December, and we look forward to seeing you all in the New Year.

Landlord Round-Up: News from the Rental Market

This has been a busy news week for UK landlords. We've seen a lot of interesting reports in the last few days, and so we thought it might be useful to put all of these stories in one place for property owners and their tenants to see.

Here, then, is what's been happening in the rental market this week:
 

A Push for Energy Efficiency

 
A new government proposal could force landlords to install energy efficiency measures (such as double glazing and extra insulation) in older homes. If brought into effect, this law would prevent property owners from letting homes that fall below a minimum energy performance standard; this would be great news for tenants as it would keep their energy bills low, but it could be extremely costly for the owners of Victorian properties that don't already have modern energy-saving measures in place.
 

Rogue Landlords Will Be Named and Shamed

from The Guardian
 
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has compiled a public database of UK landlords and letting agents who have previously been prosecuted for health and safety violations. Tenants will now be able to check on the conviction history of prospective landlords before signing a tenancy agreement, presumably making it more difficult for previous offenders to find new business.
 

Revenge Evictions: Landlord Group Calls for "Clear Thinking"

 
We've heard a lot of news about revenge evictions of late; many have said that it is far too easy for landlords to evict tenants without a good reason, but while activists are calling for an urgent change in legislation, a prominent UK landlord group has urged lawmakers to be cautious with their decision. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) suggest "holding off" on new legislation until "more evidence" comes to light. Peers will debate potential restrictive measures in the new year.

Unpaid Rent: UK Landlords Owed £850 Million

 
Finally, we have some surprising statistics from another prominent landlord group: a recent report from the NLA (National Landlords Association) suggests that the average UK landlord is owed £1,649 in unpaid rent, amounting to a national total of roughly £850 million. If your tenants are failing to pay their rent, we suggest that you contact Newbold's Debt and Enforcement team for professional legal advice.