Living in rented property can present festive problems

Liz Rowen of Taylor&Emmet
Liz Rowen of Taylor&Emmet

If you live in or rent out a residential property, the festive season can present its own set of problems. In this month’s column, Liz Rowen, shares a few simple steps to a safe and happy Christmas...

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but before we all tuck into the turkey, landlords need to consider if their properties are fit to take on falling temperatures and the extra pressures on home life.

Are your pipes properly lagged and have you had the boiler serviced recently? Remember, you have a duty to ensure tenants have heat and hot water at all times of the year. Early action may prevent breakdowns occurring – not to mention expensive emergency callout fees during the Christmas break.

If you rent a private property, I would recommend re-reading your tenancy agreement. There is likely to be a clause prohibiting the use of candles as they are a fire risk, however, so are fairy lights, paper decorations and even Christmas trees.

You need to be aware of the increased dangers of using temporary trimmings and keep your home as safe as possible. Heed your obligations and forget the candles, but also make sure you check fuses and don’t overload plug sockets or keep fairy lights on when you go to bed or leave the house unattended.

December and January are the months when we solicitors receive the most enquiries about rent arrears. It is tempting to use money put aside for rent to satisfy festive expectations, but late payment or failure to do so entirely will spoil any goodwill and peace engendered between landlords and tenants.

Rent arrears are a valid reason to seek possession of a property. There is a process landlords must abide by before a tenant can be evicted, but if rent remains unpaid for two months or more and the correct notices have been served, the courts have to issue a possession order in most cases.

The moral of the story? Failure to pay rent now, could cost you dearly in the New Year.

Liz Rowen is a specialist in property litigation at Sheffield’s Taylor&Emmet LLP. For more information, telephone (0114) 218 4000, visit www.tayloremmet.co.uk and www.landlorddisputes.co.uk or follow the firm on Twitter @te_propertylaw.