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Q&A: RENTING

<strong>Louise Savage</strong><br />DIRECTOR OF RESIDENTIAL LAND<br /><br /><strong>Q. I rent out a house and the neighbours have complained to me more than once now about my tenants making noise. How should&nbsp;I bring this up? I feel embarrassed and don't want to ruin what is otherwise a good relationship with my tenants.</strong><br /><br /><strong>A. </strong>In this kind of situation, you&rsquo;ve got two options in the first instance. If possible, suggest to the neighbours that they approach the tenants and see if they can amicably sort it out between themselves. However, if you don&rsquo;t really want the neighbour to get involved with the tenant, then you, as a responsible landlord, will need to approach them and sort out the situation.<br /><br />The best course of action, especially if you have had a good relationship with them, is a softly, softly approach. But before approaching your tenants, you should try to contact other neighbours to see if there really is a problem &ndash; don&rsquo;t immediately assume that your tenants are in the wrong.<br /><br />If the other neighbours aren&rsquo;t hearing anything then you need to go back to the person who has complained and tell them that others are not experiencing the same problems. But if others have said that they have heard excessive noise repeatedly but haven&rsquo;t wanted to address the situation, then you need to speak to your tenants.<br /><br />Be very polite and friendly and ask them if they can try to curb their noise a little bit. Try not to be too embarrassed about bringing it up &ndash; it&rsquo;s in everyone&rsquo;s best interest that you speak to them and it might solve the problem immediately. If it doesn&rsquo;t work then put it in writing &ndash; there&rsquo;s usually a clause in tenancy agreements that prohibits excessive levels of noise out of hours.&nbsp;<br /><br />After you have addressed the problem, keep in contact with the person who made the complaint, and see whether things are getting any better. As a last resort, you&rsquo;ll need to take legal advice, but this can be quite expensive and worth avoiding if at all possible.<br /><br /><strong>Q. I've been renting my house for just over a year now and the owner has sold the property. The new landlord is now trying to put up the rent in the middle of my tenancy contract. What, if anything, can I do about it?</strong>&nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>A. </strong>Your tenancy agreement is binding for both the landlord and the tenant and it stands for the entire duration of the agreement, regardless of whether the landlord changes. This is different to when tenants change and there is a new agreement signed. The landlord will have bought the property with you as sitting tenants and must therefore respect the existing agreement that you signed with the old owner.<br /><br />Any changes to rent are normally discussed when the tenancy agreement comes up for renewal &ndash; the exception is when it has been written into the tenancy contract that there will be an increase after the first six months, but this is normally for very long-term tenancy agreements and you would have agreed to this.&nbsp;<br /><br />While the tenancy agreement remains valid your new landlord cannot inflict any increase in rent and you shouldn&rsquo;t feel under pressure to do anything. However, as you are half-way through your contract, bear in mind that the landlord may well propose an increase in your rent when your agreement does come up for renewal. When negotiating with the landlord you should take into account what other similar properties in the area are going for &ndash; it might be a fair increase.&nbsp;<br /><br />Our rental expert is Louise Savage, director of Residential Land, London&rsquo;s largest prime central London landlord.<br />www.residentialland.com