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Managing tenants

Your role as landlord will be made much easier if you can establish good relationships and good communication with your tenants from the outset. At the beginning of the tenancy establish what you expect from your tenants and what they can expect from you. Be careful to manage your tenants’ expectations: you have to balance the importance of providing a good service with the amount of time and money it costs.
This section also covers the legal side of managing tenants: both you and the tenant need to be aware of the clauses in your agreement which must be carried out during the course of a lease or licence.

Communication

A good lease or licence and tenant’s handbook will provide a sound basis for the landlord-tenant relationship.

Set out clearly how tenants should contact you and explain how any queries or problems they have will be dealt with. Ask each tenant to elect a ‘tenant representative’ to act as your single point of contact. This will help to prevent confusion and mixed messages.

Take a proactive approach to managing your tenants. Give them reasonable notice of changes or requests and try to deal with disputes or queries quickly.

Depending on the flexibility you offer your tenants, you may have to manage the changing space requirements of growing/shrinking organisations. Again, the key here is communication. Encourage your tenants to include you in their forward planning and to give as much notice as possible of their need for more or less space so that you have time to try and accommodate their requirements. You could formalise this communication through a form included in the tenant’s handbook. Tenants wanting to reduce their space would usually be bound by the notice period set out in the lease, though you may be able to find a new tenant for the space they are relinquishing sooner than that.
 

Promoting synergy

One of the attractions of locating in a shared building is the opportunity to share resources, ideas or even staff. The reality is that once tenants get stuck into their day to day work, it’s hard for them to make time to get to know other tenants. As a landlord, you may wish to dedicate some resources to facilitating this synergy between tenants, especially as it can improve the lettability of your building.  You could consider:

  • setting up an easy way for tenants to communicate with each other eg. an intranet or email list
  • finding a way for tenants to advertise resources they are willing to share
  • making time and space for tenants to socialise and exchange ideas
  • organising building-wide events eg. training or social events


The Legal Side

Managing the agreement

If you have agreed and signed a well drafted agreement that protects the position of both you and the tenant you will have minimised the amount of time you have to spend administering the agreement for its duration. There are, however, key points in the life cycle of the agreement where it might be necessary for you to take action.

Rent reviews

Check whether the agreement you have signed requires you to give notice to your tenants of a rent review and if it does make sure you stick rigidly to the timescales or dates set out. If your agreement requires you to send a formal notice proposing a new rent you should ask your solicitor to do this on your behalf as notices must be served in a specific legal format.

Administering Service Charges

See the Costs and Charges section of this web resource for information on calculating and administering service charges.

Break clauses

If you wish to exercise a break clause you will need to follow the specific requirements on how to serve notice to your tenants as set out in the agreement. As explained previously, the serving of notices is a very complex area so it is important and cost effective to get a solicitor to serve notices.

Tenant breaches agreement

If a tenant is in breach of an agreement eg. non-payment of rent, seek professional legal advice about the options you have.