United Kingdom

Report: what can agents do about tenancy agreement breaches?

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A person holding out a tenancy agreement on a clipboard

It’s well known that tenants don’t always follow their tenancy agreements to the letter, but what are the most common breaches?

A new survey by insurance specialists Direct Line sheds some light on the issue, and the headline is sobering: a massive 83% of landlords have experienced at least one tenancy breach.

According to their stats, rent arrears were the most common issue: 38% of landlords have had rent arrive late, short, or not at all.


Causing damage was the second biggest issue behind rent arrears, with 36% of landlords reporting that tenants had failed to keep properties clean and maintained. Additionally, 29% of landlords said tenants had failed to report issues that needed repairing.

Tenants’ well-meaning but thoughtless DIY can also be a problem. 28% of landlords reported tenants making alterations to the property, 25% said that they had had tenants redecorate, and 15% said that their tenants had changed the locks.

Bad behaviour

Landlords further also reported other, no less troublesome types of tenancy breach. Over a quarter, 28%, had experienced tenants keeping unauthorised pets, while 27% said that tenants had smoked or vaped inside the property – both banned in most tenancy agreements. Meanwhile, 23% said that tenants had disturbed neighbours, while 15% said that they had sublet the property without permission.

What can letting agents and landlords do about tenancy agreement breaches?

Direct Line suggests inspections every six months to help spot any issues, and adds that 45% of landlords don’t do this. Having a convenient way for tenants to report maintenance issues, such as PayProp’s Tenant portal, could help the 29% of landlords whose tenants didn’t flag up issues.

The survey also covers some of the options landlords took when they discovered breaches: 38% made deductions from the deposit, 32% gave a verbal or written warning, and 23% evicted the tenant.

Landlords may need letting agents to help them through the eviction process when tenants break their agreements. While tenancy breaches can be grounds for eviction, they’re mostly only discretionary (meaning that judges don’t have to grant a possession order) and will need to be properly supported by evidence in court.

In England, non-payment of at least two months’ rent is a mandatory ground for eviction, but smaller arrears amounts, maintenance issues and keeping unauthorised pets aren’t. Scotland’s eviction rules are even more restrictive: all grounds for eviction are discretionary.

For now, landlords in England can also use a Section 21 “no fault” eviction, which doesn’t require any evidence. However, this option could soon be taken away, and so landlords and agents will need a plan for how they deal with tenancy breaches – by eviction or otherwise.

Other tenant headlines

Martin Lewis urges renters to check if they are owed thousands from their landlord – The Independent

Tougher Eviction Rules for social tenants – three strikes and you’re out! – Landlord Today

Fraudulent tenancy applications surge amid challenging market conditions – Property Reporter

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