Support for Kent Landlords

Ways we can support you

Avoiding eviction

We want to support landlords and tenants at the earliest stage and not wait for eviction.

We will support you and your tenant by seeking to understand the cause of the rent arrears, and work with you and your tenant to resolve these. We may be able to provide financial support to reduce or clear arrears. This could be by reviewing your tenant’s income and expenditure; helping to maximise your tenant’s income by helping them claim any benefits they are entitled to; agreeing affordable payment plans; or making payments to reduce or clear your tenant’s rent arrears.

It can be much more expensive, stressful and time consuming to evict tenants, compared to working to resolve tenancy issues, especially if someone has been a good tenant, but has found themselves in difficulties. We can help support you in resolving difficulties, retaining good tenants, rather than feeling your only option is to evict your tenant.

We can support you and your tenant to ensure they keep up with their rental payments by providing advice and assistance to your tenant, such as referring to organisations that provide debt and budgeting advice, or helping to set up direct payments of your tenant’s benefits.

Resolving problems

We want to help resolve problems you may be experiencing with your tenants.

There may be a dispute with your tenant over the amount of rent owed or repairs. We can help support you by understanding the details of the dispute and providing information and advice to help resolve this.

You may be receiving complaints about anti-social behaviour of your tenants. We can help by providing advice on steps to take and liaise with colleagues within the Council’s Community Protection or Safety Teams.

We can remind your tenants of the behaviour expected of them as a tenant and how their tenancy may be at risk if they do not look after the property.

Advice about your rights and responsibilities

We advise landlords of your rights and responsibilities.

There are various rights and responsibilities of being a landlord.

  • To have your rent paid on time and usually in advance. If your tenant falls behind with their rent, you may be able to take legal steps to evict them.
  • Your tenant to pay any other bills. Your tenancy agreement with the tenant should make it clear who is responsible for paying bills such as council tax, gas, electricity and water.
  • To have your property looked after and used in a “tenant-like” manner. This includes your tenant:
    – reporting any repairs needed;
    – making sure the property is well ventilated (to help avoid condensation and damp);
    – carrying out minor maintenance (such as checking smoke alarms are working and changing light bulbs);
    – disposing of all their rubbish and keeping the house reasonably clean.
  • Your tenant to be considerate to the neighbours. You can act against your tenants for anti-social behaviour if they are not considerate to their neighbours.
  • Repairs to be reported to you and your tenant allowing access for them to be addressed. Tenants have a responsibility to report any repair issues that arise so you can take action to fix them. In many cases, you will not be responsible for any repair work until you know about it.
  • Conduct the right to rent immigration check.
  • Provide all ‘start of tenancy’ paperwork, including:
    – A copy of the ‘How to Rent’ guide
    – a Gas Safety Certificate (where gas is supplied to the property);
    – prescribed information about which tenancy deposit protection scheme your deposit has been protected with;
    – an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC);
    – an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
  • Protect your tenant’s deposit with a government approved deposit protection scheme and provide the tenant with prescribed information about how the deposit is protected. (You cannot evict a tenant with a Section 21 notice if you have not provided them with these documents)
  • To maintain the structure and exterior of the property.
  • Fit smoke alarms on every floor and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms that contain appliances using solid fuels, such as coal and wood and make sure these alarms are working at the start of a tenancy.
  • To fix any problems with the water, electricity and gas supply and maintain any appliances and furniture you have supplied.
  • Carry out most repairs in a timely manner.
  • Arrange an annual gas safety check by a qualified Gas Safe engineer, if the property contains any gas appliances.
  • Give at least 24 hours’ notice of any visits for activities such as repairs.
  • Ensure the property meets the minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) requirements (unless the property qualifies for an exemption) – From 1 April 2020 all tenancies must have an EPC of at least Band E.

More information about your responsibilities as a landlord is provided in the government’s guidance on private renting.

Requesting direct benefit payments

We can advise how landlords can request direct benefit payments.

If your tenant is in receipt of Universal Credit you can apply for the following to be paid directly to you from their monthly payment:

  • Regular monthly rent
  • Rent arrears

You will need to visit Apply for direct rent payments to use this service.

If your tenant is still in receipt of legacy benefits such as Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance (and not yet on Universal Credit) and is claiming housing benefit, you can request direct payments from the Council’s Housing Benefit Team.

The Council must make payments direct to the tenant’s landlord if one of the following applies:

  • the claimant is eight weeks or more in rent arrears and payment to the landlord is not against the claimant’s interest
  • a deduction from income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or pension credit is being made to pay arrears

Advising tenants on budgeting and income maximisation

We can advise tenants on budgeting and how to maximise their income to help them pay their rent.

We can support your tenant to obtain debt advice. We can do this by signposting them or referring them to organisations that are able to provide debt advice, such as the Money Advice Service or Stepchange.

We can advise your tenant on ways they can maximise their income and advise them on how they can check if they may be entitled to any benefits, for example by using the Entitled To calculator.

We can advise your tenant on options for choosing cost efficient utilities and direct them to apply for the Warm Home Discount Scheme if we believe they may be eligible for this.

We can advise your tenant on steps they can take to resolve issues with their Universal Credit claim and advise if we believe there has been an error on their housing element entitlement.