1 in 7 bend tenancy rules

Warren Lewis
21st September 2016

New research by Direct Line Landlord Insurance reveals that one in seven renters have broken one or more rules outlined in their tenancy agreement.

While the majority of tenants have stuck to the rules, 15% claim to have broken the terms and conditions of their rental agreement and a further 9% claim that they don’t have a contract at all. 11%, meanwhile, claimed that they were unsure as to whether they had actually broken any of the rules in their contract or not.

The rules tenants bend range from failing to pay the rent on time or at all (25%) to failing to regularly check the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm (10%). Other common broken rules include smoking (21%), keeping a pet (18%) and damaging or making alterations to the property (17%).


Percentage of tenants

Failing to pay rent on time (or at all)


Smoking in the property


Keeping a pet in the property


Damaging or making alterations to the premises


Changing the locks


Caused disturbances or a nuisance to neighbouring properties


Sublet a room without notifying the landlord


Failed to clean accessible windows


Redecorated without permission


Failed to check smoke or carbon monoxide alarm


The most common sanctions for breaking tenancy rules include losing some or all of the deposit (52%), followed by having to pay for any damages (22%) and in some extreme cases tenants were even evicted (4%). However, more than one in five (21%) tenants say that the landlord never found out about their misdemeanours.

Nick Breton, Head of Direct Line for Business said: “The relationship a tenant has with their landlord can be crucial in the smooth running of a rented property. It is therefore of utmost importance for tenants to keep in touch with their landlords should anything arise that may be in breach of their rental agreement.

Many landlords may be accommodating of requests to have a pet or to make changes to the property, but it is always safest to ask before doing anything to ensure that you are not breaking your contract in the process. Tenants who break the rules of their contract can face anything from the loss of their deposit to eviction, so for peace of mind, landlords should ensure they have a watertight legal contract in place to fall back on should anything happen to their property.”

Top tips for landlords to ensure that tenants stick to the rules of their contract:

1. Be clear from the outset: Ensure that your adverts clearly state any rules that you feel strongly about – for example looking for non-smoking or pet-free tenants only.

2. Have it agreed in writing: It is imperative to have a written tenancy agreement for your tenants. Not only will they be legally required to pay rent, but it will also clearly outline what is and what isn’t allowed in the property. It’s a good idea to go through all of the clauses and penalties with the tenants before they sign the agreement to ensure that they are clear on the rules of the tenancy.

3. Maintain dialogue with your tenants: You are within your rights to make scheduled visits to your property to ensure it is being maintained to a level that was agreed in the contract. This will also ensure that tenants look after your property, and dissuade them from breaking the rules too much.

4. Don’t go overboard: Try not to make too many rules. Keep it simple. Establish a trusting, positive relationship with the tenant as they’ll be even more likely to stick to the rules.

5. Accept that you may need to be flexible: If you have good tenants in your property for a length of time who make a request to get a pet, you may want to consider a compromise. Keeping the value of your property is one thing, but this may be offset by the time and cost of finding new tenants if it becomes a deal breaker.

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