Landlord Law Blog posted an article about rent books this week which I read with a mixture of interest and guilt. Since falling into running HMOs I’ve been vaguely aware that it’s a legal requirement for landlords to provide rent books to tenants who pay on a weekly basis.
About once a year I think “I must provide rent books so I don’t get thrown into jail” but the following questions always nag me:
- How often will my tenant remember where their rent book is?
- Will they remember to leave it out with their rent each week? I’ve spent years training them to leave their rent in a conspicuous place and don’t enjoy rifling through their underwear drawers or bedside tables to look for it (with their permission!)
- How often will I have to replace their rent books when they’ve lost them thereby losing their record of payments from the beginning of their tenancy?
- Who’s going to tell me off for not providing them?
I’m not being glib about the need for a record of payments, just about the method. Maybe the tenants have total trust in me or maybe it’s ignorance but all they care about is that the cash is handed over to me and I provide the accommodation. I issue a receipt for each payment received, a date for when the next rent is due and, if they’re short or overpay, it’s all recorded in duplicate so we both know where we stand. Then, I don’t care if they wipe their noses on the receipt, use it instead of a Rizla or file it for safekeeping because my master book has all the payment records for all tenants dating back to the beginning of my landlord career (in case the Inland Revenue want a fascinating read!).
If a tenant is struggling to keep up to date with their rent, I’ll issue a rent statement showing their payment record which also goes onto their file so I can keep track of bad debt for accounting purposes. Now, if all this sounds like I enjoy being organised – I don’t and have to force myself to stick a book keeping head on for an hour a week. One tenant’s rent arrears statement runs into three pages when he got into trouble a couple of years ago. I’m desperate for him to catch up just to save on ink!
The solution, of course, is to get everyone to pay monthly by standing order (excuse me whilst I pick myself up off the floor!) but then we’d miss doing what we do best – having a weekly gossip and catch up. P.S. I shall concede defeat and provide proper rent books in case any readers are planning to report me to………………….?