Problems Caused by Poor Communication Between Landlord and Tenants

By 10 min read • February 19, 2024

I was sent a link to a video. The person who sent the link is not a landlord, but he knows that I am and that I also do Airbnb. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t find it amusing and having watched it again I realised that often there is a complete mismatch between the perception of two people even when they share a mother tongue and similar culture and are both fairly intelligent.

What I saw in this video is two people each missing the other’s point because they were both intent on being right, and in their own way they were both right, they were not seeing the other’s point of view and therefore there was this grey zone between them where misunderstanding was dominating the conversation. If having watched the video you have decided who is right, that mindset is part of the problem.

If you don’t want to watch the video this is what is happening in a nutshell:

1. An Airbnb guest has turned up 5 hours early and is speaking to the property owner via Ring doorbell.

2. The guest has had a long plane journey and is tired and cannot understand why arriving 5 hours early is a problem because he booked a month before.

3. The property owner lives a distance from the property (2 hours) and has not prepared it since the last guests left. There is no key safe.

4. The guest is determined to get into the property and offers a compromise: he will accept that it hasn’t been cleaned yet and reduce the payment for the first night.

5. The owner is determined that he gave clear check-in instructions and that the guest did not ask for an early check-in, therefore he didn’t accept the offer because the fee had been paid and it would take him 2 hours to get there with the key.

6. At one point the guest said that he would book into a local hotel and claim the cost back from the owner because he was tired after a long flight.

7. The owner told him that he could not claim the cost back because the owner was not in the wrong and that he had arrived 5 hours early.

8. The guest then threatened to knock on the neighbour’s doors until he found someone who would let him wait in their home. At this point, he made an unpleasant reference to the neighbours not knowing that the property was being let via Airbnb.

There was more dialogue, but the important points are above and here is my take on this conversation which ended without a result.

Who was in the wrong?

To begin with, the guest was in the wrong, because the owner had given clear check-in instructions on the Airbnb system and the guest hadn’t asked for the option of an early check-in. Therefore, the owner was right but one of my favourite quotes is:

If you are killed on a zebra crossing, you are in the right BUT You are still dead.

The owner knew that the payment had been made to Airbnb and that they would not refund where the guest was in the wrong and therefore when he offered to book into a hotel the owner should have accepted that and ended the argument letting the guest think that he had won.

Often people become landlords by mistake because it doesn’t occur to them that investing in property is one business, but when you offer that property in exchange for rent that is a separate business, and the law says that you are now a landlord with all that goes with it.

Investor v landlord – the difference

The biggest difference is that investing in property is about buildings, whereas being a landlord is about people and buildings. Both businesses are about making money otherwise it isn’t a business, but the skills needed, and the personality types best suited, are very different. I see posts on my Facebook group daily where there is a misunderstanding caused by a lack of people skills and very often caused by landlords who cannot or will not see the tenant’s point of view or look for a resolution rather than a win. Since section 24 and increases in interest rates, I have noticed that the comments from some of these people are ‘angrier’ and they even get angry when other landlords are posting advice to help them. All they actually want is for someone to confirm that they are right and that the tenant is wrong so that they don’t have to take responsibility for a situation that has become really difficult. Nor do they have to stand back and think about how they can best resolve the issue. Too often section 21 becomes the stock answer and then we wonder why the government are being pressured to remove it. Section 21, because it is a “no fault” eviction should be a last resort, not a knee-jerk reaction to a disagreement which could, with patience, be resolved.

Lacking in people skills?

If you want to become a landlord and know that you haven’t got the people skills, patience or will to deal with people, you should find a good letting agent and hand the management over to them. It’s worth the 10% (before tax) and if you can’t or don’t want to do that, you should probably ask yourself why you want to be a landlord – the answer is not that all tenants are difficult and it’s not your fault, because in my 52 years as a landlord the huge majority of my tenants have been wonderful. A small number have been difficult but manageable and a tiny number have been awful and I am not the only landlord who would say this.

Mis-communication examples

I want to share some examples of where landlords and tenants are missing each other’s point and causing a breakdown in the relationship. It isn’t only landlords who get it wrong, but we are on the supply side and are meant to be business-like where tenants are customers and are not expected to have any particular people skills. Again, if you can’t accept that …

These are all from recent discussions:

The tenant reports that one of four electric cooker rings has stopped working on 27th December and the tenant informed the landlord. The landlord responds, “You have three more rings, and this is not an emergency, and I will get it fixed as soon as possible”. In reply, we are told that “the tenants went nuts”. On 13th January the landlord asked what other landlords would do and didn’t indicate that he had called a contractor.

  1. The landlord could have said “I cannot get an electrician for anything other than an emergency at the moment but as soon as I can let you know when he is coming
  2. The tenant might still have been angry but explaining why an electrician won’t be available during the holiday and telling the tenant that you will come back to them as soon as possible is giving them the full picture. The tenant overreacted, but then so did the landlord who posted on a Facebook group to get other landlords to support him rather than spending a couple of minutes sending a calm and full reply to the tenant and ignoring them “going nuts”. I expect that the tenant was really “going nuts” when the landlord had not got an electrician booked by 13th January and other landlords supported him without enquiring when he intended to actually call the electrician. Several suggested section 21 because the tenant was unreasonable! Perhaps I have a different understanding of that word?

A practice that I cannot understand is that of “gifting” large electric items to a tenant so that the landlord is not responsible for repairing or replacing the items should they break down during the tenancy. This landlord got bitten on the bottom having gifted a fitted oven to the tenant. This is what we are told happened when the tenant moved out.

  1. The tenant left the electric oven which had been gifted but did not clean it.
  2. The landlord would not give the tenant access to the property again in order to clean it but wanted it professionally cleaned.
  3. The tenant posted for advice and was told to remove the oven from the property.
  4. The landlord initially would not allow for it to be removed but would get it cleaned and claim from the tenant’s deposit.
  5. The tenant told the landlord that she would dispute the costs with the tenancy protection scheme because the item was hers (it had been gifted).
  6. The landlord told the tenant that she must provide a certificate from a qualified electrician who would remove the oven, which, in this case, was wired in.
  7. After taking advice, the tenant told the landlord that she could keep the oven.
  8. The landlord replied that she would claim the cost of £150 for cleaning the oven.

This is clearly a landlord who is determined to win rather than determined to resolve a simple issue which was created by the “gifting” of a fitted appliance. Unfortunately, this attracted a lot of comments from both tenants and landlords, but the answer was very simple. The tenant can put in a dispute with the deposit protection scheme who will decide how much, if anything the landlord can claim from the deposit and I would be surprised if it was anything like £150, especially if she hadn’t got a receipt. Oven pride costs less than £10 and she would have had an oven ready to “gift” to the next tenant!

I didn’t say so in the discussion but, since the landlord had “gifted” the tenant the oven, the tenant could simply have asked the landlord to hand her the gift by having it disconnected at the landlord’s expense. If the tenant had simply taken it with her, I wonder how the landlord would have reacted to the hole in the cabinet?

Rent increases – Discuss

There are endless discussions about rent increases, some are posted by tenants who are worried that they cannot afford the increase, others by landlords who usually begin with “I haven’t increased my rents for several years and they are now £xyz below the rents in my area…” Regardless of who is posting, there are similar communication issues involved.

  1. Even if you decide not to increase rent each year it’s important to communicate with the tenant to say that you have reviewed the rent and have decided not to increase it “at the moment”. This is always welcome news, but it also gives the tenant the heads up that the rent is being reviewed and may be increased at a future date
  2. It is much better to increase annually by a small amount than to let the rent fall well behind the local rents and then try to catch up in one increase. It may feel like you have been fair when you tell the tenant “as you know I have not increased your rent since 2019…” and in fact, the tenant has no doubt saved money but a big jump in cost may put pressure on their budget and they may overreact to that.
  3. Often, tenants will respond to a rent increase by mentioning disrepair which they have not reported until now, some will remind you of items that they have reported and are still outstanding, others will ask you to reduce the increase …
  4. By being clear when you increase the rent you are showing the tenant that you are working to a formula not just plucking a figure out of the air. Sharing your formula i.e. % increase compared to inflation, based on local rents.
  5. What you shouldn’t share is your personal financial situation, we are in business; when did the butcher last tell you that he has increased the cost of meat because his mortgage has increased? We can point out that “our costs have increased and therefore we need to increase the rent” but not give details of those costs, that has nothing to do with the tenant and causes resentment. So many tenants post about where their landlords live and the type of cars they drive when the rent is increasing and it’s important not to get into that discussion.
  6. Many tenants ask what their rights are and often get information which is going to make the discussion with the landlord uncomfortable for both of them and this is not where we want to be. By serving a Section 13 Notice of rent increase, the tenant will have all the information they need on that form and if they do choose to go to rent tribunal, they won’t gain anything unless you are asking for an increase which takes the rent way over the average for the area.

A phone call prior to sending the notice can be useful but only you know your tenant and how they might react either way. A covering letter is nice but should be just a few words to introduce the Form below

Form_4_-_Eng.docx ( England

RHW12-form.docx ( Wales

Sometimes we forget to communicate with our tenants but there are organisations which will tell them when something has changed and the deposit protections schemes must do this.

This is the email which one tenant reported that they received:

“Automatic Un-Protection of your Deposit Confirmation

Your landlord/agent protected your deposit with My Deposits, a government-authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme, in order to comply with their legal obligations.

We are writing as part of our obligation under the Tenancy Deposit Protection legislation to inform you that the deposit mentioned below is no longer protected with My Deposits.”

The case, which cleared up any doubt about when a deposit needed to be re-protected, was Superstrike V Rodrigues.

Superstrike_Ltd_v_Marino_Rodrigues.pdf (

The ruling means that when the end of a fixed term is reached and the tenancy is allowed to roll on monthly, either via a term in the tenancy agreement which means that is becomes a Contractual Periodic Tenancy or, if there is no term, by law which means that is becomes a Statutory Periodic Tenancy, both these are exactly the same it is only the origin which is different.

This means that the deposit scheme needs to be informed that the tenancy has continued, and therefore the deposit must remain protected. The original deposit for a fixed term tenancy will be protected until the end date on the tenancy which is recorded at the time that the deposit was originally protected. If we do not inform the scheme the deposit will not be protected, and we will not comply with the law. The exception is where we begin a new AST and register for a new deposit protection. The biggest issue with this is that we must return the deposit to the tenant before we can serve a valid section 21 and the tenant can also sue for up to three times the deposit in compensation just as if we had not protected the deposit in the first place.

Another occasion where our tenants may be told about their legal rights, which will potentially cost a landlord up to a year’s rent, is when a local authority has successfully sued a landlord who did not have a license to let a property as an HMO or in a Selective Licensing area and has informed the tenants. The local authority can also sue for a rent repayment if the rent was paid via benefits. This is called a Rent Repayment Order and this form is the application they can make

Form RRO1: Application by tenant or local housing authority for a Rent Repayment Order (Housing and Planning Act 2016) – GOV.UK (

To end on a high note government published a list of Indicative Local Housing Allowance rates for 2024 to 2025 on 9th January. This is a good indicator of what the increased LHA rates will be from April but the final figures won’t be published until the end of January. Hopefully, this will close the gap between local rents and benefits to help to pay them – we will see.Indicative Local Housing Allowance rates for 2024 to 2025 – GOV.UK (

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