If you are planning to take any action that may impact on the tenants' enjoyment of the property, you should ensure that you inform your tenants in a timely manner.
Repairs and improvements
You may wish to carry out substantial repairs or improvements on a let property. While there is a tenant in the property, you should not access the property or allow other people access without the tenant's consent. However, under Article 12 of the Private Tenacies (NI) Order (2006) the tenant is required to give you access if you are carrying out work ordered by the council, as long as you have given reasonable notice.
If essential repair work needs to be carried out and your tenant is unwilling to allow you access to the property, you may wish to consider offering the tenant a reduction in rent or alternative accommodation while the work is ongoing.
If a tenant refuses access to the property, obstructing you from carrying out necessary repair work, you may be able to get a court order allowing you access. Seek advice from a solicitor.
Selling the property
You can sell a tenanted property, but you should tell the purchaser that there is a sitting tenant in the property. The tenancy should come to light during the conveyancing period, but it's best to make the purchasers aware at the outset. If there is a fixed term agreement in place, the new owner will have to honour this agreement and the terms contained in it. If the tenant is periodic, the new owner will have to follow due process to evict the tenant from the property.
If you fall into arrears with your mortgage or secured loan payments, your tenants' home could be at risk. If your lender begins possession action you should inform your tenants.
Once the lender decides to take court action, it will usually send a letter to the occupants of a rented home informing them that the property is subject to possession proceedings and informing them of the date of the hearing for possession and of their right to attend. Failing to inform your tenants of your arrears before they receive this letter could damage your relationship with them.
Your tenants will probably want to know whether they can stay on in the property and what will happen to their security deposit.
Your tenants' rights to remain in the property depend very much on whether you have your lender's permission to rent out the property. If the lender is aware and has consented to the tenancy your tenants are "authorised" and can remain in the property until their current fixed term agreement expires. If they are periodic tenants, the lender will have to follow due process to evict the tenants from the property. If, on the other hand, you did not obtain the lender's permission and you were letting the property without the lender's consent, the lender does not have any duty to recognise the tenancy. The lender will expect the tenants to vacate the property before the possession order is enforced and it will be very difficult to challenge this.
If the lender regains possession of the property, you must settle the issue of the deposit with the tenant. At this stage you should return the deposit in full to the tenant unless the tenant is in arrears of rent. As you no longer have an interest in the property, it would be unreasonable to use the tenant's deposit for any damages caused by the tenant unless you have already paid to repair these and can provide proof of your expenditure.