Leasing Out Your Home? Understanding Your Rights as A Bermuda Landlord
Friday Apr 08th, 2022
Homeownership may be part of the Bermuda Dream, but majority of Bermudians and Non-Bermudians live in rentals. Renting has also grown significantly more frequent among the age groups and family types that were previously more likely to own their homes.
Renting to tenants can be challenging. There are numerous things to keep in mind when renting your house, condo, or apartment, whether it's navigating complex landlord-tenant legislation like the Bermuda Landlord and Tenant Act of 1974 or just managing your landlord obligations.
When you're a landlord, you're often told what you can't do rather than what you can, and that never-ending list of restrictions can bog you down and make it difficult to understand the rights you have to help you manage your property effectively.
Learn about the rights you have as a landlord in Bermuda that allow you to find and rent to renters while maintaining a great renting experience in this article.
What Rights Do Landlords Have?
As a landlord in Bermuda, you have various rights that allow you to manage your rental property successfully and efficiently. These are some of the rights:
Right to Screen Applicants
If you have a new or unoccupied rental property, you may want to fill it as quickly as possible and start collecting rent. However, it is worthwhile to put in the extra time and effort when screening and selecting tenants.
As a landlord with a rental property in Bermuda, you have the legal right to screen tenants. You can either accept or reject a rental application, assess the prospective tenant's employment and income sources, rental history, credit history, and any relevant public data.
Right to Evict Tenants
Written notice is required. If the lease is for a year, the written notice must be no less than six months. The normal practice is to give one calendar months’ notice, which is based on the rent payment schedule and the fact that most people pay rent on a monthly basis. This is also in accordance with the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act.
A landlord may serve a notice-to-quit on a tenant for any of the following reasons under Section 13 of the Bermuda Landlord and Tenant Act:
- For failure to pay rent or breach of any other covenant or term of the rental agreement, or when a landlord wants the premises for his personal occupation, or the occupation of his father, mother, or any of his children or grandchildren above the age of 18 or married;
- Where a landlord wishes to rebuild the premises or intends to carry out major renovations that cannot be carried out while the tenant is in occupation;
- Where a landlord specifies that a tenant is undesirable (as defined by the provisions of the law) and the landlord has given him/her an opportunity to remedy the complaint and the tenant has failed to do so.
Evictions must be documented in writing. If the tenant has not vacated the premises by the specified date, the landlord has the right to file a possession order with the courts. The court will set a date for the obligatory eviction. If the tenant fails to quit as ordered by the court, the landlord may request that the Provost Marshal General forcibly remove the tenant and their goods from the property.
Right To Security Deposit - Use or Return
If the landlord collected a security deposit at the start of the tenancy relationship and followed all applicable laws, the security deposit can be used to pay for repairs or other damages that occur as a result of the tenant's breach of the lease agreement.
Security deposits must be handled, used, and returned according to tight guidelines. If you don't follow them, you may not be able to spend your deposit and the landlord may face additional financial penalties. However, with the assistance of an expert attorney, you may confidently follow the law and, where necessary, employ security deposits to greatly decrease the financial impact on you and your organization.
The Rent Control Act mandates that security deposits must not exceed 2 weeks’ worth of rent or $100, whichever is bigger, for rent controlled units. The deposit shall be returned after deductions for repairs are made. The payment of key money or reservation fee is illegal.
How to Attract High Quality Tenants as A Landlord in Bermuda
One of the most crucial aspects of owning a rental property in Bermuda is finding a dependable, trustworthy renter to occupy your property. Consider the following tips when choosing tenants who will treat your home with respect:
Suggestions for the general public:
- Maintain the condition of your property. Check to see if it's clean and neat, and if everything is up to date and in functioning condition.
- Set the rent at a level that is comparable to other properties in the neighborhood. It's ideal to have some wiggle space when it comes to price, but asking too much may turn off potential buyers.
- Conduct thorough background checks on all applicants to verify their qualifications. Do not take their word for it when it comes to verifying their background and credit history.
- Be patient while screening possible tenants. Because evicting poor tenants is expensive, waiting for a good tenant is worthwhile.
- If you're having trouble renting a larger home, see if converting it into numerous smaller units will be advantageous.
- Think about how renting to a potential renter will affect your current tenants or neighbors. Will the proposed renters make a lot of noise? Pollution? Do you have a business conflict with your present tenants?
- When deciding between potential tenants, consider how long they are willing to sign a lease. Long-term tenants save you time and money by eliminating the need to recruit new tenants, as well as providing a steadier income flow.
- Make all tenants sign a Tenancy or Lease Agreement before renting out your property. Outline who will be responsible for paying utilities, snow removal, maintenance, lawn care, and other related tasks.
This article is only for educational purposes and the figures used throughout the article are estimates and subject to changes by the Bermuda Rent Commission. Like with any decision, it is important that you reach out to a professional for proper guidance before renting a house in Bermuda.
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