The story of Landlord Law

November 14, 2021

Hello, I’m Tessa Shepperson.  In this month of November 2021, my Landlord Law service reaches its 20th anniversary.  Which is pretty good for an online service. 

So I think it is appropriate to celebrate the service by telling you its story.

Its a long post so here is an index with links:

In the beginning

In the late 1990’s I was running my own solicitors firm as a sole practitioner, specialising in property work.

The original ‘Landlord Law’ website (from 1999) was intended to be a place where people could instruct me online to do legal work. However, though it, I came to realise that many landlords (and also tenants) had no idea of their legal rights and obligations.

So I asked people if they would be prepared to pay to get access to a website with answers – and most people said ‘yes’. And so Landlord Law was born.

Landlord Law April 2003Developing the Landlord Law membership site

It took quite a long time to set up. Membership software did not exist then (membership sites were not even a ‘thing’).  I had to pay for a bespoke website to be built, which took a long time, plus it also took me between 6 months and a year to write all the content.

Thankfully the service was successful right from the start and so my gamble paid off.

Landlord Law then was quite different from the current site (you can see a rather bad image from 2003 above) and mostly consisted of articles and FAQ. Although I did develop a ‘trail’ to help landlords work out what tenancy type they have. You can still see it on the site today here (although it has been updated since then).

We still have members from that time. Our members are remarkably loyal so we must be doing something right!

The site now has a huge number of FAQs and articles, many dating back to those early years (although updated when necessary) and we are often adding to them. For example, if someone asks a question in our forum which is not covered, I will usually do a quick FAQ.

The information content on the site is enormously popular and useful for our members.

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The Landlord Law Documents Service

At the start, Landlord Law was just an information service and we did not have any documents.

However, members kept asking if we could provide a tenancy agreement, so I put up a few forms.

I see the light about plain English forms

Then in 2009, I represented a Landlord Law member when he applied for a Crystal Mark. That experience made me realise how important ‘plain English’ language is for documents. It just makes such a difference to their readability.

I, therefore, launched a new project, which took me about 3 -4 months, to completely rewrite and re-organise our tenancy agreements to make them easier to read and understand.

Part of this exercise was a consultation with members to see what they wanted in their tenancy agreement. So the Landlord Law tenancy agreements are now completely unique and special for our members.

The new version proved very popular with members and is one reason why our members are so loyal.

The basic template has been updated many times since then to keep up with changing laws and has also been amended several times to reflect some brilliant changes suggested by our members. So our tenancy agreements are now easy to understand documents that look after landlords interests but are also fair to tenants.

There are several versions available today including tenancies for a room in a shared house (eg HMOs) and versions for use in Wales.

Other documents and forms

Mind you, tenancy agreements are not the only forms we have on Landlord Law!

We also have possession notices and various other documents for you to use with your tenants. For example  forms of receipt so you can show you have complied with the law, forms to  record meter readings and  self calculating forms for you to use when creating a schedule of arrears for court proceedings.

We also have quite a few landlords letters which you can use in various circumstances. For example, the most recent letters were drafted to help landlords who take  holding deposits.

Plus, if a member gets in touch asking for a particular notice or letter we will (if we think it will be useful for others) draft this up and put it on the site for all members to use.

The Second Landlord Law Website

The current Landlord Law website is not the first – it is the third!

The second site went online in 2010 (you can see what it looked like on your right). It had extra services such as a bespoke ‘document generator’ allowing members to create tenancy agreements and other documents.

We also had a members discussion forum which was (and still is) very popular – mainly for asking me questions!

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One to One Advice on Landlord Law

People have often asked for a telephone helpline, but life would be impossible for me if I had Landlord Law members ringing me up night and day! (And for my family – my husband has semi-jokingly threatened divorce if that happened).

So instead we have a members forum area.

The current site has a new and superior forum which (after our developers had finished with it) went live in February 2019.

About the forum

The advantage of having a forum is that I can give ‘one to one’ help to members.

Although people like telephone advice, I think, for most problems, forum help is actually better. With a telephone call, it is easy to forget what was said. However, on a forum, you can go back and revisit the advice given. You can also benefit from comments from other members – which are often very helpful and insightful.

Some people who are unfamiliar with online forums find them intimidating, but the Landlord Law forum is quite easy to use plus we have a lot of online help.

Most people take enormous comfort from the fact that they can ask a question (even a ‘stupid’ one) and get it answered by a landlord and tenant solicitor (me) . Usually within a few hours (or even minutes).

Can you post anonymously?

Some people are concerned about confidentiality and being identified on the forum. However, this is in reality not a problem.

You don’t have to use your own name, so (unless you want to use your real name) people will have no idea who is asking the question.

The forum is also a private forum – only Landlord Law members and staff can see it. So your tenants (for example) will never know what I have said about your issue.

It’s not like the free public forums where your tenants may be able to identify you from your question!

Quick and complex questions

The forum is really best for ‘quick questions’. So if you wake up in the middle of the night panicking about something – you can put a question about it on the forum and I will normally answer within 24 hours (although it could be longer at weekends and over bank holidays).

However, if you have a really complex issue I will normally refer you to our solicitor telephone advice service.

Telephone advice

Although I don’t and never have had a telephone helpline where people just ring up, we have for many years had a pay extra telephone advice service.  This is now with one of our panel of specialist solicitors firms.

Part of the agreement I have with the panel solicitor firms is that only qualified ‘landlord and tenant’ solicitors will provide the advice – so you won’t get fobbed off with a trainee or paralegal. You can see the solicitors listed on the telephone advice page here.

We now have six firms of solicitors, all top-notch landlord and tenant firms, including a firm based in Wales for our Welsh members.

The telephone advice service allows you to speak to a solicitor within a few days at (for solicitors rates) reasonably low cost. But it is the convenience that people most appreciate with our service.

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Help for landlords whose tenants don’t pay their rent

One of the big problems which all landlords fear is rent arrears. After all, you have to pay YOUR expenses on the property whether the tenant pays or not. So dealing with rent arrears situations promptly is really important.

On Landlord Law we have a special section of the site that addresses this – it is called the Rent Arrears Action Plan.

About the Rent Arrears Action Plan

This has been an important feature of Landlord Law for years – I think I first developed it at about the time of the 2008 financial crisis when a lot of landlords had issues with tenants not paying rent.

It provides a ‘step by step’ plan for you to follow – starting from the day after your tenants first fall into arrears. This is why you always need to check your bank account when the tenant’s rent is due – or use a service such as Hammock which can notify you when payments are not made.

The Rent Arrears Action plan consists of five sections:

  • Preliminary matters – things you need to know or sort out before you start
  • Stage 1 – sending letters and trying to reach an agreement (with advice on ways you can help and on mediation)
  • Stage 2 – serving possession notices, advice on preparing schedules of arrears and other preliminary issues that you need to consider before issuing eviction proceedings
  • Stage 3 – considering eviction proceedings, and the things you need to take into account when deciding how to proceed
  • Stage 4 – For people who want to get a County Court Judgement rather than (or as well as) bringing proceedings for eviction

The Rent Arrears Action Plan is aimed specifically at dealing with rent arrears issues and hopefully will help you resolve the situation without having to go to Court.

However, if you are unable to get payment and decide there is no alternative but to evict, then we have a number of other services to help you.

Before you start your eviction claim

It is really important that you get things right from the start as otherwise, you can get into difficulties which could end up costing you a lot of time and money. So we have a number of step by step guides (or ‘trails):

We have a summary of our  eviction related resources here.

When you are ready you have two options:

  • You can bring proceedings yourself using our step by step Eviction Guide, or
  • You can use one of our recommended solicitors via our special members-only instruction forms

Note that the eviction guide is only available to Business Level members, and if you join as a monthly member it is only available after the first month.

Many landlords have used our online service for their eviction claims and have saved themselves hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds. It is a very useful service. Litigation is easy to get wrong if you don’t know what you are doing or don’t have proper help.

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trainingHow Landlord Law can help with training

Hopefully, you will never be in the position of having to evict your tenant, or indeed having to use the courts at all.  The best way to avoid problems is regular training.

The importance of training

Landlord and tenant law is constantly changing. New laws and regulations are passed, and new cases bring new interpretations of laws we thought we understood.

If you want to be a good landlord or letting agent, you need to keep up with all of this. Landlord Law can help:

The monthly training webinar

Every month we have a webinar on a topic of importance for landlords and letting agents delivered by an expert (usually a solicitor or barrister). For example, in the past, we have had talks on

  • Data Protection
  • The rules relating to ‘houses in multiple occupation’ (HMOs)
  • Reading leases
  • Death and rented property
  • Tenant disability and how it affects landlords
  • Signature and ‘execution’ of documents
  • Radon, Asbestos and Legionella (the three silent killers)
  • ‘Doing it yourself’ in the First Tier Tribunal

All of our training webinars are recorded and you can watch them all on the site – provided you are a Business Level member.

Training courses

We also run regular training courses. For example, in the past 18 months, we have had training courses on ‘rent to rent’, HMOs, and possession proceedings. Plus our annual Conference, which for the past two years has been delivered online due to the pandemic.

Apart from the monthly training webinars, our training is all pay extra, but Landlord Law members always get an automatic discount – provided you are logged in at the time.

Some of the training is made available to Landlord Law members afterwards, for example, members (business level members) can now view the HMO day recordings.

Other training events, such as the rent to rent training, are turned into an online training course, but if so Landlord Law members will always get a discount.  Business Level members can also see all but the most recent Conference talks on the site.

So all in all, Landlord Law membership is a good way to keep yourself up to date with the law.

We have some exciting plans for training in 2022 which we will be announcing probably in January.

Landlord LawThe Current Landlord Law

By 2017 it was becoming clear that the second Landlord Law was on its last legs and needed to be updated.  For various reasons, we decided to develop an entirely new website which went live in December 2018.

It has proved very successful and members seem to enjoy it (as our Trustpilot reviews show).

If you are interested in membership and want to find out more about the site, you can find out if it can help with your problems here.

To the next 20 years!

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#landlordlaw is 20 years old! Find out more about the service and how it has lasted so long.

Not a Landlord Law member?  Find out more here.
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