Stop tenant trouble before it starts with these six simple steps from the experts at Belvoir
From sub-letting and malicious damage to benefit fraud and rent arrears, the problematic pitfalls of a troublesome tenancy can be many-fold for an unsuspecting landlord.
While thankfully these scenarios are rare, troublesome tenancies can lead to loss of rent and lengthy eviction processes, so put preventative measures in place and spot the warning signs early with these simple steps…
Home from home
“Well presented properties appeal to house-proud tenants who are likely to look after the property for you,” says owner of Belvoir Nuneaton and Hinckley and co-owner of Belvoir Tamworth Clayton Foston. “In fact, how the property is presented often dictates the type of tenant it will attract.
“Properties which are dated and in desperate need of redecoration send the wrong signals to prospective tenants. The lack of commitment and care shown may even transfer on to the tenancy itself – if there is no evidence that you care it is unlikely that they will either.
“If your property is freshly decorated with up-to-date appliances suitable for modern living your tenant is likely to feel proud of the property and take care of it. They will see your property as their home and, as such, will treat it like one too.”
Check it out
“Carrying out the appropriate background checks before committing to a particular tenant is essential,” says Adam Rastall, co-owner of Belvoir Liverpool West Derby and Belvoir Liverpool Central.
“It’s far easier to avoid problematic tenants by recognising the key indicators before they move in rather than trying to troubleshoot issues once the tenancy has begun.
“Essential checks should include credit and identity checks, plus it’s also important to gather appropriate references, including one from their employer and previous landlord if applicable.
“Build up a picture of your potential tenant by talking to them too,” he continues. “While it’s important never to rely on instinct alone, creating a relationship can help you establish what kind of character they are and what type of tenant they are likely to be.”
“Many tenancy issues that arise are due to poor communication,” says Clayton. “If you don’t communicate effectively the tenant will be unaware of their responsibilities and misunderstandings can occur.
“In addition, if you have a good relationship based on clear and concise communication your tenant will see you as approachable and feel comfortable bringing concerns to your attention quickly which will help prevent problems expanding and escalating unnecessarily.
“Proactive management of a tenancy is paramount so never leave a tenancy to run itself.”
“Always remember it’s a two-way relationship and treating your tenant as you would like to be treated yourself can help avoid small issues becoming big problems,” says Adam.
“Be fair at all times and if concerns and complaints arise make sure they are dealt with at speed.
“Never make false promises. If you say you’re going to do something make sure you see it through to completion within the timescales indicated. False promises simply result in a short-term fix and a potential decline in confidence of your abilities as a landlord.
“Likewise, it’s important to keep on top of maintenance issues so the tenant knows you care about the property and are committed to its upkeep and their needs.”
“During the tenancy is it crucial that you visit the property regularly,” says Clayton. “Once a quarter is advisable.
“Without these vital visits it’s impossible to know what’s going on behind the closed doors. In fact, visiting is the only accurate way to assess your property’s condition and ensure the tenant is living within the rules of the tenancy agreement.
“If the tenant is misusing the property in anyway there are likely to be key indicators during these inspections.
“If a tenant is smoking inside the property, for example, it will be obvious, or if your tenant is sub-letting to a third party without your knowledge there will be noticeable signs of this.
“Regular inspections also have other benefits,” he continues. “They can help you establish a good relationship with your tenant by building confidence and trust.
“In addition, if there are any maintenance issues which haven’t been reported you’ll be able to act on those too. It’s surprising how many tenants fail to report repairs which are then only revealed during these vital visits.”
“One of the simplest ways to help minimise tenant trouble is to ask a specialist letting agent to source your tenant and then manage the tenancy for you,” says Adam. “An agent operates on behalf of the landlord and will work hard to ensure that the right person is placed in the property.
“They will be able to carry out the credit checks and referencing plus, as experienced experts, they will be aware of the key indicators and warning signs that can ‘give away’ undesirable tenants.
“Once the tenancy begins they will regularly visit the property on your behalf, ensuring that the tenant is living within the terms of their tenancy agreement and feeding back information about any property maintenance needs. They will be able to organise contractors for any work needed too.
“They will also be able to deal with any complaints from a tenant and make sure that these are dealt with effectively and efficiently in order to prevent issues escalating. Plus, importantly, they understand the legal side of lettings and know what you can and can’t do by law and will be able to advise you accordingly.
“A letting agent is a valuable resource in any circumstances,” he concludes. “But if a good tenancy starts to turn bad their experience, knowledge and expertise can be absolutely invaluable.”
Avoid tenant trouble ticklist – at-a-glance…
- Well presented properties encourage tenants to look after them
- Dated properties send the wrong signals about your commitment and care
- Carrying out credit checks and referencing before a tenancy begins is essential
- Keep on top of maintenance and don’t let it escalate
- Treat your tenant as you would like to be treated yourself
- Look out for key indicators and warning signs of an undesirable tenant
- Clear communication will help limit misunderstandings
- Creating a good relationship encourages a tenant to let you know their concerns so they can be dealt with early and at speed
- Make sure the tenant understands their responsibilities
- Regularly visit the property to assess its current condition and ensure the tenant is living within the rules of the tenancy agreement
- Proactive management is vital – never leave a tenancy to run itself
- Don’t make false promises that can’t be fulfilled
- Ask a specialist agent to manage and troubleshoot the tenancy for you
Article Courtesy of: Belvoir