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LANDLORD: 'I didn't understand the supply shortage, then 84 people contacted me'

tenants queue for property

I was sad to receive notice from a good tenant last week. She and her partner have lived at my property for two years – it was their first home together and after deciding they can successfully bear one another’s company, they are now moving on to pastures new. Great news for them of course but leaving me with the minefield that is finding a new tenant.

Unsure as to the current demand in the northeast, I tentatively listed the property on Facebook Marketplace to gauge the level of interest. It’s a two bed-mid terrace with a small garden, so whilst perfect for a single tenant or a couple it’s not palatial in size and therefore couldn’t really be classed as a family home. Furthermore, it’s within a local council selectively licensed town which can of course carry its own stigma. I listed it as “All Applications Welcome”.

Offering guarantors

Fast-forward 24 hours and I now have 84 private messages and 6,298 clicks. Some have offered to pay six months up front, others are prepared to move immediately, offering guarantors and references over email before they’ve even viewed the property. Of course, at this rate there’s simply no way I can single-handedly respond to every message, let alone provide viewings for each prospective applicant. Remember, the property is only advertised on one social media platform – Rightmove and Zoopla haven’t even had a sniff.

I have long heard the rhetoric that demand is outstripping supply, but this is unprecedented. I now find myself in a position where I need to ‘screen’ applicants before I even meet them, let alone reference them, whilst also maintaining a fair and non-discriminatory application process.

Filtering enquiries

It begs the question – where will this end? As landlords we will always want the best tenants so of course, a high level of interest is preferred. However, when the task of filtering enquiries becomes such a chore, we need a robust system in place to make sure we only progress with serious and committed tenants. This ultimately means a higher threshold to rent - greater data-gathering and more stringent referencing and credit checking.

I feel desperately sorry for renters in these circumstances. With such fierce competition, surely it’s an almost impossible task for them to secure a property. How can they stand out from the crowd and make their application more attractive than the countless others? What chance do those with poor credit, lack of rental history or no guarantor have? Tenants no longer have consumer power because the property choice isn’t there. It’s become desperate.

And it doesn’t stop there. With many landlords selling up in the fog of Renters Reform, dwindling supply also equates to rising rents. It’s a worrying time for landlords, but an even more worrying time to be a tenant.  

Victoria Valentine is a landlord advisor at Landlord Action.


Rental market
Rental reform bill
Tenant referencing