Ensuring you recruit the right type of tenant is one of the most important parts of the lettings process. A ‘rogue tenant’ can push landlords and letting agents into a desperate situation. Whilst there are laws out there to help protect landlords, legal proceedings can be uneconomical, inefficient and very expensive. So here’s my advice on how to make sure you never end up in that position…
Although it is possible to find yourself with a difficult tenant despite all due-care, there are a number of things you can do to minimize the chances of this. Following a good application process is essential to safeguarding yourself from bad tenants.
Take the time to talk to tenants. Viewings are a prime opportunity to do this. Get to know tenants; be warm and friendly; ask questions; show genuine interest; find out why they are moving; delve for a little information on their current personal circumstances – but be subtle, don’t interrogate! You should aim to build a positive relationship from the start.
Recruit on values
Don’t jump at the first prospective tenant you get. Make sure you do your due diligence on them and choose the right tenant for your property. Don’t be afraid to say no!
If you have your doubts, or don’t feel at ease with a prospective tenant, you are well within your rights to politely decline them. This is your investment, and it is at your discretion as to who occupies your property. Remember, having a bad tenant will cost far more in the long run than sacrificing a few weeks rent to find the right tenant.
Deposits must always be taken in full, and protected under one of the government backed tenancy deposit schemes. Never take tenant deposit payments in instalments – this is a tell-tale sign that the prospective tenant may not have the means to cope with the financial commitment related to the tenancy.
Be as thorough as possible when screening your prospective tenant. Yes, this is time-consuming, but will save you a whole load of hassle in the long run!
Always check an applicant’s Right to Rent – despite whether you think they are a British citizen, or not! The government made this a legal requirement in February 2016. You can be fined up to £3,000 for renting your property to someone who isn’t allowed to rent property in England. Clik here for more info on it…
Talk to the prospective tenant’s current/previous landlords. This will help determine whether the tenant has a history of being a ‘rogue tenant’.
Cross-reference student registration numbers with the university to check they are legitimate. You would be surprised as to how many tenants will try their luck!
Request proof of employment from tenants that claim to be working. Asking for copies of employment contracts/pay-slips are a great way of determining whether employment is secure.
Conduct credit checks on all tenants. These can be quick and affordable. A real no-brainer!
All tenants should be required to provide a UK based guarantor – you will find it almost impossible to chase for any rent outside of the UK!
Guarantors should provide proof of identity, proof of address, and proof of employment.
Following this process should give you the security that you will receive any outstanding rent no matter what, and also prevent your tenants from getting into a difficult situation.
Always generate a clear and concise inventory report of your property 1-3 days before a tenant moves in. The report should consist of photos and a true description of the condition of every item on the premises; not forgetting to include notes on the condition of walls, ceilings and carpets. This may sound a little long winded, but will be a great help when settling any future deposit disputes. Skip this step and you will learn the hard way that deposit protection schemes are strict and unforgiving.
Touching base with your tenants a week or two after tenants move in is a good way to check your letting to who you think you are.
Regular inspections thereafter will mean you can not only pre-empt any problems before having to resort to charging against tenant deposits, but will also ensure you are aware of any subletting or fraudulent/illegal behavior.
Manage expectations. Prior to tenants moving in, as a landlord, you are obliged to provide tenants with a copy of the ‘Right to Rent Guide’, published by the government. This will help your tenants understand what is expected from them, and restate their responsibilities. It’s important to be clear as to the expectations you have of your tenants from the beginning, and what they can expect from you. This will help prevent any conflict further down the line!
Be accessible. Ensure tenants are given a reachable way to contact you; they shouldn’t have an excuse for not getting in touch – both a phone number and email address is the norm.
Be efficent when tending to any repairs/issues that may arise, don’t delay unnecessarily. It is in your best interest to keep your property in the best condition and satisfy your tenants.
Be flexible with your tenants, and never access the property without following the access arrangements noted in the tenancy agreement. When possible, try to work round your tenant’s schedule. Causing as little disruption will ensure your tenants stay comfortable and relaxed in your property!
Following the above communication rules will only enhance your relationship with tenants, keeping things positive. By treating your tenants with the respect they deserve, you are far more likely to respect both you and your property. If you are finding this a struggle, the use of an experienced and professional property management agency can safeguard you.
Never forget that your investment property is just that, an investment! Making improvements, redecorating and maintaining all aspects of your property will ensure tenants recommend you as a landlord and want to stay longer – that’s the aim right?!
Want some HMO design tips on how to help your property really stand out from the rest? Why not check out this months’ earlier blog post on my top 5 tips to stand out from the HMO crowd?
Mentoring & Training
When letting a HMO or thinking about becoming a landlord, it’s imperative that you at least have a basic knowledge of tenant-landlord law, legislation surrounding HMO tenancies and good property management processes. You never know when there might be a need to follow any legal proceedings; it’s important you do things the right way!
Finding an experienced and knowledgeable mentor can be helpful in guiding you through the process, and ensuring you have the relevant training. Some councils even offer landlord training! If this isn’t for you or you just don’t want the headache, hiring a reliable and professional property management agent to act on your behalf is the right way to go.