Paul Shamplina, Brand Ambassador for mydeposits, talks about what challenges a landlord can face when renting out their properties:
For over 25 years, I’ve been helping landlords with problem tenants, who won’t pay rent and refuse to leave properties. Having dealt with over 35,000 instructions during this time, you can imagine I have dealt with quite an array of cases. I think the worst rent arrears case I have ever experienced at Landlord Action was a jaw-dropping £80,000 owed to just one landlord.
So this got me thinking, what is a Landlord’s worst fear when renting out their property? Here, I have compiled a list of top 10 landlord fears along with some advice, which will hopefully assist you in preventing them from becoming a reality.
- Not receiving the rent and evicting a tenant
- Void periods (property left empty)
- Tenants damaging the property
- Deposit dispute
- Discovering a cannabis factory
- Subletting/Airbnb without consent
- Not being properly insured, if there was claim
- Not being compliant with legislation by making a mistake
- Anti-social Behaviour
- Stress of managing a buy-to-let
How many businesses do you know where the owners can rest on their laurels and the money will just roll in? My guess is not many. Guess what? Owning a buy-to-let property is exactly the same. If you want to avoid your fears becoming a reality, you have to be PROACTIVE, or ensure you instruct an agent that will be proactive on your behalf.
Firstly, if you are self-managing, building a good relationship with your tenant from the outset is very important. This way, if your tenant runs into financial difficulties, they are more likely to be honest with you about any problems, and perhaps you can work out a solution before serious arrears build up.
It is also a good idea to build a rapport with the neighbours of your buy-to-let, they might be willing to keep an eye on things and check everything is ok with your property and tenants. This will offer you additional peace of mind and let them know you are a responsible landlord.
If your tenant does miss a rent payment, make a call and follow up with an email/letter requesting payment. Most tenants will advise the landlord of any problems and the issue can be resolved, particularly if the tenant is keen to stay in the property. Tenant’s circumstances can change, but it’s important you know about this sooner rather than later. If the tenant ignores your attempts at communication, then you must start eviction proceedings.
Remember, the eviction process, from serving a notice to an actual eviction date by a bailiff, can be as long as five months, so don’t delay. Time is money, especially when you are not getting paid rent.
If you do have an issue, always act professionally at all times. Do not become too re-active or emotional, which can lead to confrontations and end up making your life more difficult at a time you are trying to take control of a situation. I call this Landlord Rage.
The average void period for a landlord is 22 days according to Direct Line for Business. If your property is costing you money with unnecessary void periods, you must ask yourself, why is this? Why are you unable to re-let? Has the market changed? Are you asking for too much rent? Do you need to be more realistic? Is your agent being pro-active enough? Should you think about instructing several agents on a muti-let? Are you renting the property at a more difficult time of the year, such as August or December? Has the property been furnished to a good standard? What is putting tenants off?
If you don’t have the time or resources to take care of your buy-to-let property and subsequent tenancy yourself, you should instruct a reputable agent. Although many landlords are put off by the additional cost, you must consider how many of your fears would be alleviated by having an expert on hand.
Damage to your property, illegal subletting or finding a cannabis factory at your property are more likely to be prevented if you, or your agent, carries out regular inspections of the property. Remember, you must always get the tenant’s consent to attend. I also advise asking an inventory clerk to attend this visit. That way, if there is damage to the property, it can be documented and photographed as evidence in the event of a deposit dispute, or even a possible court case, if you are trying to recover the cost of damages to your property further down the line.
For more information, listen to the latest episode of “Landlords, Lettings & Deposits” with Paul Shamplina and Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme, who discuss the issue of ‘bad tenants’ and what you can do to avoid them.