Letting agency Bramleys has canvassed the opinions of its clients to produce a league table of the biggest bugbears identified by landlords.
For seasoned hands the results will not come as a surprise - but as Bramleys’ lettings manager Michelle McCarthy points out, newcomers ought to be forewarned.
1. Not showing up for viewing - More often than not, landlords will have a full-time job and work around a schedule to fit time in for property viewings. So, when they get a ‘no-show’, they will have wasted valuable time that could have been spent with family and friends or simply time to relax after a hard day's work.
We recommend confirming the full property address, plus the viewing date and time by emailing immediately after booking the viewing. This eliminates any confusion and means there’s less chance of people getting lost or turning up at the wrong property if they’re viewing multiple the same day. Another tip would be to include your mobile phone number in the email, with a request for the viewer to call or text roughly an hour before the viewing and advise the viewer that if you don’t hear from them, you assume they won’t be attending.
2. Rent arrears / no payment - When and how much a tenant pays will have been outlined and explained in the signed tenancy agreement, so when you find that you’re missing payments, this can cause a lot of stress and worry, especially if the rent is your only source of income.
If your tenant has failed to pay rent and you are using an agent to manage the property, they contact the tenant to secure the money. If you are a private landlord, you can begin getting the rent yourself, but you must do so legally. Firstly, contact the tenant followed by any guarantor to find out if this was a technical issue or genuinely a mistake.
If you still can’t resolve payment, you can serve a Section 8 notice informing the tenant that if they don't pay within a further 14 days from this written communication, you intend to take them to court. You can find out more over at GOV.UK.”
3. Properties left a mess when moving out - Unfortunately, when you rent out your property to a tenant, it effectively becomes their home for the duration, meaning they’re entitled to live how they choose to live. However, when returning the property, you expect to receive it in the same condition as when initially let out (minus damages caused by wear and tear). Sometimes, this is not the case, and landlords are left to fix the mess.
Dealing with messy tenants can be an excruciating experience; that is why you should provide regular inspections to minimise the repairs and works at the end of the tenancy. If your property still isn’t left in the best state, we would also recommend using the tenant’s deposit to pay for cleaning services.
Cleaning charges are a common reason for deposit deductions, and covering those costs is precisely what the deposit is designed for.
4. Not attending to the garden - Garden maintenance is a common cause of dispute between a tenant and landlord. Tenants often assume it’s up to the landlord to take care of gardens and landlords expect the tenant to do the work. But, who’s right?
We recommend landlords clarify all garden maintenance responsibilities in the tenancy agreement and make sure this is highlighted before signing. This will save time and reduce any future misunderstandings. Tenants are expected to abide by whatever is in their tenancy agreement, so if it's not included in there, it will be left down to you, the landlord.
5. Claiming to have no pets, then moving one in - Many landlords are wary of animals in their properties due to the potential damage to furniture, carpets and paintwork and issues with fleas, smells and allergies. So when a tenant hides the fact they have a pet rather than communicating with the landlord, this can be very upsetting.
While your first instinct is not to allow pets, with a lack of rental properties on the market that allow pets, being open to the idea could lead to a more extensive pool of tenants and the possibility to charge a premium rent.
Other bugbears included not ventilating the property properly, resulting in mould and dampness, decorating without giving notice or asking for permission, reporting repairs but not allowing access to contractors, tenants performing poor repair jobs and complaints from neighbours, i.e. noise.
Renting out a property can be the perfect investment and provide a good source of income. However, landlords who deal with all tenant issues without assistance may experience greater pressures and stress.
Don’t overlook the prospect of using a property management company. The assistance of a professional could be hugely beneficial as they can support you with managing point of contact for tenants, ensuring that rent is paid on time, providing regular inspections, dealing with legal problems and you will often find less chance of tenant turnover. Make tenant retention a priority this year.
* Michelle McCarthy is lettings manager at Bramleys agency *
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