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Top tips to avoid tenant disputes

Dealing with tenant disputes is one of the biggest challenges landlords must overcome, and can sometimes prove both expensive and time-consuming if mishandled.

To help keep disputes to a minimum, you should always aim to adopt a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach, and that is why Luke Marchbanks, the head of letting agency Belvoir Bournemouth, has compiled some simple steps to help you troubleshoot potential problems before they have the chance to become major issues:

1. Behind closed doors


A visit to the property is the only way to know for certain what’s going on behind closed doors.

Inspections are a safety net for the landlord, allowing him or her to enter the rental unit and assess if the tenant is looking after the property and living within the terms of the tenancy agreement.

These visits are essential in order for you to uncover any problems and stop them early in their tracks. Important issues or adverse behaviour to look out for include evidence of malicious damage, subletting, smoking or signs of pets that have been moved into the property without your permission.

A scheduled quarterly visit to the property will also provide a platform for a face-to-face catch up with the tenant and give you the opportunity to discover if they have any concerns that need addressing.

2. Deteriorate and depreciate

Make sure deterioration doesn’t turn your rental property into a depreciating house of horrors.

As part of your inspection it’s also vital to carry out a maintenance assessment.

If you do discover any deterioration or necessary repairs then deal with these as soon as possible. Unresolved maintenance issues don’t disappear – in fact many can escalate, causing extensive and expensive damage to the fabric of the property if not tackled at speed.

Good communication between a tenant and landlord is also useful here and it’s important that your tenant is made aware that they should report any maintenance problems that occur between inspections.

3. Pay day

Payment problems can negatively affect your property’s profit potential.

To help avoid delayed payments it’s wise to encourage your tenant to set up a standing order. This means the money will be transferred straight to your account each month and the tenant won’t need to worry about remembering to make the payment themselves.

If a payment is delayed then it’s important to act early in order to avoid an ongoing issue where multiple rental payments are missed. And, again, good communication is key. Nine times out of ten a late payment will be an oversight or genuine mistake so always find out why it has happened and when the issue is likely to be resolved. 

4. Check it out!

Securing a good tenant at the beginning of the rental process helps prevent problems later.

It’s vital to check out a tenant’s suitability before a tenancy begins. As a landlord you want to make sure that your property will be looked after and the tenant can afford it and there are several processes which can help you make an informed assessment of this.

At Belvoir Bournemouth we’ve got a number of stages to our checks for each new tenancy. The first is the credit check. This will reveal any CCJs, bankruptcy or anything else that waves a red flag in terms of the tenant’s credit history.

We then carry out an employer’s reference in order to confirm that the tenant holds the position they say they do and that they will be able to afford the rent.

The final check we make is with their previous landlord. If a tenant has rented before we can ask for a reference regarding whether rent was always paid on time and in full and how the property was left at the end of the tenancy.

5. Review and react

Ignored complaints don’t go away – always review and react at speed.

From time to time issues do arise that a tenant will want to complain about. If this happens it’s important to act quickly. Overlooked complaints can accelerate and failure to adequately deal with an issue can become an additional complaint in itself.

When troubleshooting a grievance it’s important to be proactive, open and honest – listen carefully, review and then react. Be clear about what you’re going to do to resolve the complaint, giving timescales too.

More often than not issues can be settled straight away and informally before they grow, but always be transparent and never over-promise. If a complaint is unrealistic or impossible to resolve make sure that your tenant is aware of this and give your reasons why.

6. Trick or treat?

Turn potentially tricky tenancies into a treat with a helping hand from the experts.

A letting agent’s help is invaluable in the fight to prevent troublesome tenancies.

We’ve got the experience to spot the key indicators of a potentially problematic tenancy, plus the knowledge of how to resolve them.

We have various processes in place to help protect a landlord’s property too. We can carry out credit checks and references, organise regular inspections, commission contractors to resolve maintenance before it escalates, chase late rental payments and deal with tenant complaints to the satisfaction of both parties.

As expert agents we can professionally look after the management of your investment property, helping to turn potentially tricky tenancies into a successful happy ending. 

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