Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Landlords how to avoid problem tenants and save yourself time, money and grief.....

A Landlords biggest challenge comes when something goes badly wrong in a tenancy. The twin fears of a tenant not paying or not looking after a property can lead to a nightmare scenario of lost income, damage and stress. What does a landlord do then?
This blog is split into three parts because there is quite a bit to it. A damn fine read it won't be. It might just save you time, money and grief though!


Part One will look at how to avoid problem tenants in the first place.


Part Two will look at practical solutions to tenancy problems by asking "Is your tenant Mad, Bad or Sad?"


Part Three will look at legal solutions to tenancy problems


PART 1: Prevention of Problems is better than a cure. After all….



Talk about the blinking obvious, but the best way to deal with a problem is not to let them happen in the first place! This can be easier to achieve than it sounds, but only if you look out for the warning signs. This begins before the prospective tenant views the property the very first time you speak with the tenant. It continues right up to the point when they sign the contract.


As a landlord particularly those without the support of an agent, you have to a certain type of person. You have to be fair, open minded and compassionate. But you also need to have it within you to be objective, firm and sometimes selfish – yes selfish!


As long as you act within the law you decide the sort of person or family you are looking for, don’t be bullied or cajoled into doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable. The point at which you do this you are on a slippery path. Always remain in control.


How to remain in control


1.      Ask searching questions of your prospective tenant even before you allow them to view the property. A topic in itself for another day but think of it like going on a date. Be cautious from the outset. Who are they? What do they do for a living? Where are they renting currently? How long have they been in their current property? Why are they moving? What are their gardening skills like? What would their current landlord say about them? Are the kids under control? How tidy is their car? How well do they present?
If they are scruffy buggers or their car is like a tip, it might just be a warning sign!

2.      Vet your tenant thoroughly using an independent referencing agent. The cost of this is no more than £20 per tenant. It could be the best £20 you spend. After all you spent thousands on buying the property in the first place.

3.      Be wary of taking on tenants with bad debt and credit history. Tenants with a poor credit rating are not necessarily bad people. However play the percentage game and avoid unnecessary risk. If you do take them. Ask for a bigger deposit, 3 months rent up front or a Guarantor.

4.      Don't promise to do something straight away. Impulse decisions often lead to poor decision making. Give yourself some breathing space to decide whether you want to accept that dog, provide a washing machine, take a person on DSS and so on.

5.      Take personal references too. In small towns like Falmouth, Truro, Helston, Redruth and surrounds you may know friends of friends. Who your tenant chooses as their referee may tell you a lot.

6.      Use the power of social media as a tool to find out a little about your prospective tenant. Anyone can tell you what you want to hear – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are incredibly useful resources. Often problems come from the tenants friends and hangers on rather than the tenant themselves. Does your tenant get ‘trollied’ three times a week? Have they just come out of a violent relationship? Are they happy in their current job? Answers to these are often obvious in the murky folds of a Facebook account or hidden behind a Twitter rant.

7.      Get a tenant to write and tell you why they want the property. Get them to send you pictures of how they live. The good ones that want your property will do this.

8.      If you are not sure about a prospective tenant then don't give them a contract. If you do give them a contract because you are ‘up against it’ make it 6 months.


 From a landlord’s perspective, if the letting process becomes unnecessarily complicated then don't be frightened to pull out. If your prospective tenants fail to pay you a deposit on time, are less than forthcoming with references, change the goalposts on the starting date, announce that granny is moving or they have a pet etc. these are warning signs of a tenancy that is unlikely to be plain sailing! My advice is to withdraw your offer and go back to the drawing board by looking for a new tenant. It is far better to do this now, rather than have the nagging doubt once they are in.


There are lots of decent, fantastic,lovely, caring respectful tenants out there. It's the charlatans the ‘wrong-uns’ you have to look out for. They don't go around with labels attached – it is your job (and my job) to scratch below the surface.  What do you feel intuitively about them? Is that little voice telling you to beware? Take a friend along when you meet the prospective tenant. If there is a couple split them up and ask the same questions – they won't expect it but establish whether they are being consistent. Beware of fairy tales and sob stories. Think Little Red  Riding Hood, The Boy who Cried Wolf and Hansel & Grettle. They are Grimm Fairy tales in more ways than one...

Above all else Remember Prevention is better than Cure.

As one wise doctor once said….

“What fits your busy schedule better? Exercising one hour a day or being dead

24 hours a day?’

Exercise your right to be in Control!

Next Week: Is your Tenant Mad, Sad or Bad?


No comments:

Post a Comment