Renting your home involves more than simply improving the kerb appeal of your home, making updates, repairs and renovations to make it comfortable for the tenants and to improve the value of your home. When you are renting your property in the UK, the most important point you have to deal with is the fear that the tenants would turn out to be huge problems for you and that you would not know how to deal with them in a professional manner.
There are two points that need to be discussed:
- Keeping the problem tenants away, and
- Dealing with problem tenants
In this post, we would discuss these two different, yet extremely important points of how to keep away the tenants who tend to cause trouble, and deal with them in case you somehow end up with them. Let’s discuss both of these points separately, in detail.
How to Keep Terrible Tenants Away?
At some point in our lives, we have all heard at least one story of a tenant who damaged the property or those who gave such a tough time to the landlord that they were almost near to tears or ripping their hair off. When you are landlord, these stories become more frequent as well-wishers try to ‘warn’ you about those horrible tenants just lurking around the corners. Instead of becoming paranoid and hounding your tenants to keep them in check, you need to have proper measures in place that would not allow the tenants to step out of line. Here are the best (and professional) ways to keep the horror-story tenants away and how to keep them from dumping a truckload of stress on you.
1. Doing a Background Check on Tenants
Although it is inappropriate that you have an investigator tailing each of your possible tenants on your shortlist, you do need to have a credit check on the tenant so that you can make sure that the tenant is responsible and is financially able to pay the rent on time. If you have hired the services of the online estate agents from iMoveEstates, you will be provided with the services of Tenant Feedback and Assistance, as well as Tenant Credit Check.
The agents are skilled professionals who are able to see through the tenants that apply for a viewing. They will guide you about them, do a credit check and provide you with their credit scores so that you know if they can afford the rent you are asking for or not. They will also help you negotiate the rent with the tenant, as negotiation is one in which homeowners sometimes find themselves at a loss.
When your house is listed on the most-visited property portals like Zoopla, Rightmove, NeedAProperty and PrimeLocation, then you are most likely to get only serious buyers. This is because the traffic that hits these websites consists of only the people who are looking forward to buy or rent a home. When you have your house listed on these sites, then you automatically increase your chances of getting serious buyers, and hence, responsible tenants.
2. Having a Detailed, Written and Signed Tenancy Agreement
The biggest mistake tenants make is not having a written policy in the agreement and have it signed by the tenant. Promises that are not made on paper would be of no use. If you have a policy of charging a late rent fee, then you should put it on paper. If you have a policy that involves a curfew at 12 in the night, then include it in the tenancy agreement and have it signed. All the division of responsibilities should be clearly defined in the tenancy and make sure that all the rules that you want your tenant to follow should be included in the agreement.
If you fail to do so, your tenant can hold you against the fact that they did not sign for the rule that you are ‘forcing’ them to follow. This is why you should take your time writing your tenancy, making sure that every little detail is covered in the agreement, so that you do not need to haggle with the tenant and waste your precious time and energy in trying to convince them of the importance of the rule that you have set in place. As a general rule, these are some of the most basic points that are included in a tenancy agreement:
- Full names and identity details of those involved
- The amount of rent decided
- The mode of payment of rent
- The time after which the rent will be reviewed (and how)
- The amount of the deposit
- Details of the deposit protection
- The complete details of the reasons for which the deposit can be held back by the landlord
- The start date of the tenancy
- The end date of the tenancy
- All the conditions around subletting
- The tenant’s role and responsibilities
- The landlord’s role and responsibilities
When all your policies are written down, you can discuss with your tenant and explain all the rules and their need. Stay your ground in places where you do not think that negotiation would be beneficial for you (e.g., removing the policy of charging a late fee), but be flexible in other areas (maybe relax the curfew for weekends) so that both of you are on the same page. With the tenancy agreement signed, you will rest at ease knowing that the tenant has agreed to the policies and if there is trouble, you can take your case to higher authorities.
3. Having a Proper Landlord Insurance in Place
Landlord insurance is there to protect you, no matter how sour a situation turns. If you or your tenant(s) face a problem, the insurance will be there to protect you. How is landlord insurance different from house insurance? Well, you get the benefit of additional coverage of these points:
- Deliberate damage to your house by the tenant
- Liability for mishaps in your house causing injury
- Loss of earnings if the tenants need to move out of the property (following an insured event)
- Unpaid rent by the tenants
The landlord insurance would guarantee that your assets would be protected even in the face of the potential risks that landlords in the UK usually face.
4. Taking Inventory with the Tenant
Because you are responsible for most of the repairs that need to be made in the house, some tenants may find this a great chance to misuse your property and damage it. This is why taking an inventory is so important. And taking it with the tenant is vital.
In order to be on the same page, and so that the tenant cannot later accuse you of having a misleading inventory, you need to do the inventory of the contents of your property with the tenant. Bring a camera with you so that you can take pictures as well, which you can file as photographic evidence. When the inventory is done, have it signed by the tenant so that you will be protected later on.
5. Minimise the Possibility of Damage with Tough and Hard-Wearing Items
There can be times when the tenants ask you to repair damages, which, as a landlord, you must. But what if the damages are due to items that are damaged easily? In order to prevent this from happening, have some rough-and-tough materials in the home so that they can last for a long time under harsh conditions. This will make sure that you would need to make as little repairs in the home as possible. Some of the most important items that can help you do so include:
- Washable Eggshell Paint: So that you don’t need to have a paint job done each time the tenant’s child decides to choose the wall as their canvas of choice
- Dark Carpets with Stain Protection: Dark coloured carpets can hide stains easily and if you invest in a carpet protection, the spills of Heinz and chocolate milk can be wiped off without leaving any trace
- High Quality Ceramic or Vinyl Tiles: Tiles tend to break or chip off if they are not durable, and are exposed to a harsh environment. Using a high quality set of tiles made from ceramic or vinyl will make sure that you would not need to replace them as often
- Smoke Detectors: These devices would alert the tenants in the case of a fire hazard which they can safely put down in time. This would save a lot of damage to your property, and to the tenants as well
How to Keep Terrible Tenants In Check?
No matter how many precautions you have set in place, and how satisfied you have been with the tenant before they moved in, they can suddenly reveal their true colours while you are left flabbergasted about how this happened at all. Some trouble tenants do slip through screenings and checks and land in your lap. Relax. We have plans to DEAL with them, too. But remember, you need to have the aforementioned details in check so that you can be protected if and when you take the final step—eviction.
1. Inspections on a Regular Basis
In order to make sure that everything is running smoothly when you are renting your home, you need to inspect the property on a regular basis for any damages.
As a landlord, you have the right to show up for regular inspections. However, in order to maintain a healthy relationship with the tenant and not give them a cause to create problems, you need to notify them beforehand. Stick to the mode of notification (mail, email, fax etc.) that you have agreed to in the tenancy agreement.
When you arrive, take note of the condition of the contents of the house, comparing with the photos that you have taken in the inventory. Check little details like dripping faucets and broken tiles or window panes, and ask your tenants about them. Also have a list of questions ready about the running of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems and electrical and gas appliances. Make sure that everything is working smoothly, and if there is a need for a system or equipment to be serviced, note it down and assure the tenant that you would have it repaired as soon as possible.
You can have an inspection of the property you are renting every three months. This will keep the tenants alert and they would take more care of your belongings than if you have inspections at a larger timeframe, say, on an annual basis.
2. Communicate Well with the Tenants
Communication is the key to creating and managing a healthy relationship with the tenants. If the tenants are causing issues for you, you need to handle them professionally, and the first step to do that is by communicating the problem. You can do this by communicating them first via professional means, i.e., phone calls and emails. If they refuse to pick your calls or reply to your emails, you need to meet them in person. If the tenant is causing a delay in the payment of rent, ask them the reason for the delay and if they can meet the requirements for paying the rent on time. Remind them that they can be evicted, and as per the conditions of the tenancy agreement, their deposit can be withheld.
Life is too short to remain stuck with tenants who make you want to bash your head on the wall. If you have had enough, and need to get them to leave, you have the right to evict them.
If you do not have any experience in evicting a tenant, do not shy away from asking for help. There are two ways to evict a tenant:
- By issuing a Section 8
- By issuing a Section 21
This Section is used when the tenant is tardy in paying the rent on time, or has not paid the rent for a long time. Section 8 can also be used in the case when the tenant is becoming an annoyance for the neighbours.
A Section 21 notice is given with a period of time in which the tenant has to leave the property. In this eviction, you do not have to give the court a reason to get your property back.
If you are looking to rent your property from a reliable online estate agent who would take a credit check on your tenants and would provide you feedback and assistance in the renting process, then choose a package from iMoveEstates and let go of your troubles!