LHA Top Tips for landlords. Article 6 in a series of 8
Stay in contact to build a positive relationship.
- The most valuable asset to a trouble free tenancy is regular, open communication. Ensure both you and the tenant maintain up to date contact details and if possible obtain details of next of kin or close contacts so that you can always reach the tenant if issues arise. Ask the tenant to complete a form for this which states that you can contact all names given for any matter relating to the tenancy. Call from time to time to ensure they know that you want to be told of any maintenance issues as they arise. Some tenants will be nervous about seeming to make a fuss and this can be more costly for you if an issue is left unresolved.
- Within the first two-three weeks of the tenancy write to the tenant giving at least 24 hours notice of your intention to visit to genuinely ensure that they are settling in and that there are no maintenance issues (you will have the signed inventory to check condition prior to the tenants arrival). Ensure they understand where water can be turned off, how to switch the fuse box when a light bulb blows etc.. Even better, post written instructions in the relevant part of the property.
- Always have spare electric heaters and kettles. If the heating breaks down you have a responsibility to provide your tenant with heating and hot water whilst the repair is being addressed.
- If repairs arise it is important to establish two things immediately: responsibility and urgency.
- Remember that your tenant has a copy of their ‘Tenancy Agreement at a glance”. Remind them of this if they phone to raise small repairs (such as a broken light bulb) or wear and tear. Bear in mind that LHA tenants do generally cause more wear and tear as they are spending more time in the property.
- All repairs should be prioritised according to urgency, this is particularly important if you have a number of properties to manage. At Castledene we define various repair issues as 1,3,7 and 28 day response times and communicate this immediately to the tenant to ensure their expectations are realistic and they understand that you are dealing with their repair issue professionally and reasonably.
- Remember that unlike working tenants, LHA tenants are able to be at home during the day to accept repairs and allow access. As they are more often at home a repair may seem more troublesome to them than a tenant who is out at work all day.
- To manage your repairs always have more than one tradesman in each discipline both to keep their costs competitive and to ensure you always have back-up for emergencies. Ensure all your trades people are qualified and carry relevant insurance and certificates to undertake the work.
- Ask your contractors to comment on all repairs as they may be well placed to highlight misuse or malicious damage.
- After 6 months contact your tenant in writing with at least 24 hours notice to arrange an inventory check. This enables you to ensure that the tenant is looking after your property. Make sure, again that the inventory has date stamped photos or video and do not be afraid to highlight any problem areas that you know are the tenant’s responsibility. Once again ensure that the tenant signs and agrees the inventory.
About John Paul
John Paul is a portfolio landlord in the North East and founder of the Castledene Group of letting agents which employs 17 ARLA-trained staff. The business has client money protection with NALS, PI insurance and subscribes to the Property Ombudsman Code of Practice. Offices are located in Read More