8:45 AM, 24th October 2011, About 12 years ago 25
I would very much appreciate your feedback on this video blog and my confessions article below it.
I spent my Sunday afternoon visiting a property where my tenants had moved out without giving notice. They had never been good payers but I had been working to help them get their finances in order. At one point they were two months in arrears but managed to get their rent arrears back down to just one month.
I have a little motto, “I might tolerate slow pay but can’t or wont pay = no way!”
I guess their financial pressures got to be too much for them and they moved out last week without giving notice or a forwarding address. To their credit, they did send a short note explaining they had moved out and enclosed the keys. This has saved me thousands in terms of rental voids and legal costs that would otherwise have been associated with the legal process to recover possession if they had not surrendered the property by handing back the keys with a note.
In these circumstances tenants tend to move out late at night to avoid the shame of the neighbours. I suspect this is what happened here. This is what’s called a midnight flit, the legal terminology is abandonment.
The natural human reaction to things that don’t go to plan is: 1) Surprise, 2) Panic, 3) Blame.
Whenever I’m in a situation like this I try not to get caught up in these negative emotions. I prefer to re-frame them as life experiences and ask myself “what can I do to minimise the chances of this happening again”.
I’m not going to beat myself up too much, however, I already knew the answers as this is not a first. I should have taken a guarantor but I chose not to as these tenants couldn’t find one. At the time I let the property the rental market wasn’t as strong as it is now so I wasn’t spoiled for choice with good tenant applicants. I also felt a bit sorry for these guys so heart won over head. To make it worse I’d not followed my strategy of meeting the tenants in their former home. Had I done so I might have seen that cleanliness was not one of their virtues.
I suppose I can be a bit philosophical about this because I have not spent a single penny of my £70 a month maintenance and refurbishment budget on this property since they moved in two years ago. It could be argued that I shouldn’t need to spend anywhere near as much as I will now if my tenants had respected the property a bit more and reported little problems as they occurred. The flip side of that of course is that I should have been a bit more proactive before the tenancy commenced and during it. Perhaps I should have taken the trouble to visit them when they got into arrears? I can of course make excuses, the property is about an hours drive from my home and the tenants were in arrears so I might have been treading a fine line in terms of harassment if I’d have insisted on meeting them at their home to discuss rent arrears as well as inspecting the property. The bottom line though is that excuses might get you off the hook but they don’t necessarily get results. Lessons learned!
The one remaining question is “will I be able to get the property back to lettable condition and cover the cost of the rental void within my budget of £1,680.”
Only time will tell on that score. I will of course post further updates in the coming weeks.
Mark and his family have been investing in property since 1989, initially in the Norwich area but more recently across the length and breadth of England. Mark created Property118.com as a social network for landlords with a vision of becoming the UK’s largest online property investor directory.
Mark’s experiences and strategies as a landlord are shared here
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