The most underrated advice in buy to let

by Paul Shamplina

11:47 AM, 20th April 2011
About 10 years ago

The most underrated advice in buy to let

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The most underrated advice in buy to let
Paul Shamplina of Landlord ActionGuest article written by Paul Shamplina, Founder of LandlordAction.

As an eviction specialist, I am frequently asked for advice on avoiding bad tenants. Over the years, I have developed a list of ‘top tips’ which is worth regularly revisiting.

Much of this is common sense that every landlord should be already doing. Unfortunately, many still don’t

ACT QUICKLY
When landlords encounter a problem, many bury their heads in sand and hope that the problem disappears.  They soon realise that it won’t.

Take the example of rent arrears: if a tenant misses a rent payment, the landlord should address it with the tenant immediately. If not, the danger is that problem could snowball where rent arrears keep accruing. The bigger they grow, the bigger the problem becomes and the harder for the tenant to pay off all of the arrears (and for the landlord to collect all of the rent owed).

Failure to act quickly usually ends up costing landlords time and money.  This highlights the importance of being on top of the administrative aspects of their portfolio which will help alert you of potential problems ahead. The key is to recognise the signs quickly and act on them.

Note: Acting quickly doesn’t necessarily mean resorting to legal action. Where possible, the tenant should always be given a chance.

TENANT REFERENCING
A significant amount of people that have to instruct us to evict a problem tenant have not completed thorough tenant referencing.

There is a lot of choice for landlords in terms of referencing packages and most are relatively inexpensive. Considering this, it is a monumental error for landlords to cut corners and skip out tenant referencing.

A tenant reference will, more often than not, flag up unscrupulous tenants and tenants that carry a higher risk. In addition to this, landlords should acquire the following information:

  • Three months’ bank statements: tells us how much the tenant gets paid, on what date, what other financial commitments they have, and, whether they can afford the rent. This gives a good indication of whether the tenant will pay the rent on time or not.
  • Copies of passports/drivers license are vital. This makes tracing a tenant easier in the event that they abscond.
  • Car registration numbers can be useful for the same reason.

GUARANTOR
Where possible, a landlord should always seek a guarantor whose responsibility is to ‘guarantee’ all future rent should the tenant be unable to do so themselves. If a tenant fails to pay rent, landlords can pursue the guarantors for the money.  However, guarantors should always be referenced the same way that the tenant is to ensure that they have the means to guarantee rent payments.

CREDIT CONTROL
On the day that rent is due, landlords should check their bank accounts to ensure that the rent has been paid on time and in full. This sort of credit control is vital – especially if landlords take responsibility for managing their own properties.

If the rent hasn’t arrived, the tenant should be contacted to find out why.

COMMUNICATION
It is quite clichéd, but property is a people-profession. Therefore, good communication with your tenant is paramount. As well as this, making yourself contactable to the neighbours is a good idea – they’ll be the first to let you know if the tenant is causing problems.

Landlords need to always be aware of what the tenant’s situation is. It is only through clear communication that you will be able to identify and take action to help them. If they are struggling, you need to find out why: is this a one-off problem? Could this develop into a long-term problem? By answering these sorts of questions, you can help the tenant. For example, if they are in arrears, working together and making an affordable payment plan to repay any arrears can be successful.

However, kindness must be matched with firmness, and if the tenant consistently reneges on agreements and promises, it may be the time to evict them.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
There are all sorts of organisations helping tenants these days: housing charities, Citizens Advice Bureau, Local Authorities, etc. However, there aren’t as many places that landlords can turn to. This is why we have kept our advice line service free. Landlords can always contact our team for advice if they have a problem tenant.

If you found this helpful, Landlord Action have put together an eBook about avoiding bad tenants which can be downloaded HERE.

Paul’s articles will cover the following subjects over the coming weeks:

  1. Help for landlords with problem tenantsHow we help landlords
  2. You are here | The most underrated advice in buy to letSome tips on avoiding tenancy failures
  3. Beware of serial bad tenantsA case study of a professional bad tenant
  4. Coming soon | Dealing with Letting Agents – Letting agent vs. Self management & what to look for in an agent
  5. Coming soon | Pre tenancy check list – The essentials before you let
  6. Coming soon | The 3 dangerous types of tenant Part 1 – Professional bad tenant
  7. Coming soon | The 3 dangerous types of tenant Part 2 – Illegal subletting
  8. Coming soon | The 3 dangerous types of tenant Part 3 – Squatters
  9. Coming soon | Avoiding bad tenants – Easy, free things that all landlords should be doing to avoid problems
  10. Coming soon | Beware of Property Investment Sharks – The essentials investors should do to avoid being scammed


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