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