Buying an investment property is one thing and finding a good tenant is the next challenge however a landlord’s biggest fear is surely encountering a problematic tenant that takes time and money to evict?
But how can you protect yourself and your property from bad tenants in the first place? There is no guarantee that you will never have this issue during your time as a landlord however long it may be. However, the below steps could help you avoid any potential pitfalls that could save you thousands and prevent a painstaking process of evicting a bad tenant and regaining possession of your property.
1. Run a background check on your perspective tenant(s)
It seems obvious but some landlords are eager to let their property as quickly as possible without conducting thorough checks prior. Perhaps the landlord knows the tenant personally and feels checks and references are unnecessary, or is letting the property without using an agent and is unsure what sort of background checks to undertake.
Conducting credit checks and obtaining references from a previous landlord can help identify the suitability of the perspective tenant before offering a tenancy to that person or persons. It is always best practice to use a local letting or estate agent who have the resources and experience to undertake the required checks and suitability of any perspective tenant prior to a contract being issued.
2. Have a photographic inventory if letting your property furnished
By having a photographic inventory of your fixtures and fittings enables both landlord and tenant to fully understand the condition of the property before the tenant takes occupation. Should the worst happen and the tenant has not looked after your property, then you have clear evidence of the condition if this evidence is to be relied upon at a later date. At the end of the tenancy assuming there have been no problems with the tenant, the photographic inventory reduces any disputes between both parties assuming the property has been returned to the landlord in the same condition it was given to the tenant.
3. Understand the Tenancy Agreement
Ensuring both parties know and fully understand what is required of them during the tenancy agreement prevents problems occurring later down the line. Commercial leases have more requirements for both landlords and tenants to adhere to and often commercial leases provide plenty of detail should a dispute between both parties arise. For residential properties though, Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements (AST’s) are relatively more straightforward.
Whichever type of agreement is in place, as a landlord you need reassurance at the beginning of the term that the tenant fully understands all of their obligations and if there is any uncertainty, that these concerns are addressed before signing.
4. Use a managing agent if living abroad or live a long distance from your property
It is hoped during the tenancy no problems will arise but having a managing agent on hand to deal with these issues can result in problems being rectified quickly and to the satisfaction of the tenant.
A managing agent will regularly ensure your property is being looked after through regular property inspections and dealing with the tenant should they fall behind on rent payments and other matters.
5. Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme
By law renting out a residential property requires the landlord or their managing agent to register the tenant’s deposit under a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDS). This protects both parties if a dispute occurs. For commercial properties there is no such requirement to have a deposit in place although it is regarded as best practice to do have an agreed deposit amount prior to signing.
Deposits provide a level of protection for a landlord if damage has occurred and in some cases the level of damage can outweigh the original deposit amount! Having a sufficient deposit in place allows both parties to know the amount at stake if things start to go wrong but also a form of protection if a dispute arises.
If you are in doubt or suspect concerns about your tenant, it always best to seek advice from your solicitor, surveyor or managing agent in the first instance before taking appropriate action.