London Landlord Deposit Disputes Highest In the UK
When it comes to the end of a tenancy and the return of the tenant deposit, there are plenty of things that can go wrong, wherever your property is based.

However, according to a recent report, London landlord deposit disputes appear to be the highest in the UK.

This blog delves deeper into the reasons behind landlord/tenant disputes in London and what can be done to avoid these disagreements altogether.

 

London Deposit Disputes

According to Property Wire, London is home to the highest cases of rental disputes between landlords and tenants.

This data comes from Ome, a deposit replacement membership scheme, who found that a sizable 37% of all rental disagreement cases last year came from the UK’s capital. London was followed by the South East with 16% of cases and the North West coming in at 11%.

Why London? It could be partly due to the fact that rental prices are far higher, demanding hefty deposits. The greater the sum being argued over, the more likely both parties will want a return on their investment.

 

Common Causes of Deposit Disputes

The data showed that the number one reason for deposit disputes across the majority of the UK, including London, was poor communication. Whereas, in the South East, the most common cause was cleanliness at check out.

Other common reasons for disputes include;

  • Damage to property
  • Cleanliness
  • Missed payments
  • Inventory discrepancies

 

Landlord Deposit Dispute: Wear and Tear

What constitutes fair wear and tear is an issue that often occurs at the end of the tenancy, as the definition can vary from person to person. Our guide on fair wear and tear sets out what is considered to be normal and unavoidable wear and tear and how to help tenants prevent further damage.

 

Landlord Deposit Dispute: Cleaning

Cleanliness at check-out was another common issue when it came to rental deposit disputes last year. This can be avoided through regular property inspections and investing in a pre-check out service.

 

How to Avoid Deposit Disputes

If you’re a landlord or letting agent in London, minimising the chance of disputes will most likely save you time and money in the long term (not to mention stress!)

Here are some of the ways you can avoid a dispute in the first place;

 

Tenancy Deposit Protection

Ensure the deposit is protected in a tenancy deposit scheme as this is a legal requirement. Failure to do so could lead to your tenant demanding a full return of their deposit or more.

 

Tenancy Deposit Return Time Limit

At the end of a tenancy, landlords must return the deposit within 10 days after any deposit deductions have been agreed.

 

Invest in a Professional Inventory Service

One of the most important steps you can take to avoid deposit disputes is by starting the tenancy right with a thorough and professional inventory.

A professional inventory report will set out the condition of the property and its contents at check-in, highlighting any changes at the end of the tenancy. This vital document provides evidence to support you if you need to deduct from the deposit. For example, if there is damage to the property or furnishings beyond normal wear and tear or if there are items missing from the final inventory.

An inventory report signed by the tenant is your best protection if your tenant decides to raise a dispute over deposit deductions. Without it, you are very unlikely to recover the funds for maintenance and repair.

 

Consider a Pre-Check Out Service

Another way to avoid a dispute is to provide tenants with a pre-check out service at the end of their tenancy. As part of this service, a property clerk will visit the property and provide advice to tenants on what maintenance needs to be undertaken in order to have their full deposit returned.

The benefits of a pre-check out service include smoother transitions between tenants, less maintenance needed and therefore less chance of deposit disputes.

 

Regular Property Inspections

Organising regular property inspections to your rental helps to minimise the chance of disputes as experienced clerks can check that the property is being properly maintained by tenants and reduce the chance of damage at check-out.

 

Positive Communications

It may sound obvious, but this is a common problem amongst landlords / letting agents and tenants, particularly in London. A breakdown in communication or negative feedback can lead to a lack of trust and a greater chance of deposit disputes when you reach the end of the tenancy agreement.

To avoid this, it’s best to give a positive first impression to tenants and maintain regular and honest lines of communication.

 

Landlord Deposit Dispute Advice

If issues can’t be solved through direct and honest communications, it may be worth seeking the advice of a dispute resolution service to resolve the issue. An impartial adjudicator will be able to assess the dispute and hopefully come to an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.

If it comes to this, having a detailed inventory report is vital. At No Letting Go, we provide professional inventory reports to landlords, letting agents and property businesses throughout the UK. With expert local branches around the country and the latest property technology at our disposal, we’re experienced at helping property professionals protect their investment.

Find your local London property inventory service here.

Don’t let a deposit dispute affect your business, explore our property inventory service today.

Although we all do our best to avoid them, void periods are a fact of life and most landlords and letting agents will find themselves with a vacant rental property on their hands at one point or another.

If you find yourself with an empty property, it’s important to keep it safe and secure. We’ve got some advice on how to protect vacant property and keep it in good condition until your next tenant comes along.

From security solutions to regular inspections, keep your property safe with these tips.

 

How Long Can A Rental Property Be Vacant?

If your rental property is left vacant for an extended period of time, you will need to inform your insurer. How long this period is can vary from insurer to insurer, so make sure you read the small print in your contract.

Usually, when a rental property is left vacant the insurance will go up as it is considered to be more of a risk.

 

Vacant Rental Property: The Risks

With no one living in the property to take care of day-to-day maintenance and inform you if something goes wrong, vacant properties present more of a risk for landlords and letting agents.

Here are some of the potential issues you could come across;

  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Squatters
  • Leaks or water damage
  • Fires
  • Electrical faults
  • Structural damage
  • Mould
  • Pest infestations
  • Weather damage

 

Vacant Property Security: The Solutions

While these potential issues sound scary, there are several steps you can take to ensure your property remains safe and secure.

 

Secure Doors and Windows

It’s good practice to change the locks between tenancies to minimise the risk of unlawful occupation. Having secure doors and windows also helps to prevent theft or squatting.

The RLA recommends using five lever mortice locks for external timber doors or a multi-point locking system for PVC doors, as well as door chains.

 

Regular Property Maintenance

Regular property maintenance is vital throughout the year, whether your rental property is occupied or not. By keeping on top of maintenance tasks, when it comes to vacant buildings, there is a smaller chance of structural or internal damage.

The main tasks to address include;

  • Exterior maintenance e.g. replacing missing roof tiles or clearing guttering
  • Regular servicing of boilers, pipes
  • Interior maintenance

 

Manage Utilities

Depending on how long the property is left vacant, it may be wise to switch off certain utilities such as the electrics to minimise the risk of fire. However, if you’re dealing with an empty building over the winter period, scheduling the heating to come on periodically can prevent mould growth.

Perhaps the most important measure you can take is to ensure all smoke and CO checks are up to date.

 

Installing Security Systems

Installing an alarm system or extra site security can discourage theft or vandalism to your property. Security services can include;

  • 24 hour security cameras
  • Alarm system
  • Security lights
  • Property security services

 

Alert the Neighbours

Having a quick chat with the neighbours or sending round a letter is a cost-effective way of protecting your investment. Asking the neighbours to act as property guardians and alert you if they spot any suspicious activity or leaks before they create permanent damage can save you time and money in the long run.

 

Take Advantage of PropTech

PropTech innovation has come on leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and there are plenty of solutions out there to help landlords and letting agents protect their properties remotely. From leak detection to remote temperature control and live streaming- you’re sure to find an app to put your mind at ease.

 

Vacant Property Inspections

Vacant property inspections are vital for the protection and security of your property. Most insurance companies require vacant properties to be visited weekly or fortnightly to check for any security or management issues and ensure they are dealt with promptly.

 

Improve Your Marketing Materials

No landlord or letting agent wants a vacant rental property on their hands. To avoid this situation from occurring in the first place, it pays to invest in quality marketing materials.

We offer a 360 degree virtual property photography service to show off your property to a high standard, producing images for use in marketing and inventory reporting.

 

No Letting Go’s Vacant Property Protection Services

As experienced partners to landlords, letting agents and property professionals around the UK, we understand the importance of keeping your property safe and secure during void periods.

As part of our services, we offer essential vacant property inspections to check for any damage and arrange for swift repairs. Whether you are a landlord living overseas or a letting agency needing help with your portfolio, our dedicated clerks are on hand to help.

Discover the rest of our property inventory services here.

Budgets can be tough to manage for landlord and letting agents alike. Sometimes, property maintenance costs can eat into your finances dramatically.

From what’s involved to how to save, we offer insights and guidance on how to best manage budgets when undergoing maintenance on your property portfolio.

 

What Is Included In Maintenance Costs?

Before we go into budget management, we need to be clear on what maintenance costs are involved in renting a residential property.

Here’s a list of all the things to consider when it comes to maintenance;

 

Repair Costs

As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to fix any repairs needed resulting from normal wear and tear. This can include;

  • Repairing or replacing white goods and appliances
  • Fixing boiler issues
  • Repairing any electrical faults

 

Refurbishment & Decoration

Keeping your property looking fresh for new tenants is an important part of being a good landlord and attracting the right target tenants. It’s recommended that carpets are replaced every 5-7 years, and properties are fully redecorated every 3 years.

However, if your property is looking particularly lived in after a tenancy or you come across some questionable stains, you might need to redecorate more often.

Here’s what else is included in refurbishment and decoration;

  • Painting throughout
  • Replacing carpets or flooring
  • Replacing curtains
  • Replacing old, tired furniture items every 10-15 years
  • Replacing kitchen and bathroom fittings every 10-15 years

 

Exterior Maintenance

It’s not just the inside that needs attention. Staying on top of the exterior of your property can help ward off future structural issues and save money in the long run.

Here’s what it could include;

  • Replacing missing roof tiles
  • Clearing guttering
  • Garden fence maintenance
  • Window cleaning and repair

 

Interior Cleaning

Thorough cleaning is essential between tenancies, and you may also need to arrange for cleaning to be done during a tenancy. If the windows need cleaning for example, or if the property has suffered water damage.

 

Property Inspections

Particularly important during void periods, regular property inspections are an important part of maintenance for buy to let properties.

Inspections protect your property from theft, vandalism or damage from unnoticed leaks, preventing the need for extensive future repairs. We offer a professional vacant property inspection service to give you peace of mind that your investment is protected.

 

Gas Safety Certificates & Safety Checks

UK landlords have a legal requirement to arrange regular safety checks, including;

  • An annual gas safety inspection from a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • Electrical safety checks
  • PAT tests for white goods
  • Energy Performance Certificate
  • Ensure smoke detectors are present and working

 

Your Time

This cost is usually overlooked by most landlords, but the time you put into the maintenance of your portfolio really adds up. Particularly if you are balancing your duties as a landlord with another paid job, extra time spent on maintenance may mean losing out on wages.

If this is the case, it may be worth investing in a full management service from a property management company so you can swap a management fee for more time for other ventures.

 

How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Rental Property?

 

Maintenance costs will vary depending on several factors;

  • Size of the property
  • Age of the property- older homes require more upkeep
  • Location of the property- service charges vary dependant on area
  • Type and number of tenants

For example, if you rent to students or large families, you may have to fork out more for accidental damage repair costs.

 

Landlord Maintenance Costs: How to Save Money

Now we’ve discussed what’s involved, it’s time to look at ways to save.

 

Choose Your Target Tenant Wisely

While finding tenants may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to maintenance, the tenant you choose could have an effect on your maintenance costs.

For example, as mentioned above, renting to students can result in more accidental damage as there tends to be more people living in one property, and tenants have a reputation for partying! Similarly, renting to tenants with pets is likely to involve more refurbishment at the end of the tenancy.

Deciding on your target tenant from the get-go is an important part of the process.

 

Act Fast When It Comes to Repairs

The quicker you act on repairs and maintenance tasks, the more popular you’ll be with tenants and the less likely they are to develop into serious issues. Usually, dealing with problems as soon as they arise means you can save money in the long run as you have time to think about the best possible solution.

Paying for maintenance costs early will also help you to manage your monthly budgets and keep on top of your spend.

 

Buy Quality Furnishings

Opting for the cheapest furnishings available isn’t always wise. The cost of replacing flimsy furniture every year is likely to add up to more than investing in quality in the first place. This is particularly true for mattresses, sofas and dining tables. Our blog on furnishing your rental property will help you with some handy tips.

 

Keep It Simple

When it comes to decorating your properties, more is less. You don’t need to go overboard to provide a comfortable home for tenants. Simple, modern furniture without too many frills will appeal to most and will be kinder on the budget.

Tip: Avoid painting everything white as it will require more upkeep. Neutral, mid-tones are much more forgiving.

 

Don’t Skimp on Landlord Insurance

Landlord insurance is essential when renting a property. Finding the right deal can help you save when things go wrong. Quality contents or accidental damage insurance will protect you in the case of weather damage or accidental spills.

Make sure you shop around for the best deals.

 

Check Council Tax Exceptions

If one of your rental properties is vacant for a period, or you are performing refurbishment that renders your property inhabitable, you may be eligible for Council Tax redemption. This will leave you with some extra cash to spend on essential repairs and decoration.

 

Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance

By increasing the energy-saving potential of your property, you could save money that can be injected back into the maintenance budget.

By reinforcing insulation in your rental property, you could save a significant amount in tax.

 

Know When To Ask For Help

While rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in can save on service fees, it’s not always the best option.

Botched DIY can end up costing more than the original problem, and when it comes to electrical or plumbing issues, professional is always best.

 

Get More Than One Quote

When you need to pick up the phone to a plumber or tradesperson, make sure you do your research.

Particularly important when it comes to bigger jobs, getting several quotes will help you find the most competitive price.

 

Invest In A Comprehensive Inventory Service

Compiling a comprehensive written and photographic list of all of the items and furnishings and their condition within your property is one of the best ways to recuperate maintenance costs at the end of a tenancy.

If there is any damage beyond normal wear and tear, it will be much easier to deduct the appropriate costs from the deposit.

A professional property inventory service provides an impartial account of your property and is delivered using high quality photography in a handy, easily accessible digital report.

 

Landlord Maintenance Responsibilities: Help From No Letting Go

The costs of being a landlord are wide ranging. From agent fees to mortgage interest, balancing your rental income with outgoing costs can be tough.

That’s why sometimes it pays to get some help. Whether it’s repairs and maintenance reports or inventory services, our teams of experienced clerks could help streamline your business so you can take control of your budget.

Browse our full list of property management services to find out how we can help.

Achieving a high rental yield is one of the main goals for successful landlords. In order to cover the costs of mortgage repayments, repairs and maintenance, an adequate rental yield is essential to stay afloat.

Although you may feel constrained by property location or property prices, there are ways to maximise profits and cut outgoings.

From making simple renovations, to targeting specific tenants, here’s some straightforward advice on how to increase rental yield on your rental property.

What Does Rental Yield Mean?

As a landlord, you’ll be more than familiar with the importance of rental yields. For anyone new to the game or thinking of taking the plunge into property investment, here’s a simple definition.

Rental yield is the annual return on investment you make as a landlord on a buy-to-let property. It’s the remaining amount of money left over after rent, divided by the value of the property and is expressed as a percentage.

How to Work Out Rental Yield on Rental Property

To work out the rental yield of your property, first deduct all annual expenses and outgoings from the annual rental income, then divide this number by the purchase price of the property. Next, times this number by 100 to find the percentage yield.

Alternatively, find a free rental yield calculator online to do the hard work for you.

What is a Good Rental Yield?

In order to comfortably cover outgoings, a rental yield of 8% or more is deemed good.

However, the average rental yield differs vastly depending on location. For example, cities like Liverpool and Nottingham enjoy higher rental yields of up to 12%, while London is more challenging and tends to stay around 4 – 5%.

Decide on a Tenant Profile

Having an ideal tenant profile in mind makes it easier to tailor your property to the needs and desires of tenants. By offering an attractive property to specific renters, you’ll be able to charge premium prices and stand out from the crowd.

For example, if you are renting to young professionals, it’s worth choosing properties in areas with good transport links and furnishing the property with convenient mod-cons.

Whereas families are more interested in space, excellent local schools and extra bedrooms.

It’s impossible to please everyone. Maximise rental yields by catering to a specific tenant group and provide them with what they really want.

Location, Location, Location

Property location UK

As always, location is key when it comes to improving rental return.

Picking an up-and-coming area is a good idea, as property purchase prices are lower and there is potential for increased rental income as the area expands. Somewhere with good transport links, access to great schools and a growing number of bars and shops is a safe bet.

Go Green for Tenants

With sustainable living becoming increasingly popular, improving insulation and making green changes to your rental property could strengthen the appeal to certain tenants.

Improving the energy efficiency rating of your property not only saves you money on energy bills,but is also a big deciding factor for potential tenants.

Think About Facilities

Equipping your property with high quality, time-saving facilities such as dishwashers, driers and high-speed Wi-Fi will attract more tenants and place your rental property ahead of the competition.

Think about what your ideal tenant profile wants out of a rental property and go from there.

Can You Add Another Bedroom or Bathroom?

Adding a second, third or fourth bedroom to your rental property is a guaranteed way of boosting rental yield.

If a property has a large living space that isn’t entirely necessary, turning it into a bedroom could drastically improve cash flow! Just take care to comply with bedroom regulations, especially if you plan to turn it into an HMO property.

A second bathroom is another way of adding value. Although this requires a little more upheaval, the results can be well worth it, especially in larger properties.

Keep Things Fresh

If larger scale renovation is out of your budget, simple, affordable updates such as new tiling in the bathroom or a fresh lick of paint can work wonders in attracting the best tenants.

The more you can do to make your property attractive to potential tenants, the more rent you can responsibly command.

Maximise Space for Maximum Yields

Another way to add value and appeal to renters is to maximise every inch of space in your property.

This doesn’t have to mean adding extra bedrooms. It can be something as simple as providing inbuilt cupboards and clever storage spaces. This is especially important if you’re targeting growing families.

Consider Allowing Pets

Pets in a rental property

Flexibility is a trait highly valued by prospective tenants. From allowing minor aesthetic alterations to saying yes to pets, remaining open to tenants helps grow your yield in the long run.

Rental properties which allow pets tend to be few and far between which means they are able to command more rent- another easy way to increase your rental yield!

Avoid Vacant Periods

Naturally, extended vacant periods will have a negative impact on your rental yield.

Asking current tenants what their plans are well in advance of the end of a tenancy is one way you can avoid this. Early preparation means you can start advertising for new occupants quickly.

In the case of an extended void period, it may be worth lowering the rent requirements to encourage tenants and minimise losses.

Make Regular Rent Reviews

It’s important to keep up with the rest of the property market. Keeping a finger on the pulse and raising or lowering rent as needed is essential for maintaining and increasing rental yield.

Factors such as a new school in the area can dramatically increase rent prices, so don’t miss out on opportunities to cash in on your property investments.

Assess Your Outgoings

Taking a regular look at all of your outgoings is an important part of managing your finances. You may find that a few simple changes could be surprisingly profitable.

Mortgage rates, for example, are always changing, and it’s possible to find good deals on property insurance on comparison websites.

Keep your eyes peeled for deals to cut costs and improve rental yield.

Keep Up to Date with Regulations

Part of being a responsible landlord includes keeping up to date with current health and safety regulations. Good maintenance of your rental property results in long-term tenancies and increased interest from renters.

Save Time and Money with A Professional Property Service

Instead of spending your time as a property manager, answering queries and sorting out viewings and check ins, allocating tasks to property professionals can help streamline your business, saving you time and money.

No Letting Go provide comprehensive property reports and essential services such as inventory management to help landlords protect their investment and increase yields.

For more information on how No Letting Go could help, visit our services page here.

As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to provide a secure property for your tenants. No one wants to receive a call from a distressed renter who’s just been broken into. Safe and secure properties equal happy tenants.

Insufficient security against intruders is one of the most common hazards impacting well-being in the home. Burglaries and forced entry are not only alarming, but also result in a lot of hassle sorting out insurance claims.

So, how safe and secure is your property?

If you think there could be room for improvement, then read on.

Are the Locks Up to Scratch?

The first thing to think about when assessing the security of your property should be the standard of door locks in place.

Changing Locks Between Tenancies

It should be common practice to change all the locks on doors and windows for every change in occupancy. You never know who’s hands the keys of previous tenants can end up in, especially when getting new keys cut is so easy.

What Type of Lock to Choose?

The Residential Landlords Association advise using five lever mortice locks for external timber doors or a multi-point locking system for PVC doors.

It’s also worth fitting door chains onto front doors for added security.

Don’t Forget About Windows

Window locks are just as important as they are a common point of entry for intruders.

Ensure that all windows easily accessible from the outside have good quality locks. But note that locks should not be used for designated escape windows.

Are the Doors a Good Fit?

It’s all well and good having top-quality locks, but if external doors don’t fit the door frame properly your property is vulnerable to break ins.

Make sure that all exterior doors and garage doors are correctly fitted and are free from damage.

What About an Alarm System?

Fitting a security alarm is another way of keeping your property safe for your tenants. Raising the alarm is especially important if the occupants are away from the property for extended periods of time.

The security system doesn’t have to be state-of-the-art. A simple home security system is all you need to protect your property. There is a huge array of burglar alarms and defender alarms out there:

  • The simplest option is a ‘bells-only’ alarm which, when triggered, sets off an audible alarm to alert tenants or neighbours
  • A speed dialler alarm allows you to choose up to three contact numbers to be immediately contacted by text message when the alarm is set off
  • The most expensive alarm is a monitored system. When the alarm is sounded, a signal is sent to a remote monitoring centre. This means the centre can confirm whether there is a security issue, and if so, inform the police, freeing up more of your time

Is Your Property Visible?

If your property is located slightly off the beaten track or in an area without many neighbours around, it might be worth investing in a security camera.

CCTV systems are more affordable than they used to be, but make sure you comply with laws on the handling of digital images.

Is Your Property Well Lit?

A simple, yet effective security measure is to fit security lights. Outdoor lighting is essential for making your tenants feel safe when they return to the property late at night.

Important places to illuminate with sensor activated lights include the property entrance, gates, driveways and anywhere that could be a potential entry point for intruders.

It’s also worth fitting wall switch controlled lights near garden outbuildings, side and rear doors. Anywhere not overlooked by neighbours could benefit from additional lighting.

How Safe is the Area?

The location of your property can have a big impact on the risk of break ins. Ensure you research the area thoroughly before making the decision to buy new properties.

This type of research can take time. Time that busy landlords with multiple properties might not have to spare. Luckily, there are several property report services available to do the hard work for you. These reports look at factors such as historical crime data in the area as well as comparing local and national crime rates. They can also give you information on the nearest police stations to make property management simpler.

Do you Have a Vacant Property?

It’s important to keep tabs on any vacant properties you might have. Most insurance companies require vacant properties to be visited regularly to check the property is secure and manage any issues.

If you’re juggling multiple properties, why not delegate this task to a professional service? No Letting Go offers reliable vacant tenancy inspections so you don’t have to worry about any attempted break-ins.

Are Your Tenants Safety Aware?

It could be worth sending your tenants a quick email with advice to ensure they’re up to date with the latest safety information. If you’re renting to students or younger people this could be particularly beneficial.

It’s a nice way to show you care and are serious about your responsibilities as a landlord. Simple home security ideas and tips such as hiding valuables and leaving a light on in the bathroom when out could make all the difference.

Direct your tenants to the Met Police website for further home security information.

Secure Property Management

Hopefully, these security ideas will help you to provide the safest and securest properties for your tenants.

If you’ve already got a lot on your plate, let us help with our professional, unbiased inventory services and property reports. With No Letting Go’s assistance, you can rest assured your property meets all the safety standards.

Letting out your property can be a daunting thought for many. How can you ensure your next tenant will be a good tenant?

Answer: with a tenant reference check.

But, many landlords are still in the dark about what the vetting process involves. So, what is it and why is it worth doing? Time to take a closer look.

What is a Tenant Check?

A tenant reference check is simply a way of determining whether a prospective tenant is reliable, and able to keep up with monthly rent payments.

Of course, there’s no way of guaranteeing how someone will behave in the future. However, tenant checks can give you an insight into who you’re letting your property out to.

Tenant Referencing – What Do They Check?

So, what do landlords check for?

Remember – this is about safeguarding both you and your property. You’ll want to ensure a potential tenant is who they say they are, and that they can keep up with their contractual obligations.

For this reason, the vetting process looks at a number of different areas, which can include:

Proof of Identity

Photo ID is usually preferable, such as a driver’s license or passport.

If this isn’t available, other forms of identification are sometimes accepted, such as a signed bank card. It’s up to you what to accept during the rent check.

Financial Situation

Most landlords’ primary concern is whether a potential tenant will be able to keep up with their monthly rental obligations.

Checking their background allows you to see proof of this. Usually, this part of the referencing process includes:

  • Proof of employment – such as a contract, a letter from an employer and/or recent payslips
  • Bank statements (particularly if someone is self-employed)
  • Proof of benefits claims (if applicable)

Credit Score

For a landlord, a tenant credit check is often seen as essential. However, when it comes to poor credit history, only CCJs and bankruptcy are public.

For this reason, their current financial situation is much more telling than a tenant credit check. Just because someone has fallen into rent arrears in the past doesn’t mean they will do now!

Unless, of course, their recent circumstances prove otherwise.

Right to Rent

It’s essential that your future tenant has a right to rent in the UK.

There are fines issued for private landlords who let to those not legally allowed to rent.

Guarantor Information

If you’re concerned that a certain tenant may not be able to afford their rent, you can ask for a guarantor. This is particularly prevalent in student properties, for example.

Sometimes, you can ask the guarantor to agree to a credit check. It’s also common to ask for recent payslips to ensure the rent can be paid should the tenant fail to do so.

If no guarantor is available, you can ask for a higher deposit upfront to cover any potential problems that may arise.

A Previous Landlord Reference

Ideally, you’re hoping for a reference that demonstrates that the tenant is reliable and trustworthy. This not only includes paying rent on time, but also respecting both the property and the landlord.

Questions to ask the landlord include:

  • Did the tenant have any outstanding rent?
  • Did the tenant cause any damage to the rental property?
  • Did the tenant have any problems with the neighbours?
  • Did the tenant receive their deposit back? If not, why?
  • Would they rent to this tenant again?

If a prospective tenant is unwilling to provide the necessary contact details, this may send alarm bells ringing.

Details of Previous Address

You may also want to see proof of previous addresses, to ensure the tenant is who they say they are.

 

You may also like: Landlord Deposit Rules: What You Need to Know

 

How to Run a Background Check on a Tenant

Some landlords are happy to ask for the necessary information themselves.

This can be a time-consuming process, as you’ll need to gather a number of relevant details, such as guarantor information. You’ll also need to reach out to the employer, establish whether the potential tenant has any current debt and interview them.

Questions you may want to ask the tenant include:

  • Will they be renting with pets?
  • Will they have any family or friends staying with them regularly?
  • What’s their working schedule like? Do they work night shifts?
  • Have they read the tenancy agreement?

If you’re using a letting agent, they should arrange the vetting process on your behalf.

Should You Use a Tenant Referencing Service?

To ensure the background check is as thorough as possible, it’s recommended to use a professional tenant referencing company. For example, the National Landlords Association can run a check for you.

While these won’t be free, they will help minimise the risk of rent arrears or other potential issues that may arise.

For many, the extra cost is worth the peace of mind.

How Long Does Tenant Referencing Take?

The length of the process depends entirely on each individual situation.

Sometimes, if everything runs smoothly, your referencing company can complete the check in around 48 hours.

But, this isn’t always the case. The process can be delayed by a number of factors, such as:

  • If a previous landlord drags their feet about giving a reference
  • If a potential tenant takes a long time gathering necessary financial details
  • If a potential tenant is unemployed, or a freelancer
  • If a potential tenant cannot get a guarantor

A tenant reference check gives many landlords peace of mind. We can also help remove the stress of letting your property, with our professional inventory management services. We’ll ensure you’re compliant with all regulations, protecting both you and your property. Find out more about our services here.

Leading providers of let property cover, Total Landlord Insurance, have just added Total Landlord Emergency Cover to their portfolio of insurance products
designed specifically for landlords.
Total Landlord Emergency Cover is a cost-effective insurance product that provides immediate assistance in the event of a domestic emergency at a rental
property.
The policy provides cover 24 hours a day 365 days a year for call out charges, labour and repairs for emergencies such as the breakdown of the heating system, plumbing and drainage problems.
Broking Manager, Steve Barnes, said: “Domestic emergencies at landlord’s rental properties can be inconvenient and sometimes difficult to resolve. It is not just boilers that go wrong, plumbing, drains and lost keys can cause inconvenience for landlords. At just £70 per property we feel that this policy represents excellent value for money and provides reassurance for both landlords and tenants that emergency assistance is only a phone call away. Introductory discounts are also available for limited period”.
Total Landlord Insurance will also be extending their range of landlord focussed products to include Rent Guarantee insurance and Tenant Referencing soon.

Steve continued: “Our customers are at the heart of our business and we will be adding more products and services to our website to provide landlords with a one stop solution for their insurance needs”.

For more information on Total Landlord Emergency Cover go to www.totallandlordinsurance.co.uk or call on 0800 63 43 880.

This article up from Property Drum by Operations Manager for ARLA, Ian Potter, further highlights how critical inventories with schedule of condition report have become.

With such large sums of money at stake, ARLA has called on tenants and landlords to consider the benefits of establishing a comprehensive property inventory check upon the commencement of a new let.

Ian Potter, Operations Manager of ARLA, said, “Deposit disputes can be one of the biggest problems for both parties involved in any rental property, and many potential issues can be avoided if a professional inventory is prepared.

“A licensed letting agent will offer you the best advice on checking to see if an existing inventory is available or whether any extra charges are invoked in drawing up a new document. A true inventory is not simply a list of items in a property – it also includes a description of the condition and cleanliness at the start and finish of the tenancy, enabling one to be compared against the other with clarity and accuracy.

“Photographs are a good support for comments made in a written inventory but should not be considered a replacement for the written word. Photographs which are unsigned and undated generally are not worth the effort, so make sure they are accepted at the outset and again at the check-out stage.”

Ian Potter said, “A well put-together inventory can give both landlords and tenants peace of mind throughout the occupation period. The inventory is not designed to catch tenants out, but rather to ensure both parties are in agreement over the quality of the property being rented.

“If conducted correctly, and agreed by both tenant and landlord, an inventory should form a key point of reference for any deposit-return queries or issues over reported damage. In recognition of the importance of inventories ARLA has its own sub division, the Association of Professional Inventory Providers, whose members have passed an accreditation exam as well as having a Code of Practice to follow.”

For Professional Inventory Management Services throughout the UK talk to No Letting Go, APIP members, who can provide all inventory management services including Inventory, Check In, Propert Visits and Check Outs with full dilapidations reports. Contact us on 0800 8815 366 or contact one of our local offices at www.nolettinggo.co.uk/contact

With student market nearly upon us, New Student Publications carried out an interesting straw survey on Student Landlord Problems

Different categories were addressed covering areas from unpaid rent to cleanliness issues.

Unpaid rent, filthy tenants and panicking about filling your properties for next year?

The results were astounding, with over 14% of landlords saying that their current biggest problem is just finding tenants to take their properties and fill in any gaps should someone drop out during a contract, with more than 2% feeling like they are struggling just to get viewings. One agent simply said “we have unlet properties remaining for July 2011, the situation is worse than in previous years” In a similar 2009 survey finding tenants was also the biggest problem raised by landlords.

Dirty Tenants

Landlords cited dirty tenants as their second biggest problem, with 16% left to pick up massive cleaning bills, or called out at 4am to change a lightbulb. The general consensus was “students don’t take care of the property or make any effort to keep the house clean.” 3.5% of agents thought that students demanded a much higher standard of accommodation than ever before, although it seems that tenants are unwilling to take out contracts for a full twelve months, with one landlord struggling to get even shorter terms “the majority of people contact me to rent for one or two months.”

Pressure From Pupose Built Halls

Many of the landlords surveyed said that they felt increased pressure from new purpose built student villages found in many city centres; more than 8% of those surveyed would eradicate those villages if we gave them one wish! 2% of landlords are afraid that their properties were not close enough to ‘hotspots’ and so would soon be abandoned in favour of more central locations.

Unpaid Rent

11% of businesses struggle with unpaid rent, while 2% note that this messes with their cash flow and although some are sympathetic to the issues caused by the Student Loans Company, most are fixed on the bigger picture; “a lot of time is spent chasing payment. Students seem to think that it is not always necessary for them to pay their rent.” This coupled with tenants excessively using all inclusive utilities means that businesses are less profitable. One landlord’s wish was simply that we could ‘undo the recession’ as 8 different landlords complained of increases to the cost of maintaining their properties to a decent standard.

Relax Regulations

Bogged down with HMO paperwork and expense? Over 18% of those surveyed would love to change or relax the regulations and the council powers to control them. One landlord stated; “there should be a national guide for HMO legislation.” Some landlords feel so strongly about HMO licensing that they named specific city councils or even actual councillors as their biggest fear for the future. 3 landlords said they had qualms about council schemes to shift populations from one area of a city to another, and how it would affect their business.

Worries Over Tuition Fee Increase

Landlords are worried about the tuition fee increase, with more than 14% saying that if they had one wish, they would fight the fees and leave the system as it stands, a worry which probably contributes to 13% of them saying that they feel the future of the market is uncertain, as some students may choose to stay at home to study. Competition from the university owned housing is a headache too, with 4% saying an increase in that sort of accommodation would be detrimental to their ability to let.

Problems With Advertising

Landlords raised the issue of advertising, when to do it and how the culture of marketing lets so early can damage the business, with nearly 5% of landlords thinking there should be a guideline that means property is marketed in January and not before. 4% thought university accommodation offices charged them too much for advertising, and 5% would like to see cheaper, and more effective advertising available to them.

Deposit Protection Unfair

Some landlords were concerned that the existing Deposit Protection Scheme did not offer them enough scope to reclaim money for damage to their properties. Eight separate landlords would like to see the entire system revised, with 1% of those surveyed listing it as their biggest problem. A case from the survey highlights the DPS’s flaws; “£1500 worth of damage but ex tenants refuse to give consent to DPS to pay the landlord.” And some feel that from a legal standpoint the law does not protect them, 3% of landlords would like to see more legislation to protect the financial interests of the landlord.

Worries Over The Potential Drop In Student Numbers

And what of the future of the student property market? More than half of those surveyed were very worried about the potential drop in student numbers next year, with one landlord summing up the problems this will create; “if student numbers drop because of the £9,000 a year course fees then we might see empty houses, lower rents or both.” A worry shared by 3% of those surveyed, who fear the contraction in the market will mean a forced reduction of rents, while other suggested offering shorter term contracts or starting to appeal to the housing benefit market was the only way to keep the business afloat.

No Problems At All

But this isn’t the full picture. Almost 9% of those surveyed have no major problems with the lettings market, their tenants or filling their properties. One landlord is more than happy with his tenants; “we enjoy our students. We pride ourselves in helping them learn how to care for and run the house. We regard them as ‘professionals-in-training’ and teach them what they should reasonably expect from a landlord and what they should reasonably do as a tenant.” One respondent would use a magic wand to change the public’s attitude towards students; “they tend to live in larger houses that are too big for modern families and therefore almost act as guardians for some of our most impressive architecture. They should be seen as a positive part of any community.”

Top 5 biggest fears for the futureNumber of responsesPercentage
Fewer students in the future10154%
Student villages158%
Legislation increasing workload158%
Unpaid rent due to fees105%
Universities moving into market84%
Top 5 current biggest problemsNumber of responsesPercentage
Bad tenants5113.6%
Uncertainty for the future4913.1%
Finding tenants4812%
Unpaid rent4111%
HMOs174.5%

No Letting Go are working with a number of student letting agents and bodies around the UK to help protect both landlords and tenants from many of the issues arising from cleanliness and deposit protection. Better use of Inventory services, checking tenants in, property visits and managing the check out is critical to ensuring that potential problems are dealt with in advance and issues arising from check outs are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Contact No Letting Go on 0800 881 5366 or find your nearest office at www.nolettinggo.co.uk

Compiled by Emma Parker New Student – Student Housing Magazines – www.newstudent.co.uk

I read a great article written for Upad this week….if you missed it then here it is. It is always good to remember the basics.

The Buy-to-Let boom is unlikely to return any time soon. A serious lack of good deals from BTL mortgage lenders is compounded by a distinct absence of confidence right now. But it does look like those green shoots of optimism are starting to appear again and 2011 may well be the year when a little cheer returns for budding Buy to Let landlords.

Tenant demand has never been stronger and banks say they want to lend again. Combine that with rising rents in many areas and a housing market that continues to splutter, and you’d be right to think that now is a good time to reconsider a Buy to Let investment.

And invest is the key word. Buying to let is just another way of getting your capital to work as hard as it possibly can for you in order to generate returns. How you do that is up to you. Perhaps you want the boost of a monthly rental income from a property. Or you could fancy a longer term punt and hope to rake in the cash when you sell the property some way down the line. But whatever your intentions, make sure you don’t make any of the common errors that often put a Buy to Let landlord’s investment at risk.

Don’t spend too much for too little return.
Calculate what you can afford and take into account all the expenses of being a landlord. Don’t overstretch yourself. Be realistic about your finances and take professional advice on taking out an appropriate mortgage. Consider future interest rates. Over the next few years, interest rate rises are inevitable. Don’t be caught out: will your investment be as attractive if any mortgage payments you make rise dramatically?

Being a landlord also attracts all manner of expenses and they can sometimes come out of the blue. Ensure that you can afford them and also that they don’t dent the profitability of your investment. In a rented flat, the boiler could go kaput at considerable expense or a service charge bill could come out of the blue. Expect the unexpected.

Remember that your rental income might occasionally be reduced. Tenants might miss the rent and get into arrears or you could experience voids between tenants when the property isn’t generating any revenue. Ensure that you should mitigate against these and that you can afford to keep going through the leaner times.

Don’t forget to “futureproof” your investment.
Many landlords come a cropper because they spot a cracking property at a great price and just go for it. Don’t forget Elvis: only fools rush in. With a little local research, you might discover why the property is such a bargain. Is the location up to scratch? Is crime a problem? Is a new motorway just about to plough through the local nature reserve? Maybe a supermarket is planned for the end of the road? It doesn’t take much nous to do some research and understand what’s happening in the area. A bargain property is always a bargain for a reason. Just make sure that some third-party development isn’t going to blight your enterprise.

Buy for your tenants, not yourself.
Channel your inner Vulcan, disengage your emotions and buy a property that will generate a fine return. That’s the challenge Don’t fall into that all-too-common trap and buy a place you like but which is entirely unsuitable for the tenants you have in mind. And be careful to approach the decoration and fittings of your property in the same way. Go for generic colours and furnishings and think of your future tenants at all times.

Don’t forget the taxman. (He won’t forget you!)
In general terms (and you are best advised to consult a professional accountant on such matters), if you are making more than £2500 profit on your property each year you’ll need to file a self-assessment tax return. So make a merit of it. You can claim tax relief on certain expenses you incur as a landlord. A canny accountant will help you pay not a penny more (and not a penny less) than you have to and is well worth the expense for all the expertise they can offer.

Do you understand the role of a landlord?
Sometimes landlords jeopardise their investment by failing to appreciate and understand the legal frameworks that surround every landlord. Firstly, whilst it may be your house, it isn’t your home. You can’t just pop by on a whim and you are also responsible for maintaining the property in a fit state for the tenants. Bone up on the law, read a few books and keep up with the news. Joining one of the landlord associations out there is always a good idea.