A recent study listing the biggest migraine-inducing scenarios for landlords may be familiar for many who own a rental property. Top of the list for 25% of stressed-out landlords was late rent payments, followed by ‘tenants from hell’, with 20% feeling that this caused them the most stress, property damage (18%), deposit disputes (13%) and dealing with evictions (7%).
Eric Walker, Managing Director of Northwood comments on the findings of the research and delves deeper into some of the underlying causes.
I fully understand the stress these issues cause Landlords, but as with so many headaches in life, they are often born from poor communication.
The key to managing arrears is to keep in contact with a tenant and encourage them to communicate with you. Often, when tenants fall into difficulty, they pay the Landlord nothing rather than a proportion of rent causing arrears to spiral and reducing the willingness of a tenant to do anything other than bury their heads in the sand. It is important to note that most tenants really don’t want to be in arrears and situations are often not of their making. Arrears can be managed far better where a good relationship exists. In the event rent is not paid, a concerned phone call can be immensely productive and even a part payment is better than no payment.
Tenants from Hell
Fears of ‘Tenants from hell’ are usually and thankfully unwarranted. The vast majority of tenants are responsible, good people. Referencing is key as prevention is better than cure. The most important element of a reference is a good report from a previous landlord. You can’t predict what the future may hold, but you can check a track record. The rare ‘tenants from hell’ usually have form.
Property damage is usually caused over time. It can be prevented by regular inspections where the Landlord identifies issues before they become problems and ensuring that they write to the tenant with a list of wants. It is also important that the Landlord leads by example and deals with any repairs and maintenance issues for which they are responsible swiftly.
Deposit disputes are often caused through a lack of understanding on both sides. Landlords must allow for fair wear and tear and not expect compensation for very old ‘zero value’ items and avoid being seen to claim betterment. The single most import factor to avoiding these disputes is a professional, independent inventory recording the precise state of a property and its contents at commencement of the tenancy and agreement of its accuracy from the tenant. A Landlord doing an inventory themselves is rarely a saving.
Dealing with evictions is always challenging and costly. Once you believe this course of action may become necessary, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible and well before eviction becomes your only option. The lead in times for a court date are often long and unpredictable. I also recommend talking to your tenant to see if you can find a compromise rather than issue proceedings. In the past I have offset the cost of legal action against arrears if the tenant agrees to move out. It may seem somewhat strange, but it stops further arrears building and negates the possibility of vengeful damage.
These figures are no surprise and are in fact the reason Northwood was created. Our founder, Andy Goodson, wanted a simple means to take all these headaches away from a Landlord which he had experienced first-hand. We don’t sell you an insurance policy, we simply rent the property from the Landlord directly. We pay the rent even if the tenant doesn’t or in the event of any void periods; our in house legal team deals with any issues at no extra cost including evictions; we manage the property and deal directly with the tenants; and manage the deposit release process. We now have 85 offices across the UK with more planned for 2015.
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