As a landlord, you’ll understand the importance of finding reliable tenants that pay the rent on time. One way to secure this is through comprehensive tenant reference checks. But what happens if a potential tenant fails their credit check?
Renting to tenants with bad credit doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. If the tenant ticks all the right boxes, there are ways to get around this issue and protect yourself and your investment.
What Is A Tenant Reference Check?
A tenant reference check helps landlords and letting agents decide if a tenant is likely to be reliable and pay each month’s rent on time.
In addition to a credit check, tenant referencing can look for;
- Proof of identity
- Proof of employment
- Current salary
- Bank statements
- Proof of benefit claims
- Right to rent in the UK
- A previous landlord reference
What Is A Credit Check?
A credit check looks at the tenant’s credit report and financial history, spotting any times they have missed bill payments or have fallen into arrears. This is analysed to produce an individual credit score.
A credit score can range from around 0- 900 points, depending on the score system used. A good credit score could be anything above 750 points.
What’s The Minimum Credit Score A Landlord Should Accept For A Tenant?
An acceptable credit score will be dependent on the scoring system used, as they differ between referencing agencies. However, when a tenant’s credit score comes back as poor or very poor, you may want to think about asking some further questions.
What Causes A Bad Credit Scoring?
A poor credit score can be caused by a number of issues, some more concerning than others when it comes to potential tenants.
Here are a few of the more serious reasons for a poor credit rating;
Naturally, being in debt can negatively affect a tenant’s credit score as it suggests that they struggle to manage their money and are not financially stable. If this issue is uncovered by a credit check, you may think twice about entering into a tenancy agreement.
Being Declared Bankrupt
This should set major alarm bells ringing for landlords as it suggests the tenant has had difficulty managing repayments in the past.
County Court Judgements
A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is when a tenant is forced to repay a debt by the courts. If this shows up, it’s not a great first impression.
Late Credit Card Or Loan Repayments
If a tenant has struggled to pay credit card repayments in time, this doesn’t bode well for rent payments.
There are also a number of issues that can affect credit scores that don’t necessarily mean a tenant will struggle with their finances;
Not Having A Credit History
One reason for a poor credit rating that is particularly common among younger tenants and students is not having a credit history at all. If the tenant has never taken out a credit card or loan and has never paid bills from their bank account, they won’t have a credit trail to check, resulting in a low score.
This is a likely occurrence if you rent to students or young adults who have just left home and doesn’t necessarily mean that the tenant will be bad at managing their money.
Only Making The Minimum Credit Card Repayments
Credit scores can be affected if the tenant only makes the minimum repayment on their credit card each month. The assumption is that they are struggling to keep up with all their outgoings, however this isn’t always the case.
Not Being On the Electoral Roll
Not updating addresses and personal information can affect credit score, as can not being on the electoral roll. This step is easily forgotten when moving house and doesn’t prove the tenant will be unreliable.
No Proof Of Address
If a tenant hasn’t been responsible for paying bills at their previous residence or were not named on the tenancy agreement, it can be difficult for the referencing agency to determine proof of address.
How Important Is Good Credit?
As we explored above, good credit isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to finding a good tenant. Equally as important is whether they fit your target tenant profile.
If you’ve been struggling to rent out your property or think the tenant will make a good fit, there are ways to get around bad credit.
How To Rent to Tenants With Bad Credit
Poor credit rating alone doesn’t mean you should give up on a tenant if they tick all the other boxes. Here are some ways to minimise risk;
The first thing to do when a potential tenant’s credit check comes back as poor, is to find out why. If it was down to late or missed payments it may be best to steer clear, however if it’s something as simple as a lack of credit history then it needn’t stop you from going ahead with the tenancy.
Ask To See Previous Rent Payments
Seeing proof of regular, timely rent payments for a previous rental arrangement will help to ease your concerns about their responsibility as a tenant.
Charge a Larger Deposit
If a tenant has a low credit score, it’s likely they will be prepared to pay a slightly larger security deposit to make up for it. This will give you extra leverage when it comes to recovering costs at the end of the tenancy.
Ask For A Guarantor
One of the best ways to protect yourself if a tenant has poor credit is to ask for a guarantor. A guarantor will be able to cover any costs if the tenant is unable to pay, giving you extra protection.
The guarantor will need to sign the tenancy agreement along with the tenant and have secure financial status.
Ask For A Previous Landlord Reference
One sure way to find out if a tenant is reliable is to ask their previous landlord.
Here are some questions to ask;
- Did the tenant pay rent on time each month?
- Did the tenant look after the rental property?
- How often did the tenant raise issues with the landlord or letting agent?
- Were any complaints received from neighbours regarding the tenant?
- What condition did they leave the property at the end of the tenancy?
- Would you feel happy renting to the tenant again?
Ask For Rent Upfront
While this may be a lot to ask and not always in scope, a tenant with a high risk credit score may be prepared to pay rent upfront. Paying the first six months of rent upfront will ease any initial worries and give the tenant time to prove their reliability.
Receive Payments By Direct Debit
Asking for rent payments via direct debit is common practice these days and is especially important if you’re concerned about a tenant’s financial responsibility.
Shorten The Tenancy
If you’re worried about the reliability of a tenant, setting a shorter, probationary rental period in which the tenant has time to prove their responsibility could be a good idea. If you experience late payments or other issues, you can terminate the tenancy early.
Talk To The Tenant
You can tell a lot from a frank, face-to-face conversation. If your potential tenant willingly discloses their credit issues and can provide a reasonable explanation for the low score, you will be much better placed to make an informed decision.
How To Organise A Tenant Reference Check
Although credit checks aren’t the only way to choose the right tenant, it is important to perform tenant referencing so you aren’t caught out further down the line.
As a busy landlord, you may want to delegate this task to a professional tenant referencing company. Placing this responsibility in the experienced hands of a recommended referencing company will minimise any risks and help the process go smoothly.
Protect Your Property With No Letting Go
In addition to choosing a reliable tenant, a comprehensive inventory is one of the best ways to protect your rental property.
At No Letting Go, we offer unbiased property inventory reports to help safeguard your property against damage and recover essential costs at the end of a tenancy. All the way through from Schedule of Condition, to check in and property visits, our property clerks are there to simplify the rental process and save you time.
Interested in hearing more? Head to our website to discover the full range of property management services we offer.
If you’re a landlord looking for a trusted letting agent in London, we might be able to help. We understand the importance of leaving your investment in safe hands and work with a wide range of property specialists in London and across the UK.
No Letting Go help letting agents and property businesses streamline their inventory management processes and provide essential reports. Thanks to this, we know a thing or two about finding the right partner for you and your property needs.
We’ve listed some of the best letting agents, London to help you find a reputable agency in your local area.
Letting Agents: North London
Let’s start with lettings and estate agents in the North London area. The following agencies have either been recommended by trusted sources or are businesses we currently work with.
Davies & Davies
This well-established independent letting agent has been running since 1927, managing sales and lettings from Finsbury park.
Voted as the 7th best Letting agent in the UK by the Best Estate Agent Guide 2019, Davies & Davies pride themselves on their bespoke level of service and their socially responsible attitude towards the local community. If you’re looking for a collaborative partner, this award- winning agency could be for you.
Best for: Slick, creative marketing campaigns
Finsbury Park Office, 85 Stroud Green Road, London, N4 3EG
Another long-running agency, Oliver’s Town Lettings have been around since 1988 and cover a wide area from Camden to Hampstead.
The agency deals with buying, renting, letting and selling for landlord and tenants and have excellent knowledge of the areas they work in.
Best for: Approachable customer service
Offices in Primrose Hill, Kentish Town, Hampstead and Mayfair
Parkheath is a well-established lettings agent in North West London with a business philosophy of ‘sold on service’. The results speak for themselves, with 99% of sales and lettings clients happy to work with them again in the future.
Looking after properties located in areas around Belsize and Tufnell park, Parkheath lettings agent offer excellent knowledge of the property market and a reliable service.
Best for: Professional customer service
Offices in West Hampstead, South Hampstead, Belsize Park, Kentish Town and Kendall Rise.
Serving the areas around Dartmouth Park, Kentish Town and Tufnell Park, Matthew James estate agents are an independent company specialising in lettings and sales.
With customers describing them as ‘efficient’, ‘friendly’ and ‘honest’, your rental property will be in safe hands. They even have area guides on their website to help prospective landlords and tenants get to know the different areas they operate in.
Best for: Friendly team of staff
43-45 Fortess Rd, Kentish Town, London NW5 1AD
If you’re looking for sales and lettings experts in Islington, Highbury, Barnsbury, Shoreditch, Dalston, Hoxton, Haggerston and the City, PG Estates are a good bet.
Dedicated to establishing long term relationships with their clients, this agency has a wide range of property types on its books. They can even help you with short Airbnb lets!
Best for: Variety of services
350 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0PD
66 Brick Lane, Spitalfields, E1 6RL
Your Move Sterling & Co – Walthamstow
Centrally based in Walthamstow, Your Move Sterling & Co is the place to go for friendly and professional lettings services in the area.
As a landlord, when you let a property through Your Move Sterling & Co, you gain access to the landlord portal for quick and easy communication.
Serving Walthamstow, Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford in North East London.
Best for: Convenient communications
Email directly on the Your Move Sterling & Co website
From health and safety reports to property viewings, our franchises across North London all put the same level of dedication into their client services. No Letting Go Walthamstow property inventory services are owned and operated by Ann Ennis who has over 45 years of experience in the industry. Get in touch to find out how they could help.
East London Letting Agents
Now let’s turn our attention to the best letting agents in and around East London;
Martin & Co – Wanstead
Head up by local landlord, Mike Molloy, the Wanstead branch of Martin & Co provides a wealth of information on the surrounding area and property market.
With first hand experience of the private rental sector, Molloy understands the needs of landlords and tenants, providing an honest and intuitive service to clients.
The Wanstead branch manages property across Wanstead, East London and West Essex.
Best for: Landlords
74 High Street, Wanstead, London, Greater London, E11 2RN
Dabora Conway – South Woodford and Winchmore Hill
The experienced team at Dabora Conway lettings and estate agents put customer satisfaction at the heart of everything they do.
As a member of NALS (The National Approved Letting Scheme), this growing business is committed to providing quality, tailored services.
With glowing customer testimonials and a professional team of staff, Dabora Conway is a great choice for lettings in the Wanstead, South Woodford and Winchmore Hill areas.
Best for: Customer commitment
Wanstead Head Office, 9 High Street, Wanstead, London, E11 2AA
Winning gold in the property agency of the year awards 2018 for Stratford in the AllAgents Annual Awards, David Daniels is a trusted agency in the East London area.
Serving Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham and Havering, David Daniels is a member of ARLA Propertymark, NAEA Propertymark and the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS).
Combining highly qualified staff with a close attention to detail and local knowledge, this agency provides a comprehensive service for landlords.
Best for: Recognition in the property sector
Offices in Leyton and Stratford
Looking to save time on property management? If you operate in the East London area, our No Letting Go branches in Stratford & Newnham and Romford & Docklands provide landlords and property professionals with unbiased, professional services to help safeguard your investment.
Letting Agents: South London
If you’re a landlord looking for letting agents in the South London area, add the following businesses to your list;
C James & Co
For lettings in Wimbledon, Tooting, Colliers Wood and surrounding areas, C James & Co is committed to providing their customers with the latest innovations in Proptech.
C James & Co have dedicated teams of staff handling accounts, contracts and maintenance, ensuring each member is experienced and dedicated to their field.
As a member of ARLA, the agency stays on top of current regulations to protect landlords and their investments.
Best for: Dedicated network of staff
141 Kingston Road, Merton Park, London SW19 1LJ
110 Tooting High Street, Tooting, London, SW17 ORR
190-192 High Street, Colliers Wood, London, SW19
As the name suggests, this independent estate agent has an extensive knowledge of their local area postcode. Their slogan ‘It’s all in the postcode’ reflects their passion for the Wimbledon area and local communities within it.
Offering zero deposit schemes and experienced staff, SW19 guarantees speedy rental processes and security for landlords.
Best for: Local area knowledge
Offices in Wimbledon, South Wimbledon and Colliers Wood
With an outstanding local reputation and a straightforward ethos, Ellisons are a registered office approved by The Office of Fair Trading, The Estate Agency Ombudsman Scheme and ARLA.
With thousands of let properties in their portfolio, they are experienced at providing hassle-free transactions. They even offer free rental guarantee insurance to newly appointed lets.
Ellisons letting agents serve Wimbledon, Morden, Raynes Park, West Wimbledon, Motspur Park, Colliers Wood and Merton Park.
Best for: Fuss-free service
Individual office contact details are available on the website
From No Letting Go Battersea to No Letting Go Croydon, our branches across South London understand the importance of an unbiased, detailed property inventory. Interested? Contact the team to discuss your requirements.
Letting Agents: West London
Here’s our pick of west London lettings agents;
Ludlow Thompson- Kilburn
With fantastic reviews on AllAgents, the Kilburn branch of Ludlow Thompson is one to look out for.
Described as professional, helpful and communicative, this lettings agency covers extensive areas across Kilburn, West Hampstead and other West London areas.
All staff at Ludlow Thompson have undertaken industry qualifications to ensure professional property management at all times.
Best for: Customer satisfaction
We work with a number of lettings agents in West London, helping them to deliver inventories and organise property inspections.
Keen to be part of our extensive network? No Letting Go Ealing offers 360 degree virtual photography and property appraisals in Ealing and surrounding areas.
For landlords in the Uxbridge area, John Farrell leads the No Letting Go Uxbridge branch, delivering results through extensive local knowledge and the latest in property technology.
What We Offer
We offer a lot more than just property inventory services. Here are some of our other services at a glance;
- Check in/check out services
- Right to rent checks
- Property visits & inspections
- Dilapidation reports
- House viewings
- Floor plans
- Property appraisals
- 360 virtual photography
- Health & Safety reports
Find Your No Letting Go London Branch
Gaining access to the lettings and inventory services you need should be simple and fast. We provide lettings agents and landlords with a wide range of property services to save you time and ensure your compliance with the latest regulations.
Find your local London No Letting Go office here.
From comprehensive inventories to check in/check out services, our teams are experienced at providing professional, fuss-free solutions.
Browse our full range of property services to find out how we could help.
For landlords, there are seemingly endless responsibilities to keep track of. Every self-respecting landlord wants to provide safe and comfortable homes for their tenants, but it can be difficult to stay on top of changing developments.
One such responsibility that’s vital to stick to is getting an EPC for your property. The EPC is a certificate to ensure the sufficiency of a buildings energy performance and is required for all properties being put on the market to sell or rent.
We know it can be tricky navigating complex requirements and laws. That’s why we’ve put together this information on landlord EPC obligations.
So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about EPC for landlords, all in one place.
What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
Put simply, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) tells you how energy efficient a property is. Factors such as carbon dioxide emissions and heating costs are taken into consideration to give the property an EPC rating.
An EPC is required every time a property is put up for sale or rent.
Introduced in 2008 as part of the Home Information Packs (HIPs), the EPC aims to give potential buyers and tenants clearer information on the energy efficiency of their building.
As well as rating the building for its current efficiency, the EPC also gives suggestions for improving energy use and will provide a predicted rating for when these are implemented.
Energy Efficiency Rating
The energy efficiency of your property is given a rating between A and G, with A being very efficient and G being inefficient. An older property without double glazing or proper insulation is more likely to get a lower rating than a new build.
The property will also be given a number between 1-100. The higher the number, the more efficient the building is and the more cost-effective energy bills are.
The EPC will also provide estimated energy costs for heating, lighting and water bills. As well as advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of your property. From installing better quality wall insulation to something as simple as switching to energy efficient light bulbs, there are many ways to make your property greener.
What’s the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard for Landlords?
As from April 2018, landlords in the private rented sector need a minimum rating of E for their rental properties. Failure to meet this standard could result in fines so must be avoided at all costs!
Tenants have the right to make improvements to the energy efficiency of the property, with the permission of the landlord.
From April 2020, these regulations will also apply to all ongoing assured tenancies in existence.
For more information on landlord requirements consult the government web page.
Which Properties Need an EPC?
Every domestic and commercial building in England and Wales must have an EPC. If you are leasing a property, you must have ordered the EPC before the property goes on the market.
The only types of buildings that are exempt include some listed buildings and residential buildings or rented holiday accommodation which are in use for less than four months a year. A room rented out by a residential landlord is also let off the hook.
The EPC must be shown to potential tenants and a copy supplied free of cost. Make sure you don’t get caught out!
How Long is the Energy Performance Certificate Valid for?
An EPC is valid for 10 years from when it’s completed. If the property holds an EPC from an existing tenancy, it’s fine as long as it’s within this period.
How to Get an EPC
As a responsible landlord, you must only use an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor when acquiring the EPC for your property.
To find a list of approved EPC organisations in the UK, check the energy performance certificate register.
What does the Energy Performance Certificate Cost?
An important question for landlords! Unfortunately, there is no fixed rate for EPC’s currently, however prices usually start at £35. Factors such as the size of the property, the type of property, how many bedrooms it has and its location are all taken into consideration.
Therefore EPC’s for larger homes in desirable locations are likely to cost more.
EPC’s and Feed in Tariffs
If your property has solar PV and you want to receive payments from the government’s feed in tariff (FIT) you will have to provide evidence of an acceptable EPC rating.
The Benefits of Having an EPC
It may sound like a bit of a hassle, but there are actually some benefits to getting a CPE for your property.
For one thing, having an EPC means you can feel safe in the knowledge that your property is within the required energy efficiency standards. That’s one less thing to worry about.
Another advantage, is that by periodically checking your property’s energy efficiency, it will be easier to save money on energy bills for your tenants. The EPC will also help you to plan for future costs with its breakdown of energy expenditures. For landlords managing multiple properties this will be particularly helpful.
Recent Changes to the EPC
From 1st April, 2019, the ‘no cost to the landlord’ exemption will no longer apply and landlords will be required to pay up to £3,500 on works to increase their property’s rating up to an E. If costs exceed this figure, landlords will be allowed to register for a ‘high cost’ exemption on the PRS Exemptions Register provided they give significant evidence.
This is a significant change that landlords in the private rental sector need to stay on top of.
Let us Lend a Hand
With all these obligations to wrap your head around, it’s worth delegating some tasks to make the process of organising a new tenancy that bit simpler.
No Letting go provide professional, unbiased inventory services to make the process as fuss-free and efficient as possible and help you stay on top of your responsibilities.
No Letting Go are proud to support the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) in their bid for mandatory inventories for all private residential tenancies. An independent inventory ensures there’s no room for ambiguity during the check-in and check-out procedures – this dramatically reduces the number of deposit disputes.
Evidence of Fulfilled Landlord Obligations
We would like to go a step further. There are some health and safety requirements no landlord can ignore! We feel inventories should be combined with compliance reporting. A detailed inventory at the start and end of a tenancy can act as a crucial document which acts as evidence of a landlord fulfilling their health and safety obligations.
The report could also work as evidence of a landlord complying with:
- Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations 2015
- Fire and furnishing safety regulations 1988
A Duty of Care
Nick Lyons, CEO of No Letting Go spoke to Landlord Today regarding the topic:
“Independent inventory providers have a duty of care to protect the interests of both landlords and tenants alike. The government has introduced legislation to protect tenants but with no real effective means to monitor it.
“The introduction of a compulsory combined inventory and compliance report for all let properties compiled by trained, independent professionals will help ensure that landlords meet their legal responsibilities and assist the government and trading standards to police the landlord’s requirement to protect tenants.”
Why Is the Petition Important?
The petition is being put forward by the AIIC. This is to encourage the government to introduce mandatory inventory reporting as part of its ongoing plans to increase regulation in the Private Rented Sector.
The AIIC sees mandatory independent inventory reporting as the next step from the 2007 introduction of compulsory tenancy deposit protection. This is because there’s not been additional legislation concerning the documents or evidence needed to resolve deposit disputes.
“With this in mind, regulating independent inventories really is a no-brainer for the government. An independent and professionally compiled inventory offers protection to both tenants and landlord and can prove invaluable in the event of a tenancy deposit dispute.”
Irrelevant of whether mandatory independent inventory reporting becomes a legal requirement, there is still an abundance of benefits for landlords, letting agents and tenants. An independent body like No Letting Go can take the hassle and strain out of the process while dramatically cutting down on disputes. Find out more about how we can help your inventory process here.
With so much of today’s property hunt taking place online, there’s a real opportunity for scammers to capitalise on unsuspecting tenants. Thankfully, users remain vigilant and sham lettings are well documented. If you’re on the property hunt, here are the common rental scams to avoid.
Gumtree Landlord Scam
This trap is aimed at those living overseas who seek accommodation in the UK. A landlord will publish an ad on Gumtree featuring accredited NLA (National Landlords Association) logos. They will discuss the property in question with the individual and request payment before they move to the UK. Upon arrival to the country, the landlord is nowhere to be seen.
This is a popular scam in the lettings sector. It can be entirely dismantled by asking to see the property first. If you’re looking to rent a room or flat, you have the right to view it before paying any kind of deposit. If you’d like to find out whether a landlord is a member of the National Landlords Association, you can do so here.
The Fake Property
This is a dangerous one which is really tough to notice at times. This scam involves the landlord going a step further than just advertising a property. The scammer will have access to an empty property which they’ll show you around. Unfortunately, the building isn’t actually theirs to rent out. By the time you come to move in, the property’s already occupied.
It can be really difficult to actually recognise this until it’s happened. It’s always important to be suspicious if the landlord is pressing for you to pay a security deposit/first month’s rent immediately.
Now this is a clever scam, which again is pretty difficult to spot. A tenant will go through the motions of renting a property and everything will appear legitimate. Coming to the reference check stage, the prospective tenant will sign a contract which says that if the references aren’t acceptable the deposit will be returned minus a fee for reference checks. This sounds reasonable – besides, you’ve got good references so don’t mind signing. Unfortunately, they’ll be deemed as unsatisfactory by the landlord. When you receive the deposit back, it’s a fraction of what you initially paid. If you’ve been bitten by this, it’s illegal and you have a right to be frustrated. Seek assistance immediately.
Going After the Guarantor
This is a particularly nasty one. The landlord will claim there’s no need for a security deposit. It sounds like a perfect situation – you just need to have a guarantor. When the tenancy comes to an end, the guarantor will be hit with a wave of unnecessary charges for repairs. This scam highlights the importance of inventory services.
Dodgy landlords are big fans of adding illegal charges to the tenancy agreement. Be wary of anything you sign your name to. If the charge is in your tenancy agreement and you sign it, you’re agreeing to pay. If you’re unsure whether a charge is necessary, do your research before signing. If a landlord tries to charge you for something which isn’t in the tenancy agreement, you don’t need to pay.
It’s Not All Dodgy Landlords
It’s a two sided coin – tenants can scam landlords too. One of the most common includes a tenant who asks to pay a deposit via Western Union or some other similar service. They pay too much ‘by mistake’ and ask the landlord to send the extra funds back. By this time, the landlord’s made the payment and the original payment has bounced. This leaves the landlord out of pocket and red faced. If you find yourself caught up in this, don’t pay any additional funds back until the initial payment clears/bounces.
What to Look Out For
It’s important to be vigilant when it comes to lettings scams. Here are a few warning signs to look out for:
- Free listings – scammers love sites like Gumtree which allow free listings. Always be extra wary of rentals advertised on these websites.
- Multiple ads for the same property – these can sometimes have slightly different descriptions or pictures.
- Poorly worded ads – does it read like it was written by someone who isn’t fluent in English?
- Unnecessary description of landlord – often scams will make the landlord sound respectable and fair. If this feels a little unnecessary, consider why this information is being communicated to you.
- Lettings agency with little online presence – sometimes scammers will create their own lettings agency to appear legitimate. Google the company and see what’s online about them.
- Very low price – it’s the age old saying; if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Pushy landlord – if the landlord is pushing you to pay money immediately, there’s likely to be an issue.
- Pictures – are the pictures different to the property? Do the pictures look fake or unnatural?
- They ask for money up front – Never pay anything before a viewing!
Unfortunately, scam landlords give the profession a bad name. The truth is, scammers are few and far between though tenants are not always aware of this. This is why it’s even more important to get your inventories right. By turning to No Letting Go for our inventory services, you remove any possibility of deposit disputes and also reassure tenants of your legitimacy. Find out more about our services here.
The buy-to-let market continues to be one of the hottest investment markets in the UK. People are purchasing properties and building portfolios in anticipation of providing the kind of retirement they would never get from a pension. But as with any other investment, becoming a landlord also means added responsibility. There are mortgages to pay, tenants to deal with, and a myriad of maintenance and upkeep issues. If you don’t know what you’re doing, being a landlord could become a nightmare.
Here are five common mistakes landlords make along with ways to avoid them:
1. Failing to Properly Screen Potential Tenants
Tenants are the lifeblood of any property portfolio. The last thing a landlord needs are tenants who do not pay their rent or who abuse property with very little discretion. A good way to end up with these kinds of tenants is to fail to screen potential candidates correctly. Screening is an absolute must.
One of the best ways to do this is to use a letting agent. Letting agents are experts at tenant screening, and they have access to certain tools that make it easier to discover questionable rental histories and other potential problems. Using a letting agent is well worth the money spent.
2. Failing to Have a Property Inventory in Place
There are companies that provide national property inventory checks for landlords at very reasonable prices. Yet some landlords fail to take advantage of this. By failing to have a property inventory in place, those landlords are taking a big risk in assuming that tenants will take good care of the property throughout their tenancy.
The solution to this mistake is very simple: work with a local or national inventory company to do a complete inventory of your property. Furthermore, utilise a check-in and check-out at both ends of the lease. There are plenty of companies offering landlord’s inventory UK-wide at excellent prices; utilise them.
3. Failing to Keep Tenants Happy
The successful landlord is a landlord able to secure and maintain long-term leases. The longer tenants can be kept in the property, the more financially secure the property becomes. On the other hand, constantly turning over unhappy tenants increases the landlord’s risk of void periods in which the mortgage still has to be paid despite no rental payments coming in. Not keeping tenants happy is a big mistake.
Landlords can avoid this mistake by doing whatever they can to make the tenant experience unforgettably pleasant. For example, you do not have to charge market value rents just because you can. If you can offer a lower rent and still cover your expenses and make a profit, you will have a happy tenant who is less likely to look around for something cheaper near the end of the tenancy.
4. Choosing Properties in the Wrong Location
Residential property is a lot like commercial property in the sense that location is crucial. The most desirable renters tend to want homes in neighbourhoods that are safe and have access to common amenities like public transportation, entertainment options, good schools, and additional opportunities for the family. Choosing properties in bad locations can turn what a landlord hoped to be a great investment into a financial disaster.
The best way to avoid this mistake is to do plenty of research before you purchase. Landlords can work with a specialist property company who deals only in buy-to-let investments; such companies are usually very good at determining which neighbourhoods are desirable and which are not.
5. Failing to Save Money
Owning rental property is essentially a business. And as with any business, there are certain capital expenses that are unavoidable. Landlords who fail to save money for such capital expenses can easily find themselves in financial trouble when things go wrong. If things get too bad, they could jeopardise the business.
Landlords should establish a savings account into which they routinely deposit a portion of every rental payment they receive. The money should not be touched for anything other than making capital improvements or emergency expenses. When money is taken out of the account, it needs to be replaced as quickly as possible.
Being a landlord is a very good way to establish a stable and comfortable income. But it is not without responsibilities. The most successful landlords know what it takes to run a property business and make every effort to avoid the most common mistakes.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) – the government approved deposit protection scheme for landlords, agents, and tenants in the UK – today announced the value of deposits protected has grown by £100m from last year, to over £1.3bn and a 25% increase in deposit disputes, to 11,900.
The TDS figures show that 19.2% of all disputes raised resulted in 100% pay-outs to tenants; 19.8% of all disputes raised by landlords or agents resulted in 100% pay-outs to them; while in the remaining 61% of cases saw the disputed money split between the parties.
Most of the disputes in England and Wales were about cleaning (58%), followed by damage (52%), redecoration (32%), gardening (17%) and rent arrears (10%).
It is worth noting the average amount of money disputed in cases across England and Wales was £831 – Our average inventory costs only 10% of this value; isn’t it worth considering a professional inventory service?
You can avoid the trend of increasing tenancy disputes with leading inventory provider No Letting Go: with an incredibly successful track record, we are the largest and most respected property inventory company with over 40 offices throughout the UK.
Call us today for enquires 01322 555128.
You can read the full TDS Dispute Service Annual Review 2015 here.
On the 1st December 2014, the Immigration Act 2014 came into effect. Under Section 22 of this act a landlord must not authorise an adult to occupy a property as their only or main home under a residential tenancy agreement unless the adult is a British citizen, or EEA or Swiss national, or has a ‘right to rent’ in the UK. Someone will have the ‘right to rent’ in the UK provided they are present lawfully in accordance with immigration laws. Landlords who breach section 22 may be liable for a civil penalty.
Landlords have the option to appoint an agent to act on their behalf and where an agent has accepted this responsibility, the agent will be the liable party in place of the landlord (non-compliance with the legislation could lead to a fine of up to £3,000.00) The legislation and civil penalty scheme will be introduced in geographical phases starting with a pilot area of Birmingham, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell from the 1st December 2014. From this date, any adult who wishes to occupy a property as their main/principle home under a residential tenancy will be required to provide their agent/landlord with proof of their ‘right to rent’.
Acceptable documentation includes passports and biometric residence permits. In a limited number of cases, such as where tenants don’t have their documents due to an ongoing Home Office application, landlords can request a check using the ‘right to rent’ tool on the website.
It is currently proposed that the legislation will rollout nationally in April 2015 (however this is subject to change by the government).
The legislation does not require any right to rent check to be carried out for any occupants of tenancies which commenced prior to the 1st December 2014. In brief there are 3 steps in establishing and maintaining a statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty:
- Conduct initial right to rent checks before authorising any adult to occupy rented accommodation.
- Conduct follow-up checks at the appropriate date if initial checks indicate that an occupier has a time-limited right to rent.
- Make a report to the Home Office if follow-up checks indicate that an occupier no longer has the right to rent.
Prior to accepting an offer from an applicant, the responsible party should complete the following:
- Obtain original acceptable documents of all occupants over 18 years of age (including permitted occupants, family etc)
- Check, in the presence of the holder, that the documents appear genuine, that the person presenting them is the prospective occupier, the rightful holder and allowed to occupy the property.
- Copy each document clearly, retain a record of when the check was made and retain the copies securely for at least one year after the tenancy agreement comes to an end.
Where an applicant has a time-limited right to rent, the landlord will have an obligation to conduct follow up checks to ensure a tenant continues to have rights to reside in the UK. This check must be carried out either within a year of the previous check or on expiry of the persons permission to be in the UK whichever is later.
Checks must be carried out in the same process as above (original documents, in person and copies taken). – Further information regarding the legal requirements can be found https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice
It is recommended that landlords perform a Legionella risk assessment every two years to meet their legal duty in ensuring that the risk of exposure of tenants to Legionella is properly assessed and controlled.
We are always looking for additional ways to add extra value to our client’s services that in turn helps provide a better service to their landlords. Legionella risk assessment makes a lot of sense for us as we have the right skill set to ensure this work is carried out to the highest levels and can in turn be offered in addition to our inventory management services.
Outsourcing this activity through us is an efficient and cost-effective way for landlords, agents and property managers to demonstrate they are compliant. We can perform the risk assessment as a separate visit or whilst we are already attending the property for a check-in, check-out or mid-term report allowing for us to offer better overall value.
Legionella is a bacteria naturally found in water systems. Whilst the bacteria at low levels do not pose a health risk, under certain conditions, in water storage tanks for example, and in certain temperature ranges, the bacteria can multiply increasing the risk of Legionnaire’s Disease. Risk increases in water systems that are unused for any period of time; making rental properties particularly vulnerable. Legionnaire’s is a potentially fatal disease with flu-like symptoms often mistaken for pneumonia contracted by inhaling bacteria contained in water droplets.
We are to provide full checks of the entire water system in residential property including water tanks in lofts, pipes, taps, toilet and shower systems. The risk assessment will indicate whether any action is required on the part of the landlord and if not is a record demonstrating compliance in protecting tenants.
Photo sources: bwt-ni.co.uk – housemanwaterhygiene.com
How does the price of renting in London change as you travel down the Underground? HomeLet – the UK’s largest referencing firm – put together this infographic to help us understand the importance of transport links on rental prices.