Thursday 25 May 2023

Five tips to avoid ‘nightmare tenants’

Most tenants simply want to live in peace in a home that they can treat as their own, whilst happily paying the going rate to do so. A very small percentage, however, will set out to either mistreat the property or purposely not pay the rent. Here are five tips to avoid these so-called ‘nightmare tenants’:

1. Offer tenants a nice home
If you offer a neglected property in poor condition, you are likely to attract less interest and will have to settle for tenants who are perhaps unable to secure a ‘nicer’ home. Meanwhile, if the property is well-presented, it will attract a wider pool of tenants to choose from and they will most likely take pride in keeping it in good condition. 

This applies to ongoing maintenance issues too; afterall, if you don’t care about the property, why should your tenants? Furthermore, tenants will feel aggrieved paying full rent for a property that isn’t fully-functional or being maintained as it should be. 

2. Match the property to the right tenants
It’s hard to say no sometimes, but a property needs to suit its occupants. For example, most blocks of flats won’t accept pets as it is part of the head lease. This isn’t unreasonable if you think about trying to live with a dog in a small second-floor flat with no access to outside space and with neighbours on all sides of you. It might also be unwise to allow two adults and three children to rent a two-bedroom flat; they simply need more space and amenities than that to live comfortably and to be able to keep the property in good order.

3. Reference thoroughly
This is probably the most critical step in ensuring you avoid ‘nightmare tenants’. Helpfully, referencing is something that prospective tenants with something to hide will try to avoid. Do not take shortcuts because a tenant wants to let the property quickly, can offer monies upfront or because a ‘friend of a friend’ says they’re “good for the rent”. Genuine tenants won’t quibble about you undertaking credit checks and asking for documentation, such as payslips and bank statements, so as to give you a full picture of their financial standing and rental history.

Furthermore, (and similar to point 2) you aren’t doing someone any favours in allowing them to commit to a rental property that is simply too expensive for them in the first place.

4. Ensure all the paperwork is in place
Tenancy agreements should contain clauses relating to sub-letting, noise, pets and other common do’s and don’ts, which will help avoid conflicts later on (and can become grounds for eviction if they are ignored). A detailed inventory, including photos, not only serves as a record if there is a dispute over the deposit at the end of the tenancy, but acts as a deterrent in the first place (as the recording is so detailed) and a guide for tenants at the end of tenancy (so they can check how the property should be left so as to receive their deposit back).

Ensuring all the paperwork is completed and provided to the tenants in the correct manner will also avoid problems later on. For example, if not served correctly, you open yourself up to fines, compensation claims and difficulty in progressing eviction notices if necessary; all of which a ‘nightmare tenant’ could use against you.

5. Keep in touch
Maintaining an open dialogue with tenants and responding to tenancy-related and maintenance queries promptly will encourage a good relationship. Visiting the property regularly will allow you to spot problems early, as well as checking all is ok with the tenants so as to maintain and prolong their tenancy. It also shows you are pro-active and haven’t just ‘left them to it’; tenants are more likely to take liberties with absent landlords. 

There are many other ways to minimise the risk of letting your property to problematic tenants, some of which are quite subtle and come via experience. Ultimately there is no fool proof way to avoid a ‘nightmare tenant’, although these five tips will go a long way to avoid those who seek to enter a tenancy agreement with bad intentions from the outset.

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