Strategies to help Buy to Let Landlords rental income profit by finding great tenants
With our reach across the country, you can imagine we’ve heard just about every tenant horror story there is. We regularly speak to buy-to-let landlords that have gone down the DIY route and come unstuck with a tenant from hell. They’ve realised that paying a property management company to take care of the day-to-day business of being a landlord is the surest way of making maximum profit with minimum effort from their property investment.
In this article, I’ll describe the different types of a tenant from hell. You’ll also learn the procedures we’ve put in place to help our landlord clients avoid them. We hope it’s useful for you.
Tenant from hell No. 1: The Non-Payer
It is the tenant most people think about when asked what their horror tenant ‘looks’ like. The thing is, there’s a difference between a tenant who just refuses to pay and one who doesn’t pay on time.
One of our new buy to let landlords, John, had a great tenant, but he’d never pay his rent on time. It often caused John cash flow problems – the mortgage had to be paid without the rent being in the account.
After we took on the property management for him, we put John’s tenant on our rent monitoring system. It quickly became apparent that the tenant wasn’t being obstructive by paying the rent late intentionally; he just kept forgetting. The solution was easy: we put a direct debit in place, with a reminder email that the debit was to be taken and now both landlord and tenant are happy.
That was easy. Anyone could do that but there’s the flip side of the coin where you could find a tenant that finds himself in financial difficulty. There’s no cast iron guarantee that you can avoid this – recessions and redundancies happen. But there are measures that we take during the vetting process to minimise this risk to buy to let landlords:
- We’ll check the tenant’s employment status
- We ask for dates of employment, positions, and check on salary
- We check directly with the employer (and previous employers, if necessary)
We’ll also run a credit check, which tells us about debts, credit payment history, and any County Court Judgements.
Finally, you get the malicious tenant from hell. It is the one who thinks it’s their right not to pay their rent. We’ll ask previous landlords about their experiences with a tenant.
Credit checks, employer checks and previous landlord checks are all part of our comprehensive tenant vetting process.
Tenant from hell No. 2: The tenant who doesn’t respect your property
As part and parcel of your life as a buy-to-let property investor, you will have to contend with maintenance and repairs. White goods break down; homes need decorating, pipes can leak, accidents can happen and garden fences and gutters suffer in high winds. There’s a difference between maintenance needs like these and damage caused by negligent tenants. The former is natural wear and tear; the latter is nothing more than damage by irresponsible tenants.
If you find yourself with a tenant who doesn’t give a hoot about looking after your investment property and the property inside it, you could find yourself with an expensive repair bill – carpets to replace, white goods to repair, walls to patch up, and so on and so forth.
During the vetting process, you’ll be surprised what we can find out about a tenant. Their social media accounts tell us a lot, but perhaps not as much as other vetting measures we take. As we’ve already discussed, previous landlords are a mine of useful information. And during our tenant background checks, we’ll find out about personal histories that include vandalism and theft.
If a tenant has caused problems before, it’s odds on they will do so again. We’ll find out by talking not only to their current landlord but landlords from earlier in the tenant’s renting history.
We also conduct regular property inspections and check the property against the property inventory list.
The tenant from hell No. 3: The tenant who disappears
“My tenant simply disappeared! It took me three months to realise he no longer lived in my apartment,” is a story that we’ve heard more than once.
You’ll usually get some warning of this happening: a month or two when no rent is paid, and no answer when you try to call the tenant. When you finally do gain entry to the property, you discover the tenant has left – and left belongings behind.
Clues that a tenant is liable to do a disappearing act include:
- Unstable work history
- A history of moving from one place to another at regular intervals
- Make-believe references
- Incredible references that you just don’t seem to be able to contact
Tenant from hell No. 4: The tenant who disagrees with everything
It is the tenant who is going to give you a real headache. They’re the ones that will call you at silly o’clock on a Sunday morning to complain about a dripping tap. If they can find something to complain about, they will. Next door’s dog barks at passing cars, the local school bell rings too loud, the padlock on the shed needs replacing, and the elevator is too slow.
They’ll question every condition and clause in the tenancy agreement, and moan about the rent every time it’s due. When maintenance needs doing, they’ll make sure it’s done on their terms, with no give and take at all.
We get to know our tenant clients, looking out for poor behaviour and tardiness in turning up for meetings. We’ll take note of those that are argumentative. These are the tenants that need extra special handling – or no handling at all if you get my drift!
Tenant from hell No. 5: The non-mover
You’ve got a tenant who has stopped paying rent. You ask them to pay up or ship out. They refuse to move and tell you that you can whistle for your money. You have to do things legally, but that could mean several weeks (or even months) of hassle and expense. You’ll still have to pay the mortgage while the tenant lives in your investment property rent free.
We’ll help you avoid this tenant from hell by asking previous landlords of any disputes, missed rent payments, or if the tenant ever refused to leave. We’ll also ask if any landlord ever had to take the tenant to court.
If you do find yourself with a tenant who needs to be evicted, we’ll use the rules for buy-to-let landlords to evict nightmare tenants in the quickest possible time. You’ll get your investment property back faster, and the next tenant in quicker.
Vetting, tenancy agreements, and being a good buy-to-let landlord are the key
The keys to avoiding tenants from hell are having a comprehensive vetting procedure in place, ensuring that your tenancy agreement is both detailed and watertight, and, of course, being a good landlord.
These two keys are the backbone of our value we bring to buy to let landlords as a reputable property management company. Our mission is to ensure that all our clients are effortless property investors not stressed out buy to let landlords. Contact one of the Ezytrac team today or me on +44 1522 503 717, and we’ll be happy to discuss all the methods and procedures we use to make sure you benefit from great tenants in your buy-to-let property.
Yours in effortless property management,
Brett Alegre-Wood MARLA MNAEA