7 Tips to Stop Landlord Losses Caused by a Nightmare Tenant
I recently read about a private landlord in Staffordshire whose tenant caused £20,000 of damage. It took landlord Jean Fox five months to evict the tenant after she finally started proceedings. As if this cost wasn’t enough, there were also months of rent the landlord wasn’t paid.
Fox said, “It was a beautiful house and I was watching it being destroyed.”
Is there something you can do to stop the same happening to you?
What Can You Do to Stop a Tenant Trashing Your Buy-to-Let Property?
Can you stop a tenant trashing your buy-to-let property? The short answer is no. If your tenant is hell-bent on doing damage to your property, there is not much you can do to stop them. However, with good property and tenant management, you can prevent it from getting to this.
Here are our tips to help protect your property from a trash tenant.
1. Vet Tenants Effectively
Don’t take the word of friends or family that a tenant will behave themselves. Most people know nothing about how their acquaintances act behind closed doors. Before signing a tenancy agreement, it is critical that you vet prospective tenants properly. This includes checking with previous employees, running credit checks, and speaking to ex-landlords.
Jean Fox’s tenant was known to her. “I was friends with my tenant’s mum, and she was his guarantor. He had a job and I saw wage slips and certificates. I had no concerns about him and at first, everything was fine.” Hmmm… the number of times I’ve heard similar stories.
2. Make Sure You Have a Watertight Tenancy Agreement
The tenancy agreement is the document that sets out the terms on which you let the property to your tenant. It states the tenant’s responsibilities and yours.
Jean Fox reported that the neighbours had complained about the tenant because of loud music, and people visiting at all times of the day and night. Police raided the property on several occasions, often discovering drugs. She said that neighbours told her of “all sorts of things going on in the house – drugs, fighting, cars always coming and going, people going in and out at all hours. There were police raids as well as loud music, banging, shouting and screaming inside the property.”
3. Conduct a Complete Property Inventory
Before the tenant moves in, put a property inventory together. Include photos and videos, and go through every room – and outside – diligently. When the tenant moves in, go through the inventory with them and ask them to sign it. This is your proof of condition should a dispute arise at a later date.
4. Conduct Regular Property Inspections
Put it in the tenancy agreement that you will be conducting regular property inspections. They are your chance to ensure that your property is being looked after. Any damage or maintenance issues, or other issues, can be addressed immediately – including breaches of the tenancy agreements.
5. Maintain a Good Landlord/Tenant Relationship
Stay close to your tenant. Make sure that you have a good relationship with your tenant. Avoid conflict, keep on top of maintenance, and ensure that the tenant knows their responsibilities from day one. A communication breakdown is often the first sign that something is wrong.
6. Get Yourself Good Landlord Insurance
Jean Fox’s story highlights why you should ensure you have landlord insurance. The six types of landlord insurance you could benefit from include:
- Accidental damage
- Malicious damage
- Landlord liability
- Rental guarantee
- Loss of rent
7. Act Immediately
Finally, if your tenant breaches the terms of the tenancy agreement or stops paying their rent, act immediately. Don’t think that things will turn around. Once a tenant goes bad, it is very rare that they get back on an even keel.
Jean Fox let her property to a friend’s son. The friend became the guarantor. That’s a mistake. It is very unlikely that you would chase a friend for the money their child owes. I suspect that the friend feels terrible. I also suspect that the friendship is now strained – like Jean Fox’s bank balance.
You can never guarantee that a tenant won’t go bad. But you can take precautions to protect yourself against the financial costs. These precautions start before your tenant moves in. Comprehensive vetting is essential. If you maintain a good relationship with the tenant, the possibility of them going bad should reduce. Conduct regular property inspections. If things start to go awry, act immediately. The longer you leave things, the worse it will get.
Finally, never think of landlord insurance as an unnecessary expense. It is an essential protection.
At Ezytrac, we offer landlord insurance to suit your needs. It is one of the reasons we are one of the fastest-growing investment property management companies in the UK. To learn more, contact Ezytrac today at +44 0 1522 503 717.
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