Three things that give buy-to-let landlords nightmares between tenancies

How to smooth the transition from one tenant to another

As your current tenant nears the end of their tenancy agreement, you should find out whether they intend to stay on in your property or leave at the end of the fixed term. You don’t want to suffer a costly void period (see our article “Facts about void periods all buy-to-let investors should know”).

If your tenant does tell you that they intend to move on, you should start marketing the property immediately. The ideal situation is that your current tenant will move out, and within a day or two you will have a new tenant renting. Provided you have time to get the property ready for the new tenant, this shouldn’t be a problem.

The thing is, how do you make certain that you have enough time between tenancies to prepare the property, and how do you make certain that the first tenant leaves on time and the second tenant has a home to move into when you said they would?

Three things that could go wrong between tenancies

There are three main things that can go wrong at the end of a tenancy. Each affects your ability to prepare the property and stick to your agreement with the new tenant.

1.    The current tenant can’t move out on time

This isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Your current tenant gives notice and finds a new home. Meanwhile, you have found new tenants and agreed on a moving-in date. Then your current tenant drops a bombshell. They can’t move out on the day they said and would like a couple of extra days in your property.

You now have a choice. You could let them stay in your property for a couple of extra days because you don’t want them to be homeless – especially as they have a small baby. You’re not an ogre. On the other hand, you might insist that they vacate your property… and they might stay anyway.

Either way, cleaning and maintenance work could be delayed, and you may have to put off your new tenant. If your new tenant is relying on their new home being ready a day or two after your current tenant is due to leave, you could have a problem.

Solutions to this problem might include to:

  • Allow your current tenant to stay an extra day or two, but charge them a fee to do so.
  • Put your current tenant up in a hotel. This option may depend upon how much gear they have to remove from your property.
  • Put your new tenant up in a hotel for a couple of nights. Usually, new tenants will accept this, though you may also need to foot the bill for rescheduled moving costs.

2.    The current tenant decides not to move

It can happen that your current tenant has a last-minute change of heart and decides to stay put. If this is the case and you have already signed a tenancy agreement with the new tenants, you’ve got a problem – especially if your current tenant then refuses to pay the rent.

There really is only one solution to this problem, and that is to evict the nightmare tenant. Your new tenant probably won’t wait for their new home, so you’ll have to start the process of searching for another tenant, too, but not until the current tenant has been evicted.

3. Your current tenant moves, but preparation work takes longer than expected

This scenario is more common, especially among DIY landlords and new buy-to-let investors. You underestimate the time it will take to prepare the property for new tenants, and on moving-in day the property still isn’t ready. You need another day or two to complete cleaning, redecoration and maintenance work.

There are a couple of possible solutions to this:

  • You put your new tenants in a hotel for a night or two, at your expense
  • You let them sleep in another of your properties for a night or two, again at your expense

Whichever option you choose, you must discuss with the new tenant and get their agreement. Your new tenancy will have started off on the wrong foot, but you will have been able to explain the situation and hopefully, they will be understanding. It may take time to build trust in the landlord/tenant relationship, though if the situation really was beyond your control then there is little else you could have done. Or is there?

Plan for the worst and hope for the best

If you plan for the worst, you’ll be less likely to suffer any of the above scenarios when a lease draws to close. This really is about allowing enough time between leases for the unforeseeable to happen:

  • Allow for a day or two delays in your current tenant moving out.
  • Bring in maintenance people, cleaners and decorators early in the process. Define the work that needs to be done, get quotes, and book their time between tenancies.
  • If maintenance and preparation work is set to take three days, allow for four or five days to ensure any delays are taken in your stride.
  • Minimise the risk of your current tenant staying in the property by clarifying and confirming leaving dates in writing.
  • Always approach your current tenant a couple of months before their tenancy agreement is due to expire to discuss what is due to happen when the final day of tenancy arrives.

Scheduling a tight turnaround is possible, but inadvisable. Things can go wrong. It’s better to give yourself a little breathing space than to let down new tenants and find yourself back at square one, with an empty property on your hands and at the beginning of the marketing and tenant vetting process again.

Our landlord clients benefit from our relationships with their tenants, our maintenance contacts, and the experience of our property managers. We keep void periods to a minimum, and 97% of our new instructions are let within six weeks.

Isn’t it time you benefitted from effortless property management from Ezytrac? Contact us today at +44 0 1522 503 717  to find out why we are one of the UK’s fastest growing national investment property management companies.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

About the Author:

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Ezytrac. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids. Brett holds both the Level 3 Property Mark Qualifications for Property Sales and Property Lettings and Management.