How to Manage the Tenants From Hell.
Having been in the property business for a number of years The Property Lifeline has seen most things and experienced its fair share of bad tenants. But what happens when you rent your property to someone seemingly respectful only to find out that you have just inherited the tenants from hell? We have found out the hard way! Following this experience we decided to write this article to help other landlords avoid the terrible tenants and the stress and financial loss they cause.
Top tip: The best way to handle a terrible tenant is to avoid them in the first place!
When thinking about renting a property, consider the general area and the kind of people that will want to live in your house. If the property is in a cheaper area there will probably be a large amount of tenants receiving housing benefits, if the property is in a particularly prosperous area you may find your tenants could be fairly affluent individuals expecting a very high standard of accommodation. Each market brings with it its own challenges and rewards.
After you have advertised your property to rent and the phone begins to ring have a short list of questions to hand to ask your prospective tenants to help you decide if they are acceptable. Ask questions such as why they are moving, employment status, are references available from employers, previous landlords and a character reference from somebody that isn’t a relation. Offer as much information as possible about the property over the phone so as not to waste anyone’s time at viewings.
Now that we have created a “short list” of potential tenants and organised viewings take time to chat to each prospect pay particular attention to how the present themselves, how they are dressed and how they communicate, this will give you a great insight into how the person takes care of everything else in their lives.
So we have now found some tenants we like and they would like to take the house. We now need to begin gathering our references and carry out a credit check. Below is a handy check list of what to gather.
- Previous landlord’s reference.
- Character references
- Employment references
- Passport so that you can make a copy
- Existing utility bills
- Credit score
Assuming all the above comes back clean we can now offer them the property and organise a move in date. However if there is a blemish on the credit report but other than that the paperwork is in order, we can always request a guarantor. This person can be a relative or a friend and by signing a rent guarantor form is committing to paying the rent should the tenant fail to.
Now that we have our ideal tenant we need to carry out a detailed inventory when they move in, we have found that an inventory is an absolute must in dealing with bad tenants. Take pictures or video if possible and make notes on the entire property and have the tenant sign the document upon moving.
If a deposit is taken it must be registered with a government backed scheme within a set timescale and the prescribed information handed the vendor. It is incredibly important that this is carried out exactly as the government has set out.
Following the above guide should enable you keep out bad tenants but if one does slip through the net it is paramount that things are dealt with quickly and thoroughly and that communication lines are kept open all the time. Bad tenants will look at any possible way they can to escape paying.
If you have a tenant whose situation changes and they now need government help in the form of benefits, accompany them to the housing office, complete any forms that need you input and insist that the rent is paid direct to you, the landlord.
If a tenant complains that something has broken, ensure it is inspected and fixed as quickly as possible, take photographs of before and after as proof the problem has been dealt with and .
If there is trouble at the property, speak with neighbours and try to build a mental picture of what has been happening at the property and then communicate this to the tenant.
If your tenant continues to cause problems or withhold rent and you have no other choice than to evict them there are two ways this can be done. If the tenant has been in the house for 4 months a Section 21 can be issued, this is a notice seeking possession, giving the tenant eight weeks notice to leave the property.
If you need to evict them on the grounds of rent arrears you can use a section 8 notice, however if the tenant is 4 months into a tenancy a section 21 is deemed a safer option as a section 8 can be contested in court.
Top Tip: If you find yourself in this position The Property Lifeline would strongly suggest that you instruct a solicitor to act for you, although this may cost some money, it may also save you many thousands in lost rent, should you make a mistake on the paperwork.
If you find that your tenant does not leave on the date stated on the notice you will then have to take them to court. You or your solicitor will have to make an application to the court and a date will be set for a hearing. It is vital that all information is sent to the court before the date set, this can include the inventory, photographs, copies of the AST, letters from neighbours, as much evidence as possible. If everything is correct the judge will award you a possession date up to 1 month from the day at court.
Should the tenant still fail to leave on this date you will have to make an application the court bailiffs to have them evicted, the bailiff will set a date and send a letter to the tenant explaining that they will be attending on that date to hand possession back to the landlord. It is very important that on this date you do not attend the property before the designated time as this can render the possession invalid. At this time the bailiff will remove the tenant and you are free to change the locks. Should the pre tenancy checks be carried out thoroughly your risk of inheriting a bad tenant are minimal but some do slip through!
Should you be facing repossession, in financial trouble or just need a fast sale of your property, no matter what your situation The Property Lifeline can help.
Visit us at thepropertylifeline.co.uk or call us on 0800 511 86 85