>How to avoid nightmare tenants

An attractive buy-to-let property investment can soon turn into an unwelcome liability if you find yourself with a nightmare tenant.

Adam Tanner, expert property manager at Orchards Estates in South Somerset, advises landlords across the county and beyond on all aspects of tenancies. He shares his top tips on being a successful landlord and five ways to avoid the troublesome tenant.

Know what you are getting into

Being a landlord is a serious business and should not be taken lightly. The best way to avoid problems in the future is to make sure you are prepared for the responsibilities of being a landlord.

Getting advice and understanding your market is a key step. Adam recommends joining a trade association like the National Landlords Association, who help promote and protect landlord interests, and appointing an experienced commercial property solicitor.

Prepare and research

Before even allowing a tenant into your property, take photos and compile a condition report. These will be useful if issues do arise over damage during the tenancy.

When it comes to choosing a tenant, ask yourself – what sort of a tenant am I hoping to attract? When interviewing potential tenants make sure you have all the details so that you can identify them – and take note of the early warning signs too. If you cannot call them back or their email bounces, you might want to look elsewhere.

Remember to ask questions and listen to your potential tenants. Do not just list off their responsibilities. Being a good judge of character will help you to make the right decision. Remember to ask for references from an employer or previous landlord.

Clear communication

A successful relationship between landlord and tenant is built on open communication. This can help to reduce missed payments and unprofitable voids.

Be friendly, approachable and understanding so that they can come to you before issues get worse. At the same time, make clear that this is a business agreement. Ensure they understand that you will be monitoring rent collection and conducting regular property inspections.

A fair and clear tenancy agreement

Establish a strong professional relationship from the start by setting out everything in a carefully drafted tenancy agreement. It is important to take the advice of a specialist who can make sure your interests are served.

Remember, prevention is better than cure, so preparing for every possible outcome and circumstance is crucial. Your tenancy agreement should outline all of the tenant’s responsibilities including the agreed rent amount and their responsibility to keep the property in order.

Failure to draw up a proper tenancy agreement puts the landlord at a disadvantage when problems arise.

Do everything by the book

As a landlord, you must fulfil your legal responsibility, which includes:

  • that the home is fit for habitation;
  • there are no hazards that can cause injury;
  • all electrical appliances are tested,
  • safe and in working order; and
  • any gas boiler has a current safety certificate.

Failure to follow these rules will undoubtedly increase the risk of problems with your tenant. Unfortunately, issues can arise however prepared you are. It is essential to keep a written record of all communication if it is needed as evidence in court.

If you are considering becoming a landlord and need further advice, contact Adam Tanner at Orchards Estates in Stoke sub Hamdon on 01935 277977 or 01460 477977 or email adam.tanner@orchardsestates.com. Adam is also on Facebook and Orchards Estates are on Twitter, follow them at @orchardsestates 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.