You will never enter into a rent agreement with the expectation that your property will be worse for wear at the end of the term. You are within your rights to request that any tenants you allow to stay in your property treat their home with respect and that they report any damage to you for immediate repair. However, as our team have discovered through various cases, there will be circumstances through which certain tenants do not treat your property with the care it deserves – leaving several landlords we’ve worked with in the past with considerable damage to attend to once they’ve been forcibly removed. However, there are ways you can avoid setting yourself up for a bad tenancy – and how you can avoid any unnecessary repairs once a contract term expires.
- Start short-term. While we always advise on thorough vetting, interviewing and referencing, there is no point to jumping in feet-first with a 12-month tenancy. If during this time, you find yourself stuck with a tenant who willfully ignores your contract and is keen to let matters spill over into the courts, you will be stuck with them for longer than you need to be. Start things slowly – agree to a short-term lease, six months maximum, to ensure that you can get the measure of your tenants.
- Get everything down in writing. We’re referring to rental agreements, inventories and anything which can be provided as a binding document in a court of law. A licensed solicitor will help you to design a contract and inventory sheet which protects the rights of you and your tenants while ensuring that they sign to understand certain elements and affectations within the property are to be kept to a good standard. This is particularly important if you provide a furnished property, but at the same time, it is not unreasonable for you to request that walls, doors, units, and carpets remain fit for purpose.
- Further to this, get a guarantor – someone who can ensure that rent is paid when the tenant has no funds available to do so. A tenant who is unable to provide a guarantor may give off warning signs – are they the sort of person who you can trust to deliver rent and keep your property in an excellent standard? Don’t just go with your gut – never stop vetting and referencing your prospective tenants.
- Never agree to verbal contracts. These simply will not serve you long-term, and they certainly won’t hold up in court. Written documentation and signatures effectively ensure that you have a legal paper trail to back you up in the event of a potential eviction. Believe us – proceedings cannot go smoother and speedier if you have a solid set of signed documents behind you.
- Do not, under any circumstances, let a tenant into your property until they have cleared funds for both the first month’s rent and security bond with you in full. This is simple common sense – you do not offer tenants a power play even if they seem honorable – you must protect your own rights and property at all times – no ifs, no buts.
- Make sure your property is regularly inspected. You are well within your rights legally to ensure that it is subject to scheduled inspections, even if these are quick glances to check that nothing untoward is occurring. We understand that you may not want to appear too suspicious – but consider the alternative. If you were to discover a tenant illegally subletting or causing untold damage to your property months into the contract, you would be kicking yourself for not inspecting earlier.
- Finally, and most crucially, get insured. Even if tenants are honorable and report wear and tear to you, you need to make sure you have some form of landlord insurance on both contents and rent guarantee. This means that you are effectively covered for any repairs and for any problems that may occur regarding rent payments. You can do no wrong by taking on further legal insurance