I was chatting with one of our landlords the other day about tenants and how, in the words of Forrest Gump, they are “like a box of chocolates (without the labelled sheet) …you never know what you’re gonna get”.
This particular landlord had been receiving our Newlsetters for some time and we spoke regularly about certain issues that were arising with his tenants. He said that he felt relieved that he was able to come to me for help.
Prior to joining our QT family, he had several awkward encounters with his tenants, which I was able to help him with. He had mixed emotions (as is usually the case being a landlord) when we reminisced about them, from chuckling at one encounter to being bewildered by the next.
Here’s a couple of examples of awkward tenants that he faced and how I helped him to deal with them…
Tenant 1- The Demanding Toddler Tenant
Tenant 1 seemed absolutely lovely, she was a lady on her own, mid 30’s, great job, great references and they got on straight away.
As soon as she moved in, the landlord was inundated with texts and calls from her; “I’ve left my keys in the house”, “The light bulb has blown”, “The pipes make funny noise when the boiler turns on”, “There’s leaves in the drain”, “the temperature in the fridge isn’t right” …I need help wiping my backside!
These are genuine messages (apart from the backside one…hopefully!)
At first, he felt bad for the tenant and felt obliged to go and help (as people do) but then found that, as time went on, she knew she could continue to be demanding. He was getting texts late into the evening with silly demands and threatening to go to citizens advice if he didn’t go and sort the problem.
At this point he knew things had to change. All of his other tenants were plodding along nicely, reporting the usual things as and when they arose, but this woman was taking the biscuit.
After seeking my advice (I was more than happy to offer advice) he reviewed the tenancy agreement and made a list of the type of works that he was responsible for and the type of things she was responsible for. He also stated a reasonable time frame in which to respond to maintenance issues and said that, if he was called out to carry out minor jobs that she is responsible for, or for loss of keys, he would charge her £45 per call out.
He sent the letter recorded delivery and, since then, the harassment has stopped and the poor man can sleep again. He now only deals with the usual maintenance issues that he is responsible for.
Don’t get me wrong, we don’t want our tenants to NOT report issues with the property but, at the end of the day, you are running a business, not a free babysitting service for the clueless.
Keeping on top of repairs as and when they are reported is better for the landlord as he can keep his property up to date, rather than having a massive payout after say a 5 year let. I do always urge tenants to report any maintenance issues directly to us as soon as they arise.
Tenant 2- The evader
Tenant 2 Was a quiet, unassuming man, late forties. He had a good job and reference from previous landlord. In the first few months of the tenancy he paid his rent on time each month and kept himself to himself.
When the time came to carry out an inspection on the property, the landlord rang the tenant but there was no answer. The following day the landlord text him but had no reply after a couple of days. This continued for about a week with no response from the tenant.
Starting to get a little concerned, the landlord went one evening and knocked on the door to see if the tenant was OK. The tenant didn’t answer, which was strange because the lights were on (this is the point at which you wish you’d never put a spy hole in the front door).
After calling me for some advice once again, the landlord went home and, like a pro, got to writing a letter saying that he had tried several times to contact the tenant (stated days and times of attempted contact) to arrange a property inspection. He also made clear in his letter that as per the tenancy agreement, inspections were part of the agreement and that, he was hereby giving 48 hours notice to enter the property and carry out the inspection. The letter also made clear that if the tenant was unavailable then he would enter with his spare keys.
Now, firstly, you usually only have to give 24 hours notice (the time frame should be in your tenancy agreement) but the more notice you can give, the better. Also, try to make it a time when you know the tenant will be in (evenings or weekends are usually best). This landlord hand delivered the letter first thing in the morning, took a photo and asked a neighbour to witness that he had delivered it. Never leave yourself vulnerable to “What letter? I never got a letter!”.
Funnily enough, the tenant miraculously figured out how to use his phone and text the landlord to say that he would be there at the time of the inspection.
The landlord was dreading doing the inspection thinking the tenant had trashed the house but, the strange thing was, the house was absolutely fine and the tenant was lovely and polite. It seems that some people just don’t want to be bothered or feel like THEY are being judged or inspected.
That’s why it’s important to explain that inspections are beneficial for both landlord and tenant. The tenant gets to discuss any issues and show up any problem areas or areas they wish to decorate etc. And, at the same time the landlord can sleep soundly knowing his property is in safe hands (or pin point areas that need addressing that the tenant hadn’t noticed…I’m sure you’d prefer the sleeping soundly option).
We have plenty of experience with finding the right tenant for your property. As you know this landlord found the tenants himself; however we tend to work out if the tenant is right for the property by asking some key questions upon the viewing of the property. This all comes with experience. The questions come across as normal chit chat but for us it’s just an extra way to vet the potential tenant before we go ahead with any applications.
I hope you have enjoyed my article and found it useful in some way. For more information about anything relating to this article or if you would like any advice or help with your Nuneaton property investment, please feel free to pop in for a chat or give us a call on 02477 674 545