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New Tenants--and Landlords!

Lynn Savill

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Hi to all

I wonder if anyone has an answer for this pair of very new landlords please?

We had 62 replies to our advert on Gumtree and it was difficult to choose one. However, we met a nice young woman who is Lithuanian. We did credit checks and spoke to their landlord.

Although husband and wife, and a joint tenancy, he was working away and we did not meet him.

We arranged to meet at the property on the 2nd Jan to sign Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. On arrival it was just the young woman with her mother (who didn't speak any English). Her husband had been called on New Years Eve and had to fly back to Lithuania as his Grandmother had died. We let the young woman sign and said that he would have to sign as soon as he arrived back in the UK.

We have been away for the last 10 days and whilst away the next door neightbour has called and said that the arguments between the couple go on into the early hours of the morning. There is also a barking dog and the husband is outside smoking and hawking very loudly.

The Application for Accomodation asked if there were any pets or if anyone smoked. They replied 'NO' to both. We did not want either.

My husband called there yesterday with a council tax form and there was certainly a dog there and, he thinks, the mother, who did not answer the door. She did however shout at the dog, he presumed telling it to be quiet.

We are seeing them this evening and would like to know whether the fact that the husband still hasn't signed makes any difference either in our favour or theirs if we decide to give them notice.

We would appreciate any guidance with this matter please.

Regards. LS

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Never let to Gumtree ad responders - they are always on the lookout for newbies like you.

Never let to anyone you have not met especially when English is not their first language.

I take it you have let on a 6 month AST so you are stuck with them for that amount of time unless they don't pay rent for 2 months or more.

Did you take a deposit, is it protected and the PI issued? If so then issue a Section 21 notice now to gain possession at the end of 6 months.

Get the neighbours to complain to the council about dog barking, smoking/spitting/anti social behaviour with a view to using that in a Section 8 possession case.

Read up on Section 21 and Section 8 and understand the difference.

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The most important thing that any potential landlord can do is choose their tenants very very carefully.

1. Get Referencies.....bank, employer and previous landlord.
2. Take out rent guarantee insurance.....its not expensive.
3. Get a home owning guarantor. Carry out reference checks on the guarantor. Give the guarantor a copy of the AST. Make sure the guarantor document is drawn up as a deed.
4. Don't let to people with pets or children......the risk of them giving you problems are big.

5. Don’t let to anyone under 18 (minors). Draw up your own limits….I prefer nobody under 25.
6. Don't let to smokers........you won't get rid of the smell.

7. Don’t do Company lets.

8. Don’t let to anyone on Housing Benefits.

8a. If you do choose to let to applicants on Housing Benefit CHECK that your mortgage & freeholder (if your property is leasehold) allows it.

9. Don't let to anyone who isn't working full time.
10. Inspect properties every 3 months.
11. Only let initially on a 6 month AST.....that way you can both part company after 6 months if you don't get on.
12. Use a reputable Lettings Agent OR one who has been recommended OR do it yourself (only if you know what to do).
13. Meet all of the tenants personally. Make sure you ask all the right questions and gauge whether they are right for you. ALWAYS ask WHO will be living at the property

14. Protect the deposit in one of the official schemes & issue the prescribed information within the time frame required.

14a. If you have a dispute with your tenant(s) over deductions from the deposit remember…..you can either go through the DPS adjudication process OR take the tenant to the Small Claims Court for recovery of your losses where you may have a better chance of success.

15. Issue a section 21 notice as soon as the deposit has been protected.

16. Make sure there is a detailed inventory & schedule of condition……signed by both parties.

17. Remember its a business....so avoid emotion & being overly sympathetic to your tenants.

18. Read as much as you can about renting & letting i.e. educate yourself.

19. Don’t let to anyone who doesn’t speak or understand English.

20. Don’t forget that you will need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)…….before you market the property.

21. Don’t forget to get an annual Gas Certificate.

22. You are responsible for ensuring anything electrical in the property is safe so consider getting the electrics checked professionally….and any appliances you provide.

23. Try to avoid having your property classified as an HMO……meeting regulations is expensive and time consuming.

24. Make sure all adults living at the property are on the AST & any other documents.

25. Carry out the new Legionella Risk Assessment that is legally required.

Here's my list of suitable tenants:


Applications from the following people are not acceptable under any circumstances

• Smokers.
• Pet owners (specifically dogs, cats or reptiles).
• Non English speakers.
• Those with resident children.
• Anyone in receipt of housing benefit or LHA.
• Those wanting Company lettings.
• Any letting that would results in overcrowding (eg parents with children in a 1 bedroom flat).
• Anyone running a business or commercial operation directly from the property.
• Applicants who have long lead times to moving in.

Applications from the following people will depend on circumstances

• Non working tenants…..including part time workers, unemployed, those looking for work, university students with/ without working partner are each considered on their own merits.
• Non resident children…..eg single, divorced, separated parent who looks after a child every other weekend may be OK. Would depend primarily on age of children.
• Lettings for less than 6 months…..normally requires higher rent to cover fixed costs.
• Poor references or no references or don’t qualify for RGI…..may require a home owning guarantor or rent period in advance.
• Age under 25......depends on the person, circumstances, maturity, job etc.

* Same sex couples....in my experience it often ends in tears before the end of the fixed term of the AST.
* People from what I would describe as 'Third World' countries eg Indian sub continent & Africa. I've had tenants who have never had a fridge or a proper bathroom or kitchen before. They are not familiar with vacuum cleaners, don't understand condensation & the need to ventillate rooms. They also hate the British winter.....many never having experienced heaters of any kind. My experience is they prefer to sleep on the floor rather than in beds.
* I use extra caution for any application from people outside of Europe & North America
* Anyone who requests anything out of my comfort zone/ my normal way of operating. It doesn't matter what the reason......its likely to make extra work for me and more chance of it going wrong. I stick to what I know.
* Shift Workers.......not an obvious group to avoid BUT when they work all night & sleep all day you try getting hold of them on the phone....its virtually impossible! Its OK if you want to call them at 4.30 am when they get home from work or in the small window of opportunity between when they get out of bed & leave for work in the afternoon, otherwise you'll never get hold of them......best avoid. If you need to carry out repairs on the property thee are more problems with shift workers cos you need to work the nightshift also......obviously not ideal.

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Follow Mortitia's advice, but don't expect immediate repossession at end of 6 months without further time for Court Orders, Bailiffs etc.

If it's of any comfort, I would guess most of us at one time or another have learnt the hard way with difficult tenants - even after doing all the 'right' things. Good agents can make bad selections too.

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