Thursday, 30 August 2012

Landlord vs Tenants

The private renting system can land both tenants and landlords in the soup when care is not taken. Two recent articles, one from the Herald Express; detailing rogue landlords in Torbay, South Devon, the other from the Central Somerset Gazette; concerning appalling tenants in Glastonbury.

Within Torbay, private landlords hold hundreds of low quality, ill-kept and poorly maintained properties across the resort. Many are often in the most deprived areas of the town, areas amok with the less disciplined kind of youth, prone to outbreaks of graffiti, noise and violence. Within just the last year, there have been 1400 complaints from local tenants, compared to just 3 and 40 from nearby, comparable towns. The landlords evict any tenant that complains about the low standard of living/quality of life.

The Glastonbury report tells the story of a landlord who accepted tenants on housing benefit and under the care of social services in the mistaken belief that this would provide some form of security, in that the public sector would ensure his new tenants are kept in line. However, when they finally moved out the unfortunate landlord discovered his house had been effectively ruined, with human excrement on the walls and the interior furniture left in wreckage.

Both cases highlight the importance of ensuring a detailed check is made on both sides of the tenancy agreement. Both the landlord and the tenant-to-be are making a costly decision that significantly affects their lives. Such a decision cannot be entered lightly and without the utmost care. The landlord should make use of a professional tenant letting service which obtains references from past landlords to check how they treat a property and their employer to check they can pay the rent.

The tenant should make at least one visit to the property before signing anything. A prospective tenant should make a check-list of what they're looking for in a property, tell-tale signs of maintenance required and prospective problems. They should check the lights, plumbing, electrical, doors, heating and more to know the property they are moving into sufficient to provide for their basic needs. Another useful task would be contacting local residents, scouting the nearby area to judge the quality of the neighbourhood.