I’m guilty. Guilty of being a tunnel-visioned douche-bag.
There have been times in my landlording career that I have managed to neglect my responsibilities because I was so engrossed on a single task that I forgot about the bigger picture. Being a landlord isn’t just about finding tenants and collecting rent. That’s a common misconception by those with no experience. Unfortunately, the truer picture is a lot more complicated, consequently time-consuming.
In the past, my mind has caved-in and become obsolete during a period, which I feel to be, one of the most stressful points in a landlord’s career- the period which involves Finding Tenants while a property is vacant. That can be one hell of an expensive journey. I’ve been there. It sucks big time.
I’ve been so engrossed with trying to find tenants (especially when I have a vacant property), that when I actually hit gold, I just want to rush the tenants in, and then kick back with a Cuban cigar while sighing with relief. However, moving tenants in is only phase one. Making sure everything is running smoothly once a tenant has moved into their new home is an entirely different ball-game. Teething problems are common, and they should be seen to immediately.
I actually want to focus on one specific aspect out of a long list of responsibilities that a landlord should address when a new tenant moves in. It’s a specific which I’ve definitely neglected before (due to the reason mentioned above), and I’m sure others have also fallen victim. It’s a really simple step; something a lot of landlords probably don’t think twice about, but failing to do it properly can be costly. I’m living proof of that.
Updating Utility Bill details
Well, yesterday I had new tenants move into a property; the previous tenants handed their keys in the day before. As soon as the new tenants moved in, I was on the phone, contacting various utility services, updating the records with my newest tenant’s details.
Ultimately, it should be the tenants responsibility, but I wouldn’t count on that (based on past experience). So, this is just a quick reminder for all you landlords to remember to switch the necessary accounts over as soon as your new tenants move in, or even a few days before, otherwise you could find yourself with some unexpected bills.
- Water- you may need appropriate meter readings
- Gas & electricity- you’ll need appropriate meter readings
- Council Tax
- Cable / TV / Digital
Your first step should be to make sure your previous tenants have canceled/transferred all their extra luxuries like telephone lines and Digital TV. That’s probably worth doing before the tenants’ move out.
The second step should be to MAKE SURE your new tenants have registered their new details to all the appropriate services (as listed above).
Thirdly, I would recommend checking that your tenants gave (if they did at all) the correct meter readings to the services that run on meters. There maybe nothing malicious involved; but there may have been an innocent mix-up.
Don’t rely on tenants
Seriously, don’t rely on tenants to handle any of the transfers. I’ve trusted a previous tenant to do it all before. The shit for brains lied to me about having transferred everything over, and I ended up going through a lot of unnecessary hassle. I ended up with a council tax bill and a £150 gas and electricity bill.
Even if my new tenants say, “yeah, I’ve transferred everything over to my name”- I don’t believe them. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business! I call up all the providers and double check that everything is done properly.
I advise all landlords to do the same. Don’t be a fool, don’t trust your tenants :)