I don’t know why, but tenants seem to think that they’re the only one’s that should be thrown under the magnifying class and put under scrutiny when it comes to creating a binding tenancy agreement with a landlord.
I’m telling you as a landlord, that tenants should be just a stringent with referencing landlords as landlords are with referencing tenants! It’s a two-way street!
Good landlords ending up with a lousy tenant is equally as devastating as a good tenant ending up with a lousy landlord.
So here’s a few tips on how tenants can minimise the risks of ending up with a dodgy-as-fuck landlord!
Dear Lord, I think I’ve discovered a new comparable past-time to watching paint dry. It’s called “listening to tenants complain about the complete lack of decent landlords”
The excessive amount of complaints I read about on here – from tenants about their lousy landlord – is unreal!
But the reality is, if you end up (or have ended up) with a string of shit landlords, then you’re most likely the catalyst behind your own bad fortune.
Frankly, you’re either too stupid to find a decent landlord, or you’re too stupid to find a decent landlord. That’s probably a bitter pill to swallow, but I’ll happily force your head back and toss it down your gullet.
Needless to say, with a minuscule amount of effort, you can dramatically reduce the chances of getting lumbered with a deadbeat landlord. That’s all it takes to put your prospective landlord through a screening process.
Somewhere along the line, I think the idea of tenants taking steps to validate the value of a landlord became so outrageously unorthodox that no one bloody does it. I want that to change. TODAY!
There are plenty of procedures tenants can run through in order to minimize their exposure to bad landlords. I’m pretty certain if all tenants followed a few of the procedures, they’d save themselves from falling victim to the antics of rogue landlords, and I’d probably have a lot less people complaining on this website about landlords (although it can be amusing at times, so hopefully not every tenant in the UK will read this blog post).
The bottom line is, tenants should be referencing landlords just like landlords reference tenants.
Steps to bagging yourself a decent landlord
Here are a few of my tips for tenants that plan on dealing directly with landlords! Take it with a pinch of salt if you wish. I’m just saying…
1) Tenancy Fees!
Since the 1st of June 2019, landlords and lettings in England are NOT allowed to charge tenants with letting fees, which includes:
- Referencing Fees
- Viewing Fees
- Tenancy set-up fees
- Check-out fees
If you’re renting a property in England, and your landlord tries to charge you with any of those fees, AVOID! More details available in my blog post which covers the legislation which has banned tenant fees, the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
If your a tenant renting outside of England, unfortunately your landlord may not be restricted by the same kind of legislation (but you should check). In any case, any fees you are subjected to should be fair and not excessive! If you’re dealing directly with a landlord (and not a letting agent), they should have very little reason to enforce unreasonable or hefty fees!
2) Check the property is clean & presentable
It doesn’t matter what part of the country you’re renting in, or how little your budget is, the property you’re viewing should be clean and presentable, at the very least. First impressions are everything.
If the landlord doesn’t have the decency to push his/her mum through the front door for a little spring cleaning before your viewing, then they’re not going to care about the condition of the property when you’re living in it.
3) Don’t agree to a property which requires repairs
Common mistake, and I’m still amazed at how often tenants fall victim to this basic trick. This ploy existed back when we were monkeys, yet we’ve still not evolved past it.
If something in the property needs repairing, don’t fall for the following line, “Don’t worry, that will get repaired next week (after you’ve signed papers and moved in)”
Don’t sign anything until everything is in working order. Once you’re legally tenant (after signing the contracts and the start date commences), landlords will have a legal grip of you, and their eagerness to address repairs often die quickly.
4) Check the property has smoke/fire alarms
If the landlord isn’t seinsble enough to have smoke/fire alarms installed, it’s a clear signal that they care more about the gum stuck on their shoe than you and your safety.
5) Legal obligations at the start of a tenancy!
If the landlord doesn’t have all the legally required documents in place, then he/she does not give a damn about you or their legal responsibilities, and that’s a worrying thought.
Before starting a tenancy, you should ensure:
- A valid and up-to-date Gas Safety Check has been conducted.
- You are a shown a valid Energy Performance Certificate so you can assess the energy efficiency of the property.
6) Tenancy Deposit Scheme
This one is probably the most obvious tell-tale sign of whether or not your landlord is legit or not.
All landlords should secure any deposit they receive (no matter how small) into a Tenancy Deposit Scheme with in 30 days of receiving it. The landlord must also serve you with prescribed information, which contains details of where the deposit is secured, along with various other details regarding the protection of the deposit.
This is beneficial to both landlord and tenant, and most importantly, it is a legal requirement. If you’re failing to check this vital piece of information, then you’re destined to be commanded and conquered by a rogue landlord.
Ask your landlord where they intend to secure your deposit (if they require one, that is).
7) Ask the landlord for references of previous tenants
Ask the landlord for the details of previous tenants so you can contact them for references. Nothing beats a reference from previous tenants, besides from a handjob.
Sorry. That was inappropriate, wasn’t it?
But on a serious note, i’d probably take a handjob over a reference. I’m still being appropriate. I should stop.
Most landlords/letting agents reference the shit out of tenants, to the point of intimidation and harassment. It’s a beautiful process. Feel free to do the same. It’s only fair and effective.
8) Talk to the neighbours
Ask the neighbours about the landlord and the previous tenants. If the landlord is a douche-bag, believe me, the neighbours will most likely be aware of it.
9) Ask for ID & proof of ownership
A lot of the most common landlord scams that tenants fall victim to are actually based on unauthorised individuals letting out properties.
I’m always left surprised at how little tenants want to know about me, their prospective landlord, especially while I’m referencing the crap out of them. It’s perfectly OK for tenants to ask for proof of ownership. In fact, as a landlord, it shows me that you’re not a complete dumb-ass.
Ensure your prospective landlord is who they say they are, ask for photo ID. Then ask to see their Land Registry papers to prove that they own the property! Alternatively, for £3, you can search property ownership information on the Land Registry website. Well worth the investment in my opinion.
If the property is being handled on behalf of someone else, ask the relevant questions, like where the owner is and why they’re not managing it. If the representative provides an unconvincing story, there’s could be a toxic reason for why.
10) Ask questions about the property!
The landlord should know every detail about the property e.g. which companies are supplying the gas, electricity and water. Be wary of landlords that don’t know their own commodity.
Those were just a few of my tips, but there are plenty more steps tenants can take to prevent themselves from encountering their landlord(s) from hell. Perhaps you can suggest a few more ideas below…
As with most commodities these days, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. There are plenty of good and bad landlords roaming around.
If anyone has any further suggestions, thoughts or ideas, HOLLA!
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.