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” Both equally brain-numbingly boring, and in some cultures, both considered torture. However, if I had to pick the lesser of two evils, i’d have to pick watching paint dry, simply because I’ve had to endure less of that in my lifetime.
Either way, let me get my underlying point across- there are decent landlords out there, lots of them. It goes without saying that I’m a prime example. That’s right.
Now, the question has to be asked, are you actually doing anything productive to try and find a decent landlord…or are you just focused on finding a property you can call home?
Don’t answer, I already know the answer!
The reality is, if you’ve had a string of shit landlords, then you’re most likely the catalyst behind your own bad fortune. 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. Or at least, the tenants that come onto this website while shitting their pants and screaming that all landlords are scum-bags, certainly don’t do it. But I think in general, most prospective tenants just walk into a letting agent with their hands in the air and their legs spread, waiting to be interrogated with a fluorescent probing device that vibrates.
Let’s not forget, a tenancy is a 2-way deal. It’s like a marriage, only better and more sexy. Both parties have the right, and should take advantage of that right, to
violate validate one another. Yet, it seems to have become tradition for the landlords to do the vetting, without having the favour returned.
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, but they probably will).
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. Take it with a pinch of salt if you wish. I’m just saying…
1) Check the property is clean
It doesn’t matter what part of the country you’re renting in, or how little your budget, the property you’re viewing should be clean, or presentable/tidy at the very least. First impressions are everything. Almost.
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.
2) Don’t agree to a property which requires repairs
Common mistake, and I’m still amazed at how often tenants fall victim to this prehistoric 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.
3) Check the property has smoke/fire alarms
If the landlord isn’t conscious 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.
4) Ensure landlord has all legal documents in place
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.
5) 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.
6) 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. 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.
7) 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.
8) Ask for 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.
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 probably an unsavory reason to why.
9) 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 simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.