Read our Interview with Property Pioneer Paul Routledge and find out why some people have property nightmares – top tips for Landlords
When Paul Routledge called in to see a tenant, following a message from a concerned neighbour, he stumbled into a drug deal gone wrong. The Portishead landlord arrived at his property in Weston-Super-Mare to find the front door open and after two other men had fled he was confronted with his knife-wielding tenant who cut and stabbed him about the head. Fortunately for Paul, his son was waiting in his car and was able to drive him to hospital. The biggest shocker, however, was yet to come. As Paul was just recovering from his injuries he was picked by police, charged and held for attempted burglary following a complaint from the same tenant who had earlier attacked him. Paul was later released without charge and amazed to discover that because he had not lodged a complaint first, the police would refuse to take matters further. Paul was understandably outraged by this injustice and it was out of this that his organisation www.landlordreferencing.co.uk began.
The vast majority of landlords and tenants manage an effective relationship, with tenants respecting the property they live in and paying on time. Most landlords uphold their responsibilities by maintaining the property and adhering to regulations. As long as this happens, everyone is happy, but a bad tenant can make a landlord´s life a misery, cost them money and even put their safety at risk. Paul Routledge now acknowledges that he should probably have called the police first, but felt he had to do something more to help property owners protect themselves. He said:
Landlord Referencing for Safer Rentals
‘The Data Protection Act effectively prevents landlords from blacklisting bad tenants, but the way we have set up landlord referencing means that landlords can contact other landlords if they would like a verbal reference for a potential tenant. We don´t keep personal records, but we do record names posted by landlords which can then be checked out individually. Our system protects everyone´s privacy.
‘We have two criteria, credit worthiness and lifestyle. The lifestyle side is run as a free service and we offer credit checks at competitive rates. This not only protects landlords but means that someone who has had a run of bad luck financially, but is otherwise a good tenant, can still get a good reference. My own voids from damage, anti-social behaviour and drug related crime went down 21 per cent in just 18 months.’
Landlords can also share information on the community forum and check the record of UK tenants who seek out a rental agreement overseas. We will keep you up to date with some other exciting new developments planned by the company in the next few months.
As an experienced landlord and property pioneer we asked Paul for his top tips for anyone considering becoming a landlord for the first time. We are sure that even seasoned landlords can pick up a few hints from this list.
Top Property Tips for Landlords
- Carefully consider your budget and select a property for renting that best suits your needs based on maintenance, capital growth and yield.
- Ensure the property you buy for rentals is freehold.
- Selecting a 2-3 bedroom home will result in more stable tenancies because the tenant is less likely to outgrow the property.
- Learn as much about building and maintenance as possible and take care of your property. Regular servicing of equipment (such as boilers) and the ability to spot problems early will ensure a higher quality rental and happier tenant.
- Choose fixtures and furnishing carefully. Furniture should be robust and of reasonable quality with washable fabrics and laminate floors. Carpets are a bad idea.
- Using tenant referencing to ensure that your tenant does not a have a history of bad debt or poor lifestyle choices.
- Ensure you have a written contract that is legally binding with an inventory.
- Take out rent guarantee insurance – this is so worth it.
- Ensure that you and your tenants are fully aware of your rights and responsibilities. It is best to spell out any maintenance you expect in detail. Your tenant may not be experienced in taking care of your type of property
- Be a helpful landlord who is a good communicator. Generally speaking a happy tenant is a paying tenant, so anything you can do help solve problems will help secure a longer, easier tenancy.
For more information see http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/.