Monday, October 29, 2012

What is it like to be your tenant?

Something rarely asked by landlords is ‘what procedure does my tenant have to go through to secure my house for let?’

Property Agents are thorough in promoting their means of marketing, but rarely offer a full explanation of what they expect from potential tenants, nor what they charge them to secure your house for rent!
 As a landlord you may ask ‘why would this concern me?’ but would you wish your property to be less attractive to a tenant than the competition due to high agency fees or poor service?

Tenant referencing is very important. Successful referencing will confirm that your tenant can afford to rent your property, and not have any adverse credit or previous landlord history.  A fee will be requested from your tenant for this, and it is important that you make sure references have indeed been cleared before your tenant moves in. At Scott-Bates & Coles we provide landlords with proof that referencing has been completed, without compromising any data protection laws. These references are paid for by the tenant.
‘Other costs?!?’  You are perfectly entitled to know what charge the agent makes for processing references as well as what ‘other’ costs your tenant may find themselves paying out for. One Exeter tenant reported fees of up to £400! This particular agency charging for things such as deposit submission, something that all agents can do for free should they chose to use The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) as we do. Hence, at Scott-Bates & Coles your tenant incurs no further costs to move into your property.

‘Holding fees’, (where tenants pay for the period they hold the property off the market before they move in) are a matter of contention. Agents have the potential here to charge your tenant for doing nothing at all. What you should be asking is ‘if my tenant cannot move in for a certain period of time, what protection do I have if they then fail to do so?’ Like we do at Scott-Bates & Coles, all agents should have a system in place to cover this area of concern. Our procedure costs nothing to your tenant as long as they move in on the agreed date. If they do not, you as landlord is reimbursed for the time wasted. This procedure is agreed in writing, and is fair and transparent to all parties.

Once a tenant has been found and successfully processed through referencing, you may choose that your agent manage your property for you. Make sure you are clear on how they mean to do so. Ask questions such as ‘when will my property be inspected?’, ‘Who does my tenant contact in the case of an emergency?’ and ‘What happens at the end of the tenancy?’ It is vital that your tenant feels that someone is available to them at all times. It is often the damage that has been left to get worse, through lack of property inspections and tenant contact, that bring about a large number of deposit disputes. At Scott-Bates & Coles we schedule regular property visits with your tenant, and provide them with a 24 hour 7 day a week emergency contact number. 

Scott Bates & Coles Estate Agents, pride ourselves on the fact we have never had a deposit return disputed. We owe this to clear property management and thorough check out procedures. Feel free to email us to find out what we can do for you.