Check up on tenants to avoid disputes

by Daniel Jones

Landlords should do all they can to find out who will be living in their property before signing a tenancy agreement. This is the advice from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla), which is advising landlords to have "sufficient information" about prospective tenant to properly assess the risk in accepting the tenancy. It also advises checking the current and previous employment status of the prospective tenants as well as their renting history and any references provided.

The guidance comes as Arla reports that there is a growing number of first-time landlords, as demand continues to outstrip supply in the private rented sector. Latest figures from the Co-operative Bank show a fifth of new buy-to-let applications are from so-called accidental landlords, who find themselves renting out a property for the first time.

Ian Potter, operations manager at Arla, said: "Investing in a buy-to-let property has always been an attractive opportunity, and the high demand for rented property means there are a growing number of first time landlords in the market."

The organisation is keen to provide new landlords will all the tips required to avoid problems later.

Mr Potter said: "Making sure that your investment pays off takes hard work and commitment, but can be rewarding in the long term. If you're a first time landlord, it's crucial that you look for a licensed local agent to promote your property, and potentially also manage it."

Things to consider include taking out suitable buy-to-let insurance and compiling a property inventory. Arla suggests preparing a full, detailed inventory of the property to include a schedule of condition of all the contents as well as walls, ceilings, doors, and other fixtures and fittings.

Arla also recommends landlords have a "realistic" approach to void periods. Data from the organisation shows that rental properties are untenanted for an average of three weeks. But, Arla says it is advisable for first-time landlords to budget for eight weeks per year to cover times between rental agreements. "If your void periods are less, the extra return is a bonus," the organisation notes.

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Published on: March 2, 2012

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