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What you need to know about letting a property in Bristol

Oct 5th 2022

Here our director Adil covers some of the common pitfalls and issues that private Bristol landlords face when renting out their property, from not legally protecting tenancy deposits to not properly checking out their tenants’ backgrounds. And it all started with a chance conversation…

What you need to know about letting a property in Bristol

Here I cover some common pitfalls and issues private Bristol landlords face when renting out their property, from not legally protecting tenancy deposits to not properly checking out tenants’ backgrounds. And it all started with a chance conversation…

The other day I was in a coffee shop, and whilst waiting for my coffee to take away, I began making conversation with a gentleman in the queue. We covered the usual comments about the weather, what I do for a living and just general chit-chat. As we began talking, he started to mention that he had bought a property at the end of last year. Like most landlords, he had purchased this property for his pension in the future, of course: “Property is a safe bet right?”.

But is it?

The initial lettings excitement and dreams of making money from property

Like most proud owners when getting the keys to your first property investment you are overwhelmed with emotions of excitement, frustration and anxiety all rolled into one, but overall it’s a positive experience.

This gentleman explained that once the purchase was complete, he had carried out a full top to bottom renovation, including brand a new kitchen and bathroom and new carpets throughout.  When he finished all the work he decided to seek wisdom from the internet and managed to ensure he had his gas and electric safety checks and certificates in place. TICK.

However, rather than going through a letting agency, he decided to advertise his property on a portal for private landlords and he was extremely impressed with the number of leads he received from his advert.  Whilst looking through his inbox he noticed the amount of interest he had in that single property, he couldn’t help but think, “if only I had some more properties I could probably make a good living at being a landlord”.

So the leads were flowing in, and he began to arrange viewings at the property. He went on to explain that he was approached by a couple who seemed like ideal tenants, they had not long relocated from out of town and had both just started working for a large local company.  What had made them more appealing than the other potential tenants, was that they had offered to pay him the rent 3 months in advance along with a security deposit.

For him things looked like they could not really get any better, he went home to his family delighted with the news of these new dream tenants.

How a lettings dream can quickly turn into a lettings nightmare for landlords.

Nightmare tenants

He went on and described how almost overnight this great feeling of getting on the Buy-to-Let investment ladder with dream tenants in place had turned into a nightmare:

  • The first three months flew by, and he did not hear anything from the tenants. It wasn’t until the rent was due in the fourth month that things started to take a turn for the worst.
  • Four days after the rent was due he decided to contact the tenants on their mobile phone; he was unable to speak to them so he left a voicemail for them to contact him as soon as possible.
  • The following evening he still hadn’t heard from them so he took it upon himself to visit the property (which is actually unlawful, but we’ll let that go in this instance).
  • One of the occupants opened the door and let the landlord into the property. The landlord then asked politely, “I’ve noticed that the rent has not been paid this month, is there any reason for this?”.
  • The couple went on to explain how they did not pass their probationary period at work and had both lost their jobs.
  • At this point, the landlord really did not know what to do or say, both tenants said they were actively looking for new jobs and that if he just bears with them they would be able to have the rent paid and up to date in no time.
  • The landlord was gutted, he had just spent most of his funds financing the refurbishment at his new property, meaning that he would now have to sacrifice part of his salary towards paying the mortgage repayments on this property.
  • He explained to his wife what was going on and they both remained hopeful that the tenants would find jobs quickly, although they were a little concerned over their family income.

Have you protected your tenants’ deposit?

A further three weeks passed by and then he received a text from the tenants saying that they have been struggling to find employment and had sought advice from friends, relatives, and of course, the internet.  Rather than giving any further comment on the rental arrears, they asked him if he had protected the deposit which they paid to him at the beginning of the tenancy.

The landlord didn’t know what they were talking about and asked them “what do you mean?” as he had no idea about the legislation surrounding the tenants’ deposit money.

The legal repercussions of not protecting a tenancy deposit

Legal repercussions of not protecting a tenancy deposit

Things started to go from bad to worse. The tenants had informed him that he was in breach of tenancy legislation for not protecting the deposit and that they would be seeking legal advice to sue him for not carrying out his legal obligations. Again the tenants refused to discuss the rent arrears and constantly threatened him with legal action.

Keeping this story condensed, as a result of this, the landlord ended up paying the tenants 3 times the original value of the deposit and also had to take legal action to begin the process of evicting them.  It was not until around 7-8 months that he was able to regain possession of his property.

I could see from the look on his face and tell from his voice that this had left him in a very stressful situation which took its toll, not only financially, but also personally on his family life.

He carried on and explained how he and his wife had to cancel their family summer family as a result of all of this, saying sadly “this was not the plan, our lives were meant to get better from this investment, and not the opposite”.

Cancelled plans due to tenant arrears on your rental portfolio

The moral of the story

I was really touched listening to his story, so much so that I just felt like I needed to write this article to educate anyone who is considering getting into the Bristol Buy-to-Let property scene. I would advise them to try and educate themselves beforehand so that hopefully they do not get into similar issues.

Landlord advice from an expert Bristol letting agent

My views as an expert letting agent on how to protect yourself from situations like these when letting your property out in Bristol:

  • Always clarify the tenants’ employment status, including probationary periods. Contact the employers to confirm the start date of the tenants’ employment and asked the relevant questions in order to establish if the tenants are going to be on probation. We would always request a guarantor for applicants in this situation or ask the tenants to pay the entire rental in advance.
  • Protecting a deposit is a legal requirement.  Be fully aware of the legislation around deposits. ALL deposits that are taken must be protected. Can you imagine having to pay 3x the deposit value? In essence, the advance rent this landlord received had to be paid back to the tenants in full.  Not protecting a security deposit seems to be quite a common problem that we come across often.
  • If you want to avoid letting agent’s fees, at least speak to a few local agents in the area as they would be able to provide basic knowledge on how to avoid these major pitfalls.
  • Approach Buy-to-Let like a business.  I personally recommend that all new Buy-to-Let landlords to remember that they are entering into a business. With every business, you must do your due diligence and have knowledge of the service or product you are getting involved with.
  • Educate yourself on the lettings industry.  In today’s times, we are blessed with a lot of organisations such as the NLA (National Landlords Association) and even local councils that set up events to educate landlords about current legislation and forthcoming changes.   A good agent will always run through their practices and make sure you are aware of your legal obligations.

 

Adil Ayub Lets Rent Bristol

Adil Ayub, Director

 

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27th March 2024
Judith Cameron said:
Dealing with Adil, Usman and their team is always a pleasure and we're delighted to see Lets Rent grow from strength to strength.
15th January 2024
BRACE duo said:
It was a pleasure to liaise with Usman at Lets Rent and to have my party wall fence secured by your maintenance service. He was quick, polite and efficient in dealing with my request .
29th November 2023
MaryLawrencia Owusu said:
TO UZMAN I SAY THANK YOU FOR MAKING MY STAY COMFORTABLE..THANK YOU
1st March 2023
Abid Hussain said:
Very good Lettings company and polite friendly service on the telephone. I would recommend checking out Let’s Rent before other property agents.
21st February 2023
Jacqueline Graham said:
Re: Usman Ayub – Lets Rent Letting & Management Prior to meeting Usman, the experience in trying to rent property in Bristol for over 6 months was demoralising. A Let's Rent representative (Seb) contacted me by phone to say they'd managed to alter a few appointments for the viewing & I would be me by Usman. He was punctual & informative throughout prior to our entrance to the building. He informed me of the layout, security & access which therefore covered all the H&S criteria in case there was an issue. Once the viewing was over, Usman assured me that he will send over the documents via email for me to complete, which was actioned without delay. Throughout the legal itinerary & required information, he kept me informed which enabled me to clear up some issues the automated system rejected unbeknownst to me. Usman is a valid member of the team and the functionality of this business benefits with him as a valid member.
12th September 2022
Sam Price said:
Seb's been a great help throughout our tenancy with lets rent. He's managed to keep us informed and up to date on our ongoing maintenance during the year. He's very professional and undoubtedly will have a great future career.
7th September 2022
Sue Gunning said:
Brilliant!! Stress free, will go lets rent everytime,very polite and kept us informed off every veiwing and smoothly it all went.
31st August 2022
Michael Maxwell said:
Really genuine and nice employees. They have been great in communicating with all requests promptly and ensuring we get a great service.
31st August 2022
Richard Lewis said:
Thank you for all your efforts over the years! it cannot be understated how important your support has been to making this bearable!
31st August 2022
Tom leng said:
Adil and the team are fantastic. Professional and personable and always available. You couldn't ask for much more, I've recommended to friends and family.