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…
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?
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.
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:
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.
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”.
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.
My views as an expert letting agent on how to protect yourself from situations like these when letting your property out in Bristol:
Adil Ayub, Director