The United Kingdom (UK) Landlord Syndicate has advised landlords across the country to be more vigilant when it comes to checking up on long-term tenancies. Landlord complaints about subletting, flooding, mildew buildup and other problems have been increasing and the Syndicate warns that waiting too long to check up on properties may foreclose opportunities for remuneration later on down the line. Experts recommend landlords check properties every three months and to keep a record of such checks. If something is wrong the landlord will have a better chance of catching it in time, and if there is a record it could help in a future dispute. For more on this continue reading the following article from Property Wire.
As a growing number of renters seek greater security through longer term tenancies, the Landlord Syndicate is advising landlords to make sure they carry out mid-tenancy checks on their properties.
There are concerns that if they do not check on tenants frequently enough they are leaving themselves at greater risk of a dispute later down the line.
A number of incidents have recently been brought to the attention of Nick Lyons, managing director of inventory management company NoLettingGo, as a result of landlords not accessing their rental properties at all during the tenancies.
‘We have had floods that weren’t reported to landlords, numerous cases of sub-letting, and most commonly at this time of year, where tenants are neglecting to air properties, build up of condensation and mildew contributing to long term damage,’ he said.
As a result, the Landlord Syndicate, a network of companies that provides a support centre for landlords, is reminding landlords that in the eyes of the law they are the professionals and a problem is only a problem if it is reported.
‘The average length of a tenancy has grown from approximately 13 months to nearly 17 months. On the one hand this is great news for both landlords and tenants, offering each a greater level of security, but on the other, landlords run the risk of becoming complacent, assuming all is in working order at their property, and this can be a costly mistake,’ explained Lyons.
Landlords should access their properties every three monthly interval but no less than six months, especially during the winter when problems are more likely to arise. Checking on a rental property gives landlords the opportunity to assess its condition, address any potential health and safety issues, deal with maintenance jobs before they become a major problem as well as check for signs of misuse.
‘If there is a problem, such as condensation build up, the landlord can advise the tenant on how to resolve and prevent the issue happening and carry out any necessary repairs. Landlords can’t be held liable for issues caused as a result of tenant misuse,’ added Lyons.
He also pointed out that documenting mid-tenancy checks provides evidence that the landlord was aware there was a problem and took appropriate action. This audit trail can be a powerful tool in protecting a landlord from being fined should a dispute arise.
‘Landlords are the responsible party in renting a property and should not assume that tenants are going to automatically rectify any issue, especially if they consider it the responsibility of the landlord. Landlords need to be proactive by carrying out documented property visits and bring it to their attention,’ said Lyons.
‘Carrying out this process either yourself or through a recognised inventory management company will save you hundreds of pounds in prevention of problems and save you even more in the event of a dispute at the end of the tenancy,’ he added.
Meanwhile, the latest landlords survey from Upad shows that the number of landlords who are bullish about the outlook for the private rented sector in 2013 has fallen 10% from a year ago to 63%.
‘The overall trend for 2012 shows a decline in confidence in the second half of the year as economic growth failed to pick up, generating concerns about tenant's personal finance with bank lending continuing to be challenging and increases in rental values slowing,’ said James Davis, chief executive officer of Upad.
‘The problems affecting the wider economy are highly unlikely to disappear in 2013 with the recent snow even tipped to trigger a triple dip recession, so for that reason I suspect landlords to be cautious about over exposing themselves. However, that said many of our landlords do appear to be in a far stronger place than might have been anticipated a couple of years ago,’ he explained.
There is reason for optimism in the sector according IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer who point out that despite the lack of confidence, falling house prices and low interest rates, ongoing demand for rental property in the UK and higher yields have created the positive environment for UK landlords to thrive with over 8% achievable in some UK cities such as York.
The Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) has also seen an upward trend in landlord investment over the past 12 months with the number of buy to let properties owned by landlords rising to eight in the fourth quarter of 2012, up from seven at the beginning of the year.
‘Be they bullish or bearish, first and foremost in landlord's minds should be the avoidance of void periods in 2013 as this will directly affect their yields,’ added Davis.
Upad specialises in helping professional tenants rent properties from landlords directly by allowing landlords to manage their own viewings and receives around 20,000 tenant enquiries per month.
This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.