Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Looming Threat

For some lucky people, renting is a glorious world, a constant fountain of glee, contentment, joy and freedom, with tenants waltzing from one ideal home into another lovely residence. All interactions with owners, letting agents and well, darnit - everyone serve to reaffirm the tenant’s faith in human nature. Rented homes are grand, repairs are prompt and prices are reasonable. Happy days! But even fantasy renting is about to get a whole lot worse. It's the news of 'home-owner's soaraway house price delight.' Hooray!

I am as ever dubious that prices are rising as much as claimed (compare 'prices asked for' with 'prices achieved'). In London demand is high and supply is tight, but elsewhere - like less salubrious parts of Glasgow - the cost of a home is stagnant after a fall. Mostly, I believe that febrile, rising house prices are extremely disadvantageous to tenants, especially those saving to buy, but more especially, any tenant whose landlord is one of those so-called 'forced' rentiers, who own homes they cannot afford to sell due to negative equity. Boy can they be difficult.

Often, they do not inform the mortgage company or insurers, which leaves tenants vulnerable if they default, or if there are structural problems with the building. They are often ignorant of the law related to renting out property. They can also be very bitter, and more than other owner resent their tenants, who they view not as the nice people who are keeping them afloat, but as irritants, who whine and bleat for repairs. (Landgirl is the exception to this sad reality.)

They hope to sell up as soon as possible, a fact they often hide form tenants. In the worst examples, they inform tenants not by carefully consulting, thedn arranging for viewings when it is convenient. Nor will they jeopardise their rent by giving notice to tenants, giving them the benefit of certainty. Occupants face having strangers traipsing in and out at their capricious leisure. I've even been told of rentiers attempting to retain deposits because the home they were trying to sell was deemed not to be clean enough to pass muster for viewers, which, politely put, is cheeky.

If acting properly and respectfully, they sell with vacant possession, and so, inevitably, tenants will have to move. The bad rentiers insist on multiple intrusions - viewings at awkward, random times. They will expect the property to gleam.

They might even let themselves in unannounced with some random people to gawp, as once happened to me. An editor I work for was in bed with his girlfriend, but told 'Just hide under the covers until we're gone.' Or there’s my friend 'Dave' who was enthusiastically and athletically expressing his love for his boyfriend.

This will hit if prices rise. Landlords who do not wish to let homes for the long term, and plan to offload their property ASAP must be compelled to inform tenants, who already endure the tyranny of institutionalised insecurity, and live knowing they might have to move every six months.



Anonymous said...

Yep, many accidental landlords are bloody awful but I doubt you could legislate against them.

Far better for tenants to take responsibility for their own actions and spend some time and money researching a potential landlord.

After all, that's what any responsible landlord would do.

Regards, HB Welcome

Rich Tee said...

"spend some time and money researching a potential landlord."

This bloke is brilliant, isn't he? Does he do stand-up? Tell us, HB, how is a tenant supposed to "research a potential landlord"?

Anyway, there is a flat in the building opposite for sale in the Estate Agents next door (small world where I live), it has been in there for weeks now. Seller hasn't reduced price. Clearly the market is not particularly buoyant in the North of England.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rich Tee,

Does he do stand-up?

Have you heard the one about the tenant who didn't bother researching landlords?

They were moved from pillar to post all their lives, claimed they were victims, whinged about the system and were habitually shafted by criminal landlords.

How is a tenant supposed to "research a potential landlord"?

Similar to how they research you.

As a bare minimum;

Carry out a land registry check here (costs £3)-

That will tell you who the owner is, when they bought it and who the mortgage lender is, if there is one.

Research the mortgage lender and find out if they specialise in BTL or residential. If it's residential, ask for proof of permission to let and be forewarned they will probably sell it when the market improves.

Find out when they bought it and for how much here-
(If they paid top dollar for it in 2007, start worrying.)

Check out their PPR while you are at it.

Check it has an EPC and when it was done here-
(Hardly worth the paper it is written on but is indicative of how long they have been a landlord and that they comply with the law.)

If it is a HMO, check the local authority online to see if it is registered.

If it is in a landlord licensing area (such as Scotland) check they are registered. (Meaningless other than showing they are inclined to comply with the law).

Speak to the previous tenant and/or neighbours.

Look the landlord up on google, facebook, duedil, linkedin etc

Check them on the County Court Judgement(ccj) register here (costs £4)-

Check them on the bankruptcy/insolvency register (free) here-

Speak to the landlord. Ask why they are letting, what their job is, how long they intend letting, where do they live, how do you contact them, what do they do with your deposit, do they know what they are talking about, do they belong to a landlord association, do they have other properties, does what they say tally with what you already know.

Check their ID before handing over any money.

Ask them if they mind you doing a credit search on them. They might have a slightly valid objection as a credit search reflects negatively on their credit rating-but if they are that clued up about it, they should have a recent copy of their credit report to hand anyway.

If they do object to a credit search you could ask to see the last mortgage statement instead.

If a landlord won't cooperate, be very wary. I'm not saying every landlord will 'pass' all this (although a good one would) but at least you have a good idea where you stand and are less likely to become a victim.

Far better than-

Knock! Knock!

Who's there?

The Bailiffs, your home is being re-possessed.

Regards, HB Welcome.

space cadet said...

F'ing hell, what deluded world do you actually live in HB???? Here's a quick relaity check:

- LL's aint always gonna be doing the viewings.
- Letting agents will strive to never tell you who the LL is. (even tho this is illegal).
- If LL does do the viewing, you'll be lucky to even get their surname *
- Tenants have less than 24hrs to accept something they've been offered. Finding something a)in budget b) in area and c) that meets any kind of decency standard and d) whatever else, like accepting HB will be hard enough.

Just when, do you expect tenants to do all these checks huh?

* only in Scotland can you find the LLs name from the register. Which tells you nothing worth knowing, like if that LL ever failed to protect a deposit etc..(also illegal).

Rich Tee said...

HB Welcome lives in a world all of his own.

Anonymous said...

- LL's aint always gonna be doing the viewings.

Agreed, but that doesn't stop you communicating with them.

- Letting agents will strive to never tell you who the LL is.

Agreed, if you want a good tenancy don't use uncooperative letting agents or even letting agents at all.

- If LL does do the viewing, you'll be lucky to even get their surname

As I said, spend 3 quid and find it out from land registry.
However, if someone won't tell you their surname, do you really want to enter into a business agreement with them?

- Tenants have less than 24hrs to accept something they've been offered.

24 hours is plenty of time to carry out the checks (with the possible exception of a full credit report).

Just when, do you expect tenants to do all these checks huh?

Before wasting time on a viewing and certainly before handing over any cash.

What deluded world do you actually live in HB?

One where people take responsibility for their own actions by making common sense precautions to not becoming a victim. As you clearly don't check out your landlords, it explains why you've been shafted so often in the past. I suggest you do so in future.

Regards, HB Welcome

space cadet said...

Priceless advice. Tenant asks for landlord's surname, ID and credit check before going ahead, then.. never hears from that landlord again. Funny, that.

Landlord's name and reg no. (if England dared to regulate) should be available to every person viewing the flat. Then you a) have a clue who it is and b) can trust in a system that doesn't require £3 every time i want to find this out. (i.e every time I view a flat that's half decent).

I especially like to piss off the LL and hang around to speak to the tenants.

space cadet said...

So you hand over a months rent, and deposit, to someone who's name you don't know, for a property you've not even bothered checking they own??

Nope, never done that myself. (don't be so dumb as to assume). Frankly, if i waited for LLs to volunteer it at the viewing (they might not even attend).. or the letting agent to give it me... I might die waiting. That being my point, you idiots. Cos LLs don't want to volunteer this stuff. Let alone a bloody credit check and ID. Only regulation can make that happen.

Anonymous said...

Space cadet said...
Nope, never done that myself.

So at what point do you ask for the landlords name?

If you are waiting until he has enthusiastically and athletically expressed his love for you, then quite frankly, you deserve to be shafted.

space cadet said...

At the viewing. Sometimes you get it, first name and christian name, that's a jackpot. Do keep up.

space cadet said...

First name and surname, that's meant to say.

RenterGirl said...

Rich Tea and Space Cadet - I'll leave this with you, I think...

Emma said...

I don't mean to burst anyone's bubble but there seems to be a general assumption that landlords and letting agents tell tenants the truth - that really hasn't even been my experience. It starts at the viewing when you're told that of course the property will be cleaned before the tenancy starts, and of course that broken window/door/bath will be fixed. Of course the landlord is a professional and how dare you even think that they'd rent out a property whilst trying to sell it! But of course, if you're going to be 'difficult' and ask lots of questions then there are lots of other properties to rent ...

Next time I have to move I might actually ask the letting agent if I can credit check the landlord. Maybe they'll let me get references from their employer, mortgage lender and previous tenants too. Perhaps I could even take a deposit!

RenterGirl said...

Too true Emma. NB deleted Hb's comments and those in response as you then seem to insult theperson above. Just ignore him. I'll take care of him or her or 'it' ie a troll.

Anon Lanlord said...

1. Most letting agents will not give you the landlords name, as they don't want to loose their commission, in case you by-pass the middle man.

2. It difficult to sell or rent a property with a sitting tenant(s). The house is often a mess, untidy, smelly. Often the property will need a new coat of paint even though it was painted 12 month ago. Plus Repair & Maintenance, to fix all things the tenant broke. Otherwise, showing a property in such a condition, will look like the landlord is neglectful....

3. Earlier this year spent £12,00 refurbishing a property. To find the new bathroom cabinet is broken. Some of the kitchen tiles already have cracks. Some people don't care... it is only a 'rental'. The tenants don't care about the deposit, because they don't pay the last months rent. So I doubt, I will be able to recover the damage from their deposit.

RenterGirl said...

I'm sorry this happened. But yes - that's why agents try to list themselves as the landlord so tenants cannot find the actual owner - NB in Scotland this is especially dubious in law. It used to be that landlords would redecorate every year, or let incoming tenants decorate and even give them a week or so off the rent. But as for showing the place with still in it, well, it also used to be that landlords would employ a post occupancy cleaner, but I find it very hard to believe that homes are 'often a mess, untidy smelly.'