Happy together? The Landlord & Tenant relationship
Published: 29/09/2020As strong as the bonds of any marriage or partnership, our relationship to where we live can take a similar path and have a profound impact on our lives. Having found our perfect match, we look forward to the excitement of living together, making a home and creating memories to look back on with fond delight.
All relationships take work, and bumps in the road are an inevitable consequence of spending so much time in each other's company. Each day reveals more and more character traits as the business of being alive and being together brings both moments of joy, and irritation.
Although landlords and tenants don't share the same home to live in, they do share the same home to care for. And even if they are at different ends of the financial arrangement and tenancy agreement, they ultimately both want the same thing from the property (and each other): to make their lives better.
So let's take a look at how landlords can lay the foundations of long-lasting and easy tenancies, and how to keep a level head when things don't go to plan.
THE HONEYMOON PERIOD
It's good news all round when a tenancy begins: the excitement of a new chapter for the tenants moving in, and comfort for the landlord in having their property occupied and producing income.
The best tenancies, like all relationships, are built on mutual understanding. And the most solid ground for a landlord and tenant is to have an inventory prepared when the keys are handed over on moving-in day.
An inventory clerk will attend, take photos, make notes on the condition of the property and get the inventory signed off by your tenants. This creates an agreed record of accuracy to refer back to when your tenants move out.
Inventories are a sign of mutual respect for both your property and your tenants. An inventory demonstrates that you are serious about being a professional landlord, while also encouraging your tenants to look after your property by giving them a document of how they need to return it.
If nothing else, an inventory helps to minimise emotion and arguments, by replacing them with facts and pictures.
Moving in together is often the start of seeing things in our partner that we'd never noticed before. Similarly, most maintenance issues come up shortly after moving-in day because, as usual when you move into a new home, you always find something that doesn't work quite how it should.
It may have been missed when you bought the property, or when the new tenants viewed, or it might simply never have bothered - or been noticed by - the previous occupants.
Whatever the reason, once the issue has been reported it's best to get on with rectifying things straight away. Very rarely do problems disappear by themselves, and catching them early keeps the size of the job - and the repair cost - down.
You'll also prevent any grudges from forming and brewing over tiny little things.
BEING FOUND OUT
We've all made an extra special effort on a first date. Worn our best outfit; been on our best behaviour; listened more than we usually do. In short, we put on a really good front.
But we can't keep it up forever, no matter how we dress it up. The truth will always out and, when our cover is blown, upset surely follows. The same can be said for looking after your property.
While it pays to be mindful of your costs, prioritising the avoidance of expenditure over doing things right simply leaves the door open for more hassle later. Whether it's taking the cheapest quote from someone doing jobs on the side, or buying the cheapest tap you can find, you'll be compromising on more than quality.
An obviously well-maintained property attracts high quality tenants, achieves a higher rent and encourages the best behaviour. Seeing the pride a landlord takes in their property is a welcome signal to tenants that this could be their home for a long time.
A good managing agent will help you strike the right balance between expenditure and upkeep, often with reliable local contractors and suppliers. This will help you keep your tenants for longer, which means less wear and tear on your property from people moving in and out, saving you further expense and time later on.
GETTING SOME COUNSELLING
We all have thoughts and feelings, but that doesn't mean we always know what to do; in fact it's often an outside perspective that provides the answer. Likewise for landlords: just because you own a rental property doesn't mean you have all the answers to tenancy problems or conflicts.
Being a managing agent can be a bit like being a counsellor: we're always in the middle, with both sides looking to us for resolutions. There is definitely something to be said for having an outside observer and expert at your side: you'll have support and advice with a view that is not only objective, constructive and informed, but also helps you comply with the ever-changing and ever-increasing legislation that governs privately rented property.
Whether it's maintenance, nuisance, arrears or anything with the potential for conflict, there is certainly a lot to know: but you don't need to know everything yourself, to be sure of doing the right thing.
When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced the end of their relationship, their use of the phrase "conscious uncoupling" was heavily ridiculed in the press as daft celebrity culture. Why couldn't they break up in an explosion of emotion like everyone else?
The majority of tenancies end perfectly amicably, with most tenants looking after the property, and most landlords doing the same. But there are times when disagreements over damages and deposits require a bit of Gwyneth & Chris maturity to save things getting out of hand.
This is where your inventory will prove an essential ally, with a revisit from the inventory clerk on moving-out day to report back with updated photos and notes, again signed off by the outgoing tenants. Without an inventory, you'll find it difficult to withhold any of the security deposit if your tenants dispute your claim. In fact, you'll open yourself to a lengthy process which you'll likely lose with no written or photographic proof.
While an inventory will help you and your tenants to keep it professional, a managing agent will be able to help with reliable local tradespeople to swiftly provide quotes and repairs. This will save you precious time in making your claim so you can agree a sum with your tenants with minimal fuss, then return the rest of their deposit and get your property ready for renting again.
So there you have it: by taking a comprehensive approach to setting up a tenancy, and a professional approach to looking after your rental property to make it an easy home to live in and love, you'll be sewing the seeds of an ideal partnership between you and your tenants.
If you'd like to talk about any aspect of being a landlord, or you'd like to have your rental property looked after for you, we would love to hear from you.
Berkhamsted office: 01442 863000
Tring office: 01442 820420