DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL LONDON LETTINGS FIRM DRAKER LETTINGS

Q. I have recently bought my first rental investment and have heard some terrible stories from landlords who have had nightmare tenants. How do I stop this from happening to me?

A. Firstly, be very careful not to rush into the first tenancy that comes along. If your property is well presented and intelligently priced you will have more than one person interested. Be careful if you have an over-eager estate agent who may be inclined to push a tenancy at you and may try to prey on your desire to get a quick result. Where possible use an agent that you know and can trust to give you an honest opinion about the tenant. At Draker we have a strict policy to correctly assess the risk of each tenant and to relay this to our client. Beware the more aggressive agencies that are more inclined to “sell” a tenant to you. Ensure that your agent obtains full references and explain clearly that the tenancy is strictly subject to the references being acceptable to you. You should always have a clear work reference with the tenant’s position, tenure and salary, as well as a bank and previous landlord’s reference. Requesting rent upfront is always a very good way to filter out tenants who may be a little lacking in the reference department.

Q. My tenant has recently torn a hole in the living room carpet in my rental flat. It was only in reasonable condition and will need to be changed in a year or so. What should I charge as I think asking her to replace the whole thing might not be fair?

A. Try to calculate a proportion of the cost that you would be comfortable paying, taking into account wear and tear. We advise that clients should realistically look to change their rental carpets every three years. If the carpet has been down say two years, calculate a third of the cost of a new carpet and open a businesslike dialogue with your tenant. Technically some landlords may argue that the tenant should replace the entire thing, which you may want to remind your tenant of. Explain that asking for the proportion that you are, is reasonable and is only being offered to assure that a quick and positive outcome is achieved for all. Finally agree everything in writing and in detail to avoid any misunderstanding at the end of the tenancy.