Don’t make the mistakes that crucify so many small-scale landlords
Landlord insurance is very different to normal home insurance. If you let a property and it is covered by a standard home insurance policy, don’t expect the insurer to cover any damage caused by your tenants. They won’t.
Richard and Rosalind Meryon found this to their cost in 2012. Their home of 36 years was trashed by cannabis-growing tenants. In total, there was £56,000 worth of damage caused to their £300,000 property.
Mr and Mrs Meryon had moved abroad and were renting out their home to a local couple. They made some mistakes along the way. They trusted their chosen tenants and didn’t have an investment property manager looking after their property. And they bought the wrong type of property insurance.
The mistakes made by the Meryons are typical of small-scale private landlords, according to research from Lloyds Bank Business Insurance Services. This research highlights the types of problems you are likely to suffer as a landlord, and which your tenants may try to conceal.
What tenants do to your buy-to-let property and will try to conceal
The top five confessions by tenants range from accidental damage to noise disturbance. Tenants also go a long way to hide what they’ve done from their landlords. The most common tenant confessions are:
- Accidental damage caused to the property
- Blocked toilets and sinks
- Smoking inside the property
- Defaulting on rent or bills
- Causing noise disturbance
Lesser problems include damage caused by pets, and leaving the property unsecured. One in twenty tenants said their home had been burgled while living there – and they hadn’t told their landlord.
How do tenants hide what they’ve done to your property?
Many tenants would rather hide their mistakes and accidents than tell you what’s happened. They’ll try to clean up their mess, or even hire professionals to do so for them. A third have cleaned their carpets, and nearly as many have painted their walls. 5% have paid for a professional cleaner to clean the entire house.
Why should it matter that a tenant rectifies their mistakes?
Some landlords aren’t bothered that their tenants have damaged their property, provided the damage has been rectified. They take the view that it is one fewer problem they must deal with.
But what if the repair made is only good enough as a temporary fix? A leaking pipe is patched but not fixed, for example. Further down the line, when the tenant has left the property, you discover an expensive damp problem which could have been avoided.
If there has been a repair made and it causes harm or injury to a tenant or visitor in the future, you could be personally liable. That could be expensive. A standard home insurance policy won’t offer you the public liability insurance you need as a buy-to-let landlord.
Why don’t tenants tell landlords about their mistakes?
We all have accidents in the home. Children tend to run through a house with muddy shoes. Red wine gets spilt on furniture and carpets. Leaking pipes happen, and toilets and drains get blocked. A relative of mine once walked through a closed glass patio door! Fortunately, he wasn’t damaged. The same couldn’t be said of the door, of course.
There are several reasons a tenant will try to hide damage or other issues from you. These include:
- They are scared you’ll take the earliest opportunity to get them out of the property, and they’ll have nowhere to live.
- Tenants are afraid that a clean-up or repair will cost a lot of money, and that you’ll charge them.
- They find it hard to speak to you, or it’s difficult to get hold of you to report a maintenance issue.
If you have a good relationship with your tenant, they are more likely to tell you if they have caused any damage to your property. You’ll be able to assure them that their position as your tenant is not under threat.
If you make it easy for the tenant to report any damage or other maintenance needs, they are more likely to do so. Then you can take the appropriate action, and ensure your property and financial safety isn’t compromised.
Here at Ezytrac Property Group, we ensure we know your tenant. We conduct regular property inspections and ask about issues which may have arisen since our last visit. And our repair reporting system makes it easy for tenants to notify us of property maintenance issues the moment they occur. Contact Ezytrac today on +44 1522 503 717 and discover why we’re one of the fastest growing investment property management groups in the UK.
Yours in effortless property management,
Brett Alegre-Wood MARLA MNAEA