You must always know your tenants
Unknown tenants are dangerous to your wealth. I’m not talking about squatters, but your tenants’ friends and family who come to stay with them for a few days and end up living in your buy-to-let property long term. Their names aren’t on the tenancy agreement, and you haven’t vetted them.
In this article, you’ll learn simple ways to stop guests becoming illegal tenants.
Why you don’t want unknown tenants in your buy-to-let property
When a house guest morphs into an unknown tenant, you take on a lot more risk. Because you haven’t vetted them, you have no idea who they are. They could be unemployed, a drug dealer, or have a criminal record. Because their name is not on the tenancy agreement, they aren’t liable to its terms and conditions. And they aren’t liable to pay rent.
Who are the most common unknown tenants?
Unknown tenants aren’t necessarily bad people, but it always pays to know who your tenant is, by employing comprehensive tenant vetting procedures. If a house guest becomes a long-term stayer, and they are over 18, they are effectively a tenant. The most common unknown tenants include:
- University drop-outs: your tenant’s child drops out of university or college and returns to live with their parents.
- The boyfriend or girlfriend who ‘stops over’ on the odd occasion. These odd occasions become more regular until they have moved in.
- A sick relative, often an elderly parent who has had a fall or an illness from which they need to recuperate. It could be especially dangerous – if they suffer another fall on your property, for example, you may be held liable.
- The illegal sublet, when your tenant lets all or part of your property to another. The disadvantages outweigh the advantages of subletting – our advice is never to allow it.
How do you stop your buy-to-let property from becoming occupied by unknown tenants?
You may never know that your property is occupied by tenants who you don’t know. That is until you get an early morning call describing a catastrophe that has happened to your buy-to-let property. The following steps will help stop a two-tenant buy-to-let expanding to six, eight, or ten behind your back
1. Vetting your tenants
Perhaps the most important part of the process of finding great tenants is to vet them properly. You just cannot afford to skip any of the tenant checks, including employment history, rental history, and credit history.
2. Get the tenancy agreement right
The written tenancy agreement sets out all the terms and conditions of the rental. It tells the tenant what you are responsible for, and what their responsibilities are. All people over the age of 18 and who are living in your property must be named as tenants.
It’s advisable to include clauses that describe the conditions under which others may visit the property, and when they would be deemed as tenants – for example, after a stay of more than two weeks.
3. Inspect the property regularly
Conduct regular property inspections, and check for maintenance issues and signs of unknown tenants. During these inspections, if we meet someone we don’t know or who isn’t named on the tenancy agreement, we’ll ask questions – and make sure they aren’t there when we next visit your property.
4. Make friends with the neighbours
Your property’s best friend could be its neighbour, so it makes sense to build relationships with them. Give neighbours a business card, and encourage them to get in touch if they think anything untoward is happening at your property.
To discover more about our investment property management processes and systems, and how we work to ensure only named tenants live on your property, contact one of the Ezytrac team today on +44 01522 503 717.
Yours in effortless property management,
Brett Alegre-Wood MARLA MNAEA