August 11

The cost of finding tenants when you’re a DIY buy-to-let landlord

It’s easy to get the wrong tenant when you’re a DIY buy-to-let landlord

In my last post, I discussed how much easier it is to find tenants in the internet age. Unfortunately, it’s also easier for bad tenants to find you. A few months ago a DIY buy-to-let landlord told me a story about his experience. The landlord had saved himself almost £900 on the fees that a lettings agency would have charged him with finding tenants and vet them. He was ecstatic about the savings at the beginning and his happiness soon changed into a nightmare find out why.

John’s first experience as a buy-to-let landlord

John had rented his first investment property, a 2-bedroom house in a quiet cul-de-sac, to a single woman for £800 per month. He’d advertised his property online and in local newspapers and had vetted his list of clients to reduce to four possible applicants. He was happy with his final selection, a professional woman with an excellent work history.
He met her at two separate viewings and had offered her terms of a low deposit of £500 and a single month’s rent in advance to secure the rental. She accepted and paid in cash the following day.
The problems began the day she moved in. She phoned and told John that she had cut her hand on the garden gate during the move.

The real cost that John had to pay

A couple of weeks later, the next door neighbour called John to complain about the constant noise coming from the buy-to-let landlord’s investment property. A few days later, after John had spoken to the tenant, he received a letter of complaint from the tenant about the state of the property. With the letter were a number of photos showing broken tiles, cabinet doors hanging off, and a missing smoke alarm. In the photos, John noticed a dog sitting in the corner of one of the rooms. He hadn’t agreed to any pets.
Whenever John went to the house, the tenant was nowhere to be seen. She didn’t reply to letters. After a couple of months, during which no more rent had been paid, John decided to begin the process of eviction. The tenant refused to leave, and so started a protracted battle that ended in the courts.
When John attended court, the tenant failed to appear. An eviction notice was agreed but wasn’t needed. The tenant had disappeared, leaving a trail of destruction and five months unpaid rent. When John totted up his losses, he found the total came to more than £11,000.
John had saved £900 by finding tenants on his own for his buy-to-let investment property and lost more than £11,000 by refusing to use an experienced and professional property manager or letting agency in finding tenants and doing the vetting.

The benefits of using a professional to find tenants

Of course, finding tenants is only part of the job of a property manager. Our process takes the strain out of your buy-to-let investment, managing the whole process from start to finish:

  • We’ve got a list of pre-vetted tenants waiting for suitable properties to rent
  • We have an even longer list of trusted local tradesmen who we use to take care of all those niggly maintenance jobs
  • We carry out regular property inspections, comparing to our detailed inventory list, which can be photographic or video
  • We also draw up watertight tenancy agreements

Whether you’re a buy-to-let landlord or one of the new breed of let-to-rent landlords, our competitive charges are tax deductible. Our job is property management, and our motive is to make your investment property work for you. Before you decide to go the DIY buy-to-let landlord route, consider how you act in other areas of your life and why:

  • It would be cheaper to repair and service your own car, but you pay a professional garage to do the job for you
  • It would be cheaper to construct your own conservatory, but you employ a builder to erect the extra space
  • It would be cheaper to do the conveyancing on your investment property yourself. But a lawyer has the experience to make the process run smoothly

Need I continue?

If our experience in property management has taught us anything, it is that the quality of your earnings from your investment property stands and falls first on the quality of tenant vetting, and then on the quality of ongoing property management.
If you’ve got any questions, please feel free to contact the team on +44 1522 503 717 today.
Karen Nicholson


buy-to-let landlord, find tenants, investment property

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