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Cut losses and move on advice needed


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Hi, 

This maybe a bit long winded but would really appreciate a few of peoples insights and advice on the issue am having with my property at the moment. 

i have a small two up two down property on the wirral in birkenhead, had it roughly two year now, first year i accepted guarenteed rent for first 12 months, and now the guarnteed is over is where my problems are.

Ive had two tennants (housing benefit) first tennant left property in a state and now the tennant who has just left has left it even worse, filled my backyard up with household waste to just below the window (letting agency said they would get her a bin and never did) but still a bit excessive and also smashed my window inside for good measure, oh and obviously not been paying rent since shes been there.

letting agency who ive used for both tennants hasnt collected a deposit, nightmare to get hold of at time and because of the latest tenant not paying her rent even when i was still on the guarenteed at the time didnt send me a contract through to go onto the normal rental contract of them taking 10% every month.

This has been my first investment property but thinking with all the trouble ive had with it is to just cut my losses sell it and recoup my money maybe a bit more and start again.

Any views would be appreciated and thanks for reading it all if you got down that far.

 

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Hi Joe,

 

That does sound like you've had a bit of a rough ride.  

 

My initial thoughts are regarding the agent and the income....

 

Have you used the same agent for both tenants? All issues relating to both tenants, does sound like it could have been avoided due to the agent you have.  They should have been chasing payment for rent, they should have carried out regular inspections, update of contracts, etc, but they haven't.

 

Although it's very much a hindsight scenario for you now, with regards to payments, I check my account every month to ensure the rent has been paid, whether it be through an agent or direct from the tenant, payment should be on a regular day each month so if I haven't received it within 3 days of the expected date, I'm on the phone.  In a way this should be the same for contracts, you should deal with BTLs as a business so I'm always aware of when a contract should be renewed or when the Gas Safety certificate needs updating and I will ask these questions 4 weeks in advance of when they're due to ensure it is all carried out and above board.  Saying that, do you know if the agents even carried out gas safety checks?

 

also, you've mentioned housing benefit.  Is the property in an area where the tenants are likely to fall into that category?  I have absolutely nothing against anyone on benefits and 2 of my best tenants in the past have been people in that category...but...you've so far had 100% of failings with benefit tenants so if the property is in an area where you could attract non benefit tenants, then that is probably where you should go if you were to keep the property, atleast in the first instance just to get some peace of mind maybe? In addition, get a new agent, no offense but if the above has all been dealt with by the same agent then you need to get rid asap, so get a new one and make it clear to them the issues you've had in the past and they will be fully aware of what you expect of them and then keep on top of them.  They should supply you with a contract detailing rental payment, collection, inspections, contracts, etc., so make sure they stick to it.

 

If you feel the property may be in an area where you may have similar issues going forward, then maybe you would be right to sell it, get the money and look to invest elsewhere.  Obviously this is all easier said than done depending on your situation, budget, etc., but only you know best as to what 'could' be possible in that area.

 

I wish you luck though, you've definitely had some bad luck with this!

 

TPH-Chris-Barnard.jpg

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Hi Barney

 

yed i have had the same agent for both tenants, regarding the safety checks i had a new boiler installed a couple months ago as mine packed in so a gas safety was carried out then.

yes more than likely the area is going to attract housing benefit this maybe something id jusg have to deal with.

giving it a few days since all the hasle and i think i agree with you and will change the agent and maybe give it another try at least now like youve said i know what i expect of an agent and can outline this to them at the start.

appreciate the response and advice and it will definetley be taking on board 

cheers barney 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Joe hi - what a nightmare for you - renting should never be like this!  It sounds like you have engaged an "agent from hell"!

 

There is a lot to unpick from your short thread but from what you have said you should:

 

  1. Find another agent who is going to do the job right and have the skill set to pick up the pieces of the mess you are currently in.  It would be in your very best interests to do some real research of available agents in the local area and I would recommend looking for one who is either ARLA or RICS registered and qualified and can demonstrate that they know what they are doing.  These will not be the cheapest but from what has happened to you so far you can see that poor agents will cost you multiples of the difference between a bad agents & a good agents fee.  
  2. When you have found a good agent ASAP & sack the current agent and make plans to go to the agency office to retrieve all the paperwork that belongs to you and the keys.  Hand deliver a letter sacking them for gross misconduct and catastrophic breech of conduct in the way that they have managed your property on your behalf and notify them that you are going to seek formal redress for their activities.  Do not let them create another tenancy agreement or put in another tenant - their 2 attempts have been disastrous for you already
  3. Find the copy of your agency agreement and find all the things that they have breached and write a list to use in your sacking letter.  One of the things to seek out in the agreement is their policy on the taking of and securing a tenant's deposit.
  4. Get out all the accounts they have given you - from what you have said it would appear that they owe you guaranteed rent which you need to recover and also find out where the other rent has gone.
  5. Find out which property ombudsman service they are members of, get their minimum standards and membership terms of service and start a formal complaint against the agency and seek formal redress.
  6. Find out if the agency uses any forms of social media and if you do not get a proper response and commitment to recompense you make your complaints known on the social media sites that they use so that tenants and landlords alike can be warned that all is not what it seems.  IF you think that there is more sinister activity going on it may be worth going to Trading Standards with a complaint as from what you have said above this agency should not be trading and will be robbing other landlords
  7. Consider suing the agency for the rectification costs although you are going to have to look at the cost benefit of this.  It mightnot be worth it and write off the last 2 years and start afresh with a proper agent.  
  8. Keep account of your losses as I would expect your accountant would be able to offset these from your tax accounts for the previous 2 years.

Your property should be relatively straight forward to let properly and if you are choosing to let to a tenant who is receiving housing benefit make sure that there are proper reference checks carried out on them to include at least their last 3 years of tenancies so that you have a track record of if they have paid the rents, would the landlord/ agent rent again to this applicant & have their rent payments always been made.  I would consider trying to get the agent to obtain a guarantor as well if possible as it gives some additional surety.  We also offer our landlords a tenancy insurance policy which covers unpaid rent and also court costs but this is only possible if they have passed the commercial reference checks that include income qualification and or guarantors.

 

This is not exhaustive but hopefully gives some pointers and I hope has something of use to you?

 

Good luck

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  • 2 months later...

Gosh Joe, you've certainly had a baptism of fire there!  

 

One thing to bear in mind is that many of the legal requirements for residential letting are the legal responsibility of the landlord, regardless of whether or not you are paying an agent to take care of these things for you. So, it is really important to not only have a highly competent agent, but to do your homework and learn about the legal requirements yourself also.  An added bonus of this is it will help you to differentiate between a good agent and a bad one. 

 

I would advise you to enroll in a Principals of Letting course to get a thorough overview of the basics.  The RLA offer one which you can elect to do online in the comfort of your own home, or you can spend a day attending the course in person, which I would personally advise in your case because you can ask plenty of questions of the course instructor and get your money's worth.  It's well worth the small investment.

 

It really does sound like your agent was quite negligent in it's management with your last two tenants.  I'm assuming from your post that you had a full management agreement with them.  Personally I do accept tenants in receipt of housing benefits, but I not only meet and evaluate them myself, in addition to the usual searches, but I also insist on a home owning guarantor who meets the income test for housing benefits tenants, or tenants under 25 years old.  This means that you have a guarantor who can meet any unpaid debts of the tenant, both for rent and any damage they may cause to the property.  Additionally a tenant who can provide a willing guarantor is less likely to trash your property and default on the rent!  

 

It is worth knowing that if a tenant is in receipt of housing benefit you can apply to the housing benefits department to have the benefits paid directly to you as soon as the tenant is 8 weeks in arrears.  If your tenancy agreement is like 99.9% of tenancy agreements and demands rent to be paid one month in advance the tenant will effectively be two months in arrears the day after the second missed rent payment, so you really don't have to wait till the end of month two to apply.  It's pretty simple to do, there should be a form available online on your council's website with full instructions for you of the process.  There really is no excuse for your agent not doing this for you once your previous tenants fell into arrears.

 

The more knowledge you gain the more successful you will be.  I wish you luck with your future agents and tenants.  

 

Kate

 

 

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