How to find a good landlord
The number of landlords deciding to self-manage their properties are on the rise, because management costs for landlords are really expensive. So, the chances of you having to deal with a landlord directly are pretty high. Most people have probably only dealt with lettings agents before, so how do you know what a good landlord even looks like? We’re here to demystify it for you and give you a few top tips on how to find a good landlord, fingers crossed! Let’s get into it.
They're welcoming and accommodating
First impressions count and shouldn’t be ignored. Okay, so you won’t be living with this person but you will be having to contact them to ask for anything or if things go wrong. If they come across as friendly and accommodating to your needs, chances are they will be in the future of your tenancy.
They’re well presented
As should you be. Now, looks aren’t everything but a viewing is like a job interview. If a landlord doesn’t look like they can take care of themselves, they’re not likely to take care of much else.
They live close by, or have a fall-back option
If your landlord lives close then you know they can get to you in the event of an emergency or to carry out repairs. If not, it’s worth asking them what they’re process is in an emergency. You don’t want to have to be waiting around from someone to travel from the other end of the country.
Everyone is late sometimes and it often can’t be avoided. However, if they can’t give you a good reason, don’t communicate that they’re running late or are unapologetic, it comes across like their time is more valuable than yours, and trust us, it isn’t. Watch out for repeat offenders.
You don’t want to be stuck with an unreliable landlord.
They’re quick to respond
When we say quick, we’re talking within 24-48 hours for a reply. A good landlord should be contactable and responsive. If leading up to renting a property, there is an uncomfortable lack of communication, don’t let it go unnoticed and listen to your gut.
The last thing you want in the event of an emergency is a landlord that simply doesn’t respond or communicate effectively. You want an active landlord who is eager to address issues quickly.
They are legally compliant
So, this one isn’t as easy to suss out before signing a tenancy agreement with them but there are a couple of things you can look out for such as;
- An EPC: It’s a legal requirement for a landlord to show you a valid Energy Performance Certificate before you sign a tenancy agreement. This is usually done at a viewing.
- Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Again, it’s a legal requirement for landlords to provide a smoke alarm on every storey of a rental property and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room there is a solid fuel burning combustion appliance (I.e., a wood burning stove). These are things you can easily look out for during a viewing.
- Gas Safety: Landlords are legally required to carry out annual gas safety checks by a registered ‘Gas Safe’ engineer. They have to provide you with a copy of the certificate once you become a tenant but you should request to see a copy before you sign anything.
They clearly take repairs and maintenance seriously
The landlord is responsible for;
- keeping the structure and exterior of the property in good repair, including drains, gutters and external pipes
- keeping installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation in good repair and proper working order
- keeping installations for space heating and water heating in good repair and proper working order
During the viewing, check that everything is in safe working order. If something seems to be in disrepair, bring it up with the landlord and ask when it will be fixed. Avoid signing into a tenancy agreement until the issues are resolved.
They provide a clean and tidy property
A good landlord should be presenting their property as well as they can to prospective renters. There are of course some exceptions such as; the current tenants are messy or are moving out so there are boxes everywhere or if the property is going through renovations or repairs.
Otherwise, the property should generally be well presented, clean and tidy.
They do their checks
Every landlord should want to secure tenants who are secure, reliable, can afford the rent and will keep the place presentable.
So, if the landlord you’re talking to doesn’t seem too fussed about credit checks or referencing, that should raise a big red flag. You could be looking at a scam. Be very wary in this scenario.
Any good landlord will be taking care of their own interests as well as yours.
They’re willing to be referenced themselves
You are well within your rights to do your own checks on the person you’ll be renting from. Be that getting references from current or previous tenants, checking online reviews, asking to see ID to validate they are who they say they are and even checking the land registry to ensure they do actually own the property they’re letting.
Good landlords will not have an issue with a tenant doing reasonable checks on them. It’s the one’s that resist who could have something to hide.
They have a tenancy agreement ready
A good landlord should be using a written tenancy agreement and have it ready. Ask to see a copy of that agreement to take home and read so you know what you’re getting into.
It should be written in plain English, state your responsibilities as a tenant, state their responsibilities as a landlord and state what fees you’re responsible for such as council tax and utility bills.
They can easily explain any fees to you
The tenancy agreement should cover this but the landlord should still easily be able to explain what fees you’re responsible for such as the rent and what deposit is required. They should not be trying to enforce any unreasonable or unfair fees on you.
It is worth noting at this point that as of 2019 it’s illegal for landlords in England to charge tenants prohibited letting fees which include;
- Viewing fees
- Tenancy set-up fees
- Inventory fees
- Check-out fees
- Professional end of tenancy cleaning
- Credit check or referencing fees
It is the landlord’s responsibility to cover these costs. Not yours.
They will do an inventory
It’s in the best interest of any good landlord to perform a thorough inventory of the property to protect both you and themselves. The inventory allows the you and the landlord to fairly assess any damage at the end of your tenancy. You can read more about inventories here.
You need to protect yourself when it comes to deciding on a property. Listen to your gut. Don’t overlook any red flags or warning signs as they will most likely come back to bite you. If it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. Have you had a bad landlord before? Maybe your previous landlords have been amazing? Either way, we want to hear it all. Review your landlord today and become a part of the rental revolution, we’re all about giving tenants a voice and we can’t wait to hear yours.