A great landlord is worth their weight in gold. As any tenant who has gone through tough times with a landlord will know, finding a good one can make life a lot easier. According to the National Landlords Association, 96% of landlords have good relationships with their tenants. However, all it takes is that one bad apple and life can become very difficult for all involved. So, how do find the best landlords?
Choose a landlord with a professional accreditation
Organisations like the National Landlords Association offer membership to landlords as an indicator of credibility. To retain membership landlords must adhere to a code of practice and may have to take certain steps, such as obtaining insurance. There is usually a complaints process that tenants can follow if issues do arise with a landlord and disputes can be mediated via the accredited association.
Meet your landlord before you move in
There’s probably no better way to find out whether someone is going to be a good landlord, or not, than by meeting them face-to-face. Although many landlords prefer to enter into a new tenancy agreement via an agent, if you are able to get in the same room together you’ll be able to establish some common ground. You’ll also get a good sense of what they will be like to deal with.
Ask the landlord key questions
A good landlord should be fully aware of their responsibilities when it comes to what they need to provide with the property. This includes:
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Providing an EPC is a requirement for every rented property.
Evidence of an annual gas safety check. This should be carried out by a Gas Safe Engineer every 12 months.
Evidence of regular electrical system checks. There is no timeframe on when electrical checks should be carried out but landlords are required to provide a safe property for tenants.
Evidence that your deposit has been properly protected. Landlords must protect deposits with a government authorised scheme and tell you when it has been done.
A tenancy agreement. A good landlord will use a Shorthold Assured Tenancy agreement.
If a landlord is suggesting skipping any of the above then they are likely to be problematic, as they are not taking their responsibilities seriously. There can be significant sanctions for landlords who don’t protect deposits or carry out the annual gas safety check. A landlord who is willing to risk those sanctions by not doing the basics isn’t going to be very dependable or easy to deal with.
Use technology to help
It’s simple to find properties to rent online but innovative companies have taken this to the next level by developing technology to match up landlords and tenants, as well as tenants and properties. Ideal Flatmate, for example, was developed to help match tenants to other tenants who were looking for a flat share. It has now also extended to offer landlords a way to advertise and also to pair up with tenants using the Ideal Flatmate matching technology. If you’re looking to trust technology to find you a great landlord who will be the right match then this kind of digital approach could be very effective.
Look for landlord reviews online
Increasingly, there is likely to be much more information about a potential landlord available online. That’s particularly so if you’re renting from a landlord company that has multiple sites across a city or around the country. A quick Google search will be able to identify any serious issues that other tenants have had with a landlord. It could also reveal prosecutions or problems such as illegal eviction, which are a big red flag if you’re looking to avoid problematic landlords. Sites such as Marks Out of Tenancy and Rental Raters also display real reviews from actual tenants who have rented from a landlord previously.
Make sure you carry out an inventory
A check-in inventory is a good idea when moving into a property. This provides the opportunity to identify any pre-existing issues, such as damage or damp. When combined with a check-out inventory, completed when the tenancy comes to an end, the check-in inventory will show what, if any, issues a tenant should be paying for from a deposit. Any landlord who does not want to do an inventory may be attempting to disguise pre-existing issues that they intend to later blame (and charge) a new tenant for.
There are ways to establish whether the landlord of a property that you’re interested in is likely to provide a good experience. From researching what other tenants think to making sure that the landlord is committed to their legal obligations, it’s not that difficult to obtain peace of mind.
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read more about Amanda Gillam