In this article:
- You have to deal with your landlord sooner or later.
- Your landlord is the entity at the other side of the tenancy agreement.
- Be sure to meet your landlord before you agree on renting the property.
- Make sure you know who your landlord is and whether you can establish a good relationship with them.
- Try to measure how your landlord presents themselves and if they are trying to deceive you.
- On the viewing ask about important documents like the gas safety check, the EPC and the deposit protection.
- Check if your landlord is accredited by one of the major landlord associations in the UK.
- Research your rental property and landlord for comments and reviews on the Internet.
Why is the landlord important
The tenancy agreement is signed between you and your landlord. Whether you rent through a letting agent, it is likely you will have to deal with him or her at some point. And you will have to deal with the landlord any time there is a formal dispute; when you want to claim your deposit and end the tenancy. It makes sense to choose the right person to enter a legally binding agreement with.
You have to be able to establish basic communication with the landlord and agree on the common aspects of the tenancy such as the deposit, general rules of the house, building duties, bills, etc.
Without an effective way to deal with your landlord directly, you will struggle next time an urgent repair comes calling and you need to solve the problem fast.
A good landlord is as important as the right property; this relationship will have a huge impact on your overall happiness during the rental. This is slightly less significant if the property is managed by a letting agent and why TTV suggests you only use vetted letting agents.
Features of the good landlord
A good landlord is responsible -for their legal duties, for the property(ies) they own, for the tenants they provide accommodation to and for the safety of anyone who might be affected.
A responsible landlord will keep track of the tenancy and follow the guidelines set out by the legal system on how to act and when.
A responsible landlord will take initiative for the repairs and maintenance of the property and help educate the tenant about how take care of their responsibilities.
A good landlord is considerate. They will allow their tenants to live peacefully and unbothered unless necessary. A considerate landlord will understand that as tenants, you have a right to peace enjoyment of the property and can choose who and when enters your home. A considerate landlord will acknowledge that you will want to make their property your home and allow you to introduce some modifications to personalise and make it yours.
A good landlord is just and fair – by respecting your rights as a tenant. A fair landlord will not bend the rules and trump your rights for the sake of their own financial well being. They will no trick you into hidden charges, deduct your deposit unfairly or make you do repairs to damage you have not caused.
A just landlord will respect the terms of the lease and act by the law at any moment.
Many of these characteristics are not visible at first sight, and you have only so many chances to measure your landlord’s personality before you sign the lease. However, you can make a better guess preparing well and looking at the signs that give away who the person you’re talking to really is.
If you organize a viewing with a letting agent, it is wise to arrange a second viewing with the landlord if possible. If the landlord manages the property directly, do not sign the tenancy agreement until you have met her or him. The most effective way to vet a potential landlord is to meet them. Put yourself in the position where you feel confident the landlord is someone who looks after their tenants as well as their property.
Meeting a prospective landlord
- Be switched on and organised. Take the time to consider how you present yourself. You want to give the impression that you are an educated tenant aware of your rights, not someone to be exploited.
- Ask direct questions, look your landlord in the eye, be pleasant, and calm. Ask them about the gas safety certificate, the deposit, the EPC and other important documents. Take notes of the information or at least pretend you’re doing it.
- Take your time to view the property and its owner/manager/s very seriously. It is likely that you will pay close to 40% of your salary for six to twelve months to this person and their investment property. Now is not the time to rush.
- Take notice of the landlord’s car, clothes and listen to how they speak.
- Expect the landlord to listen carefully and answer your questions directly and thoroughly. If the landlord is not forthcoming with information then you may have reason to be suspicious about how dutiful she or he is.
- Expect a well organised, considerate and professional landlord. If the landlord is messy or late then she or he is likely to be just as sloppy about landlord duties.
- If repairs are promised during the viewing, do not sign anything until you get them in writing and on the tenancy agreement.
- Remember, you are not obliged to take on the property just because you are viewing it. You always have the right to refuse.
How to research your landlord online
There are number of ways to find information about your landlord online. If you’ve had a meeting with the person and like the property, but want to make sure it’s the right landlord for you, you’re going to need more information.
Start by finding if your landlord is accredited in one of the major landlord associations in the UK:
- National Landlord Association – NLA
- Residential Landlord Association – RLA
- Housing Ombudsman Service – HOS
These professional organizations provide a sense of security, because all their members are required to go through education course. These courses make sure the landlord is aware and understands their rights and responsibilities and know the laws and regulations that deal with relationships between landlords and tenants.
A member of one of these associations has to abide by a certain code of conducts, under which they have to act fairly and reasonably towards their tenants. Landlords who are members of these organizations or claim to be, must show a membership card, or provide you with a code, which you can check on the according website.
Search your property with Ask Tenants.
Ask Tenants is to tenants what Tripadvisor is to travellers and tourists. Current and past tenants can submit information about the property they have lived in, their condition, the landlord and other useful information which you can only get from an experienced tenant.
If your soon-to-be property is in the database, you might be able to find the intricate details your landlord is trying to hide, like past and ongoing problems with the plumbing or electricity, or it might be leaking through the roof. These defects may not show through your initial viewing and will be troublesome to fix later on.
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our All advice category.
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