The key to a good tenancy is finding the right tenant at the start

Landlord Expert
By Landlord Expert July 10, 2012 12:16

Buy-to-let landlords are being urged to boost their vetting procedures after figures showed the number of tenants in severe arrears increased by almost a quarter in a year.

The country’s plunge back into recession has meant frozen or lower wages and high unemployment.Combined with rising rents and a jump in the cost of living, the number of tenants in serious arrears — more than two months behind on rent — hit 100,400 in the three months to June. According to the Tenant Arrears Tracker study this is the highest number since figures started in 2008. There’s been an 8% rise of tenants in serious arrears in the last three months compared with between January and March this year, triggering a 6% rise in the number of landlords taking non-payers to court to evict them over the past three months. Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, advised: “The best thing you can do is try and avoid this situation occurring in the first place — vet your tenants carefully and check references to ensure they haven’t missed rent payments in the past.

“However, if tenants do fall behind with the rent, make sure you tackle the issue as soon as they miss their first payment, rather than letting arrears mount up and getting to a stage where eviction is the only option.”

Bank computer glitches like the hangover of that by NatWest might be a current issue. “These can be resolved fairly easily but if they have lost their job and are in financial difficulty, you may need to give them longer to pay or reduce their rent for a period of time,” Harris adds.

“You might decide to do this if they are a decent tenant and you would like them to stay, but if it is agreed, get it in writing.”

If that isn’t an option, note it’s a criminal offence to harass tenants and to attempt to evict them independently. “Take legal advice,” says Harris. “Court proceedings are a hassle and expense but it is far better to get the situation sorted, the tenant evicted and a paying tenant in their place than let the situation drag on for months on end.”

Landlord Expert
By Landlord Expert July 10, 2012 12:16

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