The vast majority of private landlords are honest and hard-working. They provide a well appointed and clean property at a reasonable rent and will attend promptly to any issues their tenant may have. Unfortunately, as in any profession or industry, there are some bad apples.
They don't follow the rules and think laws don't apply to them. They don't look after their properties and certainly not their tenants. These are the dodgy landlords you'll see in newspaper stories or on TV. But for all those publicly exposed there are others still letting properties. So, how do you spot them?
Obviously, if you've already moved into your new home it's too late. So the best time to spot a dodgy landlord is at the viewing before the tenancy begins. If you're a tenant looking for a new rental, here are some tips for renters on how to avoid dodgy landlords.
No surprise that the first thing to look at is the property itself. Reputable landlords will clean between tenants, decorating when necessary and will make sure their property is in first-class condition. A dodgy landlord won't be so house proud. A poorly kept, shabby and unclean property is a sign the landlord doesn't care. And if they don't care about their own property how likely is it they'll care about you?
Dodgy landlords and rogue letting agents will try to charge extra fees for just about anything. When you're really desperate for a place to rent it's easy to just shrug your shoulders and accept it as normal. It isn't. Don't pay unreasonable fees. There’s been a lot of publicity in recent years about the fees charged by unscrupulous landlords and agents. They are often so high they can put renters in financial difficulties.
However, the government has recognised the problems caused by unreasonable fees. The tenant fee ban will come into force in June 2019. This piece of legislation will outlaw many of the fees. It’s estimated the average tenant could save as much as £272.
Charging fees is one way to spot a dodgy landlord or agent. This is why online letting agents like MakeUrMove have already scrapped fees for tenants.
Every private landlord must lodge their tenant's deposit with a deposit protection scheme. Ask the landlord which scheme they use. If the answer is vague or worse the landlord doesn't know what a deposit protection scheme is alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear.
A reputable landlord will be able to tell you which scheme they use and how the scheme works. The deposit protection scheme is there to keep your money safe. If a landlord doesn't use it they are breaking the law and proving themselves to be very untrustworthy.
If the landlord personally conducts the viewing you'll be able to gain an impression of their personality and attitude. No one expects to be best friends with their landlord but equally, you need to feel you can trust the person whose home you'll be living in. And paying your monthly rent too.
Don't be afraid to rely on your gut instinct. If you feel there is something 'off' about the landlord it's best to walk away.
Every rental property must have an energy performance certificate and a gas safety certificate (unless it's all-electric of course). Ask to see these certificates. If the landlord can't produce them or says they're not important then think very seriously about leaving the viewing immediately. A property without a gas safety certificate could be very dangerous. A landlord who doesn't have such a certificate is not only breaking the law but is putting a tenant's life at risk.
If you suspect a landlord of suspect behaviour you can seek legal help by reporting them to your local council. They will have a complaints procedure to follow and have the power to take action against dodgy landlords.
All councils are now pushing for transparency in renting and many now licence landlords and keep a register of suspicious landlords. If you have doubts about a landlord prior to renting a property ask your council if they maintain a register.
Find your ideal property faster with MakeUrMove, the online letting platform bringing landlords and tenants together.