With the current economic climate rent arrears is the number one problem for landlords. Here are some tips to help you deal with them before they happen (always the best time to deal with a problem!).
1. Always, always reference tenants. Make no exception to this rule. Remember – con men succeed because they are persuasive. Never allow tenants to have the keys until you have checked them out.
2. If you have any doubts whatsoever about a tenants ability to pay rent, take a guarantor. Make sure you reference the guarantor also
3. Do not give tenants a long fixed term. If they prove unsatisfactory it will be difficult to get them to leave before the fixed term ends and you may be stuck with them for longer than you wish. Six months is about right for a new tenant.
4. Serve a section 21 notice early on (although not on the same day that they sign the tenancy agreement – about a week after they have moved in perhaps). If this upsets the tenants, say that you hope that you will not have to use it, but that you are serving it as a precautionary measure.
5. Get into the habit of checking rent payments so that you will be able to contact the tenant as soon as a payment is missed. It is if rent arrears are allowed to mount up that big problems generally occur. If you deal with things promptly tenants are less likely to allow arrears to develop.
If you follow these five steps your tenants will be less likely to fall into arrears and you will be in a better position to deal with it if they do. Note that if you are unfortunate enough to have teants fall into rent arrears, my rent arrears action plan can help.