David Lawrenson, a landlord and property advisor, is best known for his bestselling book for Landlords Successful Property Letting: How to Make Money in Buy-to-Let. However, he has just published a book for tenants.
The book, the Tenants’ Guide to Successful Renting is excellent and recommended for all tenants. It may seem odd to have a book for tenants written by a landlord but actually, it is a really good idea.
No-one knows better than a ‘hands on’ landlord, the problems that can occur. If you can understand things from the point of view of your landlord as well as yourself – this will help you work together.
A property is an important and expensive investment so obviously the landlord will want a return on this – but the good landlords are also interested in happy tenants. Because happy tenants look after their property and stay longer. All landlords hate ‘voids’.
For example, see the extract below where David explains the ideal behaviour he looks for in prospective tenants – and rarely gets. By following his advice, you will know how to make a good impression on landlords and letting agents – making it more likely that you will be chosen to be the tenant.
You have to appreciate that a good landlord or letting agent is just not going to give the keys to the first person who calls them, sees the home and hands over a load of fifty quid notes. (Indeed, if you come across a landlord or agent who is prepared to do this, you need to be very wary indeed – for the reasons why, please see the box about Fake Letting Agents and Landlords at the end of the chapter).
How do you get them really interested in you?
Well, you need to be able to show them that if you see the property, and if you like it, you can show them right away enough information about you, so that they know that you are going to be able to pay the rent comfortably, stay for the right period of time and be a trouble free tenant.
So, let’s think about what a decent landlord and letting agent will want to see from you in terms of documentation when you meet them and what should be your opening contact.
Here is the kind of thing I suggest you have ready to send as an email, as a text or to use in a conversation.
“I am enquiring about your property in X road at £x per month. I am looking for a property for me and my partner.
Here is a little bit about us.
I am a full time teacher working in St Jude’s High School in West Street earning £24,000 per annum and my partner is a self-employed plumber earning £20,000 in the last year. We are aged 28 and 30 respectively.
We were previously renting for a year in Endasby at £900 per month but the previous owner is now selling the property. We have an excellent reference from this landlord and I have a reference from my previous landlady too.
We can both show our last 3 months bank statements to prove our current address, rental income being paid and our income coming in, at any such time as you would like to see these.
I also have a reference from my employer stating my current income and job position. However, I am leaving that job for a new one in September, and I can also show you my contract of employment for the new job.
We can both give you details of our full names and dates of birth and our addresses over the last three years with postcodes, should you wish to process a quick credit check. However, I also have my own copy of my most recent credit report from Experian.
If you wish, we can also bring along our passports as proof of ID to any viewing.
We have read the advert carefully and we know this looks like exactly the kind of property we want. We are available to see the property on Thursday or Friday next week.”
Any sensible agent or landlord who were to receive an enquiry like this would almost certainly reach straight for the diary and be booking an appointment, because he can see right away that the rent is affordable for you, that the references are already there and simply need to be validated and that the credit score is unlikely to be a problem either.
The trouble is that 99% of the time, this does not happen …
David has a lot of practical guidance for tenants seeking accommodation and this book will undoubtedly help you if you are looking for somewhere to rent.
However, it is also great at explaining how properties should be managed, your legal rights as tenants, and the procedure at the end of the tenancy.
You may also find it an interesting read if you are a landlord or a letting agent!
Note that I will be interviewing David in one of my Landlord Law Live webinars on Friday 24 June – the registration page is here.