Old style conflicts between tenants in rented properties and their private sector landlords are largely the stuff of fading legend these days – according to the country’s largest property franchise Belvoir.
“In the real world, no-one achieves anything that old fashioned way,” says Amjed Rasul, who owns the Belvoir office on Queensgate in Inverness.
“The modern approach is more about tenants and landlords cultivating partnerships. Both have interests to protect and they can both achieve that better by working together. If they can’t, then something is wrong – and mis-matches do happen – but good relationships are more the order of today.
“The truth is that a rented property may be part of a landlord’s livelihood but it’s also home to the tenant and the ideal situation is for them to work around each other.”
Past conflicts in rented properties have swung from the serious to the comic.
According to official statistics, two years ago, the numbers of housing tenants growing commercial crops of cannabis was sufficiently large to lead the national Crimestoppers charity trust to publish an eight-page leaflet highlighting the issue.
While another recorded case outlined how a tenant caused irreparable damage to a washing machine at his furnished flat because he put in a house brick to “stonewash” his denim jeans.
“Whether it’s a laughing matter or an indictable criminal offence, the relationship between a tenant and a landlord is at the heart of today’s private rented sector,” says Dorian Gonsalves, managing director of Belvoir.
“Closer relationships obviously work better for both parties and, thankfully, that’s the way things are moving. The 170 branches throughout our UK network are reporting fewer and fewer cases of serious conflict.
“The current housing crisis has turned the private rented sector into a major home provider with nearly two million landlords renting to some 10million tenants and for them, working together means making it work.”
A professional lettings and management agency, such as Belvoir, will always look after the interests of both parties. Methods of creating perfect harmony include:
Agreeing on periodic visits so the landlord can see how a property is being looked after. That also gives a chance to see if there are any repair jobs or maintenance issues that need attention. And it gives tenants an opportunity to discuss anything that is bothering them.
Tenants letting landlords, or their agents, know if they are planning a holiday and the property is going to be empty. Occasional visits can be made to ensure the property and the tenant’s possessions are safe.
By mutual agreement neighbours can have the agent’s or landlord’s phone number so they can get in touch if anything seems wrong, for example a burglary, fire, flooding, intruders or unusual behaviour.
Along with a tenancy agreement Belvoir provides new occupiers and landlords with an inventory to record the state of decoration, furnishings and fittings.
“An honest, upfront, practice like this creates a precise record of contents and condition that is beyond dispute,” says Amjed Rasul. “And that can save a lot of arguments later – especially over returning deposits.”
Important communications should be done by e-mail or letter – which creates a paper trail of any problem that arises. This gives both tenant and landlord a firm record instead of trying to rely on half-remembered conversations.