Squatters?

17 Dec

With recent reports of Squatters occupying more and more “high profile” properties, Squatters are becoming more of a concern to our landlords.

Squatters are becoming an increasing problem

High profile victims of squatters are film director Guy Ritchie, businessman John Hamilton-Brown and even David Blunkett.

In fact just recently, an £11 million mansion owned by Saif Gaddafi, Colonel Gaddafi’s son, was entered and occupied by serial squatters calling themselves ‘Topple the Tyrants’.

What is more worrying is the fact that under the Freedom of Information Act, some Squatters are able to get hold of details of vacant properties.

Here at Landlord Support Services, we have seen an increase in the amount of Squatters cases that we deal with.

As the Squatting trend increases, Landlords need to be more vigilant and prevent entry in the first place. Properties need to be made secure and void periods need to be kept to a minimum. Security doors and windows should always be installed and if any works are being undertaken at the property that it is kept secured overnight.

Always bear in mind that if Squatters force entry to the property then this becomes a criminal matter and the police can get involved straight away.

There have been recent articles about Squatting becoming a criminal offence http://www.economicvoice.com/squatting-to-become-a-criminal-offence/50017424#ixzz1JOc21Xgw but for now it looks like it is staying a civil matter.

If there was no forced entry then the Landlord will need to issue possession proceedings and obtain an eviction date.

How to Avoid Problem Tenants

17 Dec

Problem tenants will always be out there, but there are certain steps that you as a landlord can take to avoid being caught out.

Credit Checks

Always carry out a credit check on prospective tenants, this way you can make sure that the tenant will be able to pay the rent and doesn’t have any CCJ’s against their names or bad credit scores.

Photographic ID

We always recommend obtaining a driving licence or passport photo identification, this is the best way to ensure your prospective tenant really is who they say they are.

Bank Information

If possible aim to obtain the last three months bank statements. This will show the prospective tenants true financial status and you will be able to see if the tenant can in fact afford the rent.

Pay slips

If the tenant works, always aim to obtain past pay slips as above this will give you the fuller picture and shows exactly what income the tenant has.

References

Employers references and past landlord references will also help you as a landlord get a different perspective on the tenant. There is nothing wrong with asking for these.

Guarantors

We always recommend having guarantors regardless of whether the tenant is in full employment or not.

As a guarantor, they should be based in the UK and ideally be a homeowner. This way if the tenant fails to make rental payments or leaves damages at the property, without leaving a forwarding address for them you will still have some re-course.

Inventories

Always use a neutral third party to conduct both check in and check out. There are various companies that can provide a full inventory at reasonable prices, with some even providing video evidence as part of the package.

Having an inventory is key to making a claim on the deposit and avoiding any disputes. The National Landlord Association also provides an inventory service.

It is always worth bearing in mind that all the above information will also help you if the tenant leaves the property owing rent arrears. If you have bank details, work information or a guarantor this makes it so much easier to pursue the tenant for monies owing.

But remember… Prevention is better than cure!