March 25, 2014

How to spot a dishonest landlord

By Jill Griffiths, Head of Residential Lettings at Andrew Granger & Co 

Despite popular opinion, it is rare to have a landlord who is dishonest. But, if they are, there are some telltale warning signs. 

“Fake” landlords are usually operating without the support of an agent, as a private landlord.

There are other things to look out for too if you’re looking for a flat to rent in Leicestershire, such as demanding rent upfront. Dishonest landlords can offer an attractive rental value so a property is snapped up, only to cause problems for tenants later down the line if the property is repossessed before the end of the pre-paid period.

Of course, there are some perfectly legitimate landlords who choose to manage their properties themselves simply to save money. Tenants often search through private adverts for landlords like these to save on administration costs when renting a flat.

Prospective tenants need to consider the possibility that any landlord who is not prepared to use an agent could cause future problems, for example if they do not cover the cost of essential maintenance or repair work.

Having an agent does not guarantee reliability – but if a landlord has set out to be deceptive, they are less likely to get away with it if there is a good agent involved.

For example, we were once approached by a landlord who wanted to secure a tenant quickly, dismissing approvals and important gas checks and being very wary with handing over his contact details. This concerned us immediately, so we informed the prospective tenant that we were not happy to act as a managing agent – which raised alarm bells for the tenant too. The deal did not go through and the tenant avoided an untrustworthy agreement.

At Andrew Granger & Co, we check that landlords actually own the property they are letting, and that they are not letting because they are coming close to having the property repossessed. Working with landlords is the beginning of a partnership that has responsibility on both sides – it should never be a decision made lightly.