Gut instinct on tenants: sensible or reckless?


An unusual situation developed this week and I had to make a decision which, when it boiled down to it, was between getting extra cash in or feeling comfortable. I opted for the latter. Some may say this was a silly thing to have done, given the economic climate, but here’s why.

The potential lady tenant who came to view my soon to be empty apartment seemed very nice and fell in love with it – hardly surprising! She took in her holding fee to the letting agent who advertise all the Moregeous properties. This is all they do, we do almost all of the viewings and then self-manage. The tenant then brought her BF along to ensure he liked it and he seemed equally enamoured. Then it all went a bit awry. I emailed them the breakdown of payments: deposit amount, rent, admin fee and other necessary info. Admin fee? they emailed back, the agents didn’t say anything about that when they booked the viewing, it’s not acceptable, we don’t want to pay it. Hmmm. I can see the problem, though it’s never arisen before, the letting agent didn’t have all the information as we carry out all the negotiations and discussions with the tenant, and in this case the tenant felt they should have had it up front. I’ve now addressed this with them so it doesn’t happen again and they’re getting a list of our fixed fees, which are non-negotiable.

We don’t change separately for letting agency fees, admin fees, inventory fees, credit check charges, general maintenance, checking out fees, renewal fees or reference fees at the end of the tenancy – these can all add up to a mountain of cash for the tenant and some letting agents have been known to pile up these charges, which then have VAT added on top.

We make a one off and quite reasonable charge at the start of the tenancy which covers all of the above and anything else the tenant may need. It covers the entire period of their tenancy, with nothing else to pay, guaranteed. Of course this doesn’t include damage and cleaning etc if applicable at the end of their tenancy, but nothing more administratively is added.

Anyhoo, the BF went a bit doolally, ringing the agent and threatening to ring the Ombudsman(?!) and then having a blast at me down the phone too. OK. Someone being confused by what they are paying in case they are paying twice I can understand. Someone questioning the payment, requiring clarification, fine. Threats and angry tones? At this early stage. Ding Dong, went the alarm bells.

It’s important to get rentals filled but it’s also vital to get them filled with the right kind of tenant and this was a really bad start. Not only was I concerned that he’d gone off on one at the agent and at me, but what if he was a real live wire with my other tenants in the block? No good. Even though they wanted to move in mid-Feb, just two days after the existing tenant moves out, meaning the magical no void period, was I comfortable renting my property to this person? No.

I suggested that if he wasn’t happy then we refund the holding fee paid. Yes, it’s certainly heading that way he replied. Ok, then that’s what I’ll organise for you I said, and kissed goodbye to that perfect two day turnaround between tenants. Darnit, that’s one gorgeous flat back on the market but sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct and mine told me that tenant would be trouble, just what landlords don’t need in these stressed out times!

What would you have done?

PS I think *someone* might be in trouble with his GF this weekend, ’cause it is a gorgeous flat…..

3hrs later…. Fate has played it’s hand. The girls in the flat downstairs have begged to move up into the one above, they just want that huge roof garden! Having to shift all viewings now to their flat. Funny how things turn out.

10 thoughts on “Gut instinct on tenants: sensible or reckless?

Add yours

  1. For defo you did the right thing.
    I don’t have the luxury of turning away clients when my gut is screaming that they will be a nightmare as I don’t work for myself . From my experience my instinct is always right I only wish I had more freedom to act on it. I have a couple of ‘gut’ nightmares on the go right now driving me and my Bosses daft. All I want to say is…told you so! (Annoying I know!)
    As you pointed out they could easily have ended up costing you money but just as much costing you stress and worry and that can be a heavy price to pay in my opinion (see my recentish tweets!)… good for you and your gut!

  2. You were so right to get rid then – any tenant who can get like that BEFORE they have even moved into a property is not going to have a happy ending!

  3. As an agent myself, we also rely on gut instinct (alongside thorough referencing of course!) but we would have taken exactly the same course of action as you – to return the holding deposit and not proceed. Good luck finding a replacement for the girls 🙂

  4. And it always surprises me when tenants query paying an administration fee – they choose to rent through an agent for peace of mind – therefore they should expect to pay a fee for that service and reassurance!

  5. You made the right decision!

    I could write a book about the trials and tribulations of being a landlord ;p

    The stories I could tell 🙂

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