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And You Thought You Had The Tenant From Hell

Mar 26, 2008
Buy to let property is often seen as a good investment but there are many pitfalls to watch out for along the way. Not least is the one where tenants mis-treat your property.

One such landlord had this exact problem with his buy to let property. When attending to maintenance on the property he found it to be overgrown with cannabis plant putting it on a par with the most hardened drug dens.

The lounge and two of the three bedrooms were packed to the rafters with cannabis plants that had a street value of 100,000 pounds and vast quantities of fertiliser were found in the rest of the property. Not the sort of thing you usually expect when you rent out your buy to let property.

Each room had a total of fifty new power sockets to accommodate the ultra violet lights. The electric bill that was estimated at 100 pounds per day but the 'gardener' had bypassed the meter, drawing his power straight from the mains.

All property from the house had been crammed into a garage to make this a pure cannabis factory, with the plants filling six police vans when they were confiscated. The house was being let to a Chinese couple who, on viewing, described it as perfect for their needs.

This type of report is one that would make any investor of buy to let property vary wary about who they take on as tenants but you can never be too sure. A middle aged single working woman is one landlords dream but wait until her other side comes through and she's changed your living room into a dominatrix parlour, bringing about ever visiting customers and complaints from the neighbours.

There's also every landlords nightmare that, despite laying down official boundaries on paper, you still end up with the DIY enthusiast who hasn't a clue what he's doing. You rent out your buy to let property to him and within weeks he's knocking down walls, fitting wonky kitchens and installing bathroom suites that came off the back of his mates lorry. All this will cost time and money to put right.

You then have the nuclear family. Mum, dad and 2.4 kids all neatly turned out and masquerading as ideal tenants. Once in your property you will discover that six year old Johnny is a pyromaniac in training and little Monica has attention deficit disorder which leads her to leave taps on, causing flooding on numerous occasions (at least this puts out her brother's fires) and swings from the light fittings when she's bored, which is most days.

There's the group of students that, against your better judgement, you allow to rent your property to. After six months of regular payments and inspections that reveal nothing more hideous than dirty underwear left on the floor, you begin to relax. That is, until summer comes and they throw the mother of all parties. Not a door left on its hinges, not a carpet without a cigarette burn and not a neighbour that hasn't got up in arms about the 4am noise.

Of course, there are laws to protect tenants and landlords against problems and difficult tenants can be evicted. But this doesn't get you out of the problem that horrendous debt run up against this address will not have a knock on effect to the house owner. And it doesn't pay for the untold damage that some tenants leave you with.

You can take every precaution under the sun but at the end of the day, renting your buy to let property out is a hit and miss affair and all you can do is protect yourself as well as you possibly can.
About the Author
Expert buyer Catherine Harvey looks at the pitfalls of buy to let property landlords.
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