According to the latest research by AA Home Membership, 22% of landlords have had disputes with their tenants. The figure may be viewed as reassuringly low, but there is obvious room for improvement. So, what is the cause of these clashes?
The survey revealed that the most common source of disagreements was damage to properties, with more than half of the cases involving some sort of mistreatment by tenants, but this was far from the only reason for disputes.
Rent arrears also scored highly, with 44% of the landlords saying they had been involved in a case of unpaid rent. The next most common cause of dispute is not surprising, with 42% of those landlords affected revealing that tenants had failed to clean the property to a reasonable standard when they left. What is surprising is the level of mess some reported being left in their properties.
Helen Brooker, Head of AA Home Membership, said: ‘Landlords put a lot of trust in tenants. Even if they do background checks, there’s still an element of the unknown when they let someone they barely know live in their property.’
It wasn’t just the usual dusty carpets or dirty windows that were cited in this research; as Brooker says, some of the landlords’ discoveries were ‘quite remarkable’. Underwear left in the fridge, piles of dirty toilet paper, faeces on radiators and even decaying dead pets behind wardrobes!
Other common disputes were due to poor garden maintenance (28%), because of neighbour complaints (21%) and from tenants keeping pets (14%).
One really encouraging outcome of the research was seeing that landlords recognise the penalty for a poor relationship with tenants, with almost half of those surveyed classing good communication as ‘extremely important’ in making sure that the good tenants stay for longer leases.
Many of the landlords responded that they were willing to redecorate, lay new carpet or flooring or even update the bathroom in order to keep a long-term tenant.
One of the most positive results of good tenant-landlord communications is that landlords are able to check on their property regularly without tenants feeling like their privacy is being invaded. As well as ensuring nothing is going wrong, landlords are then able to make repairs and updates before niggles become expensive problems.