Thursday, 6 April 2017

Ask Andy – I am unable to contact my Warrington tenant – what can I do?



Landlord’s Question:
“Dear Andy,

I have a three bedroom buy to let property in Padgate which I currently have a repayment mortgage on and is currently let out. They are relatively new; the tenants have not been in the property for very long – for just over five months now.

The tenants have stopped paying the rent and have now stopped answering calls, texts and emails. It leads me to believe that they are avoiding my calls on purpose.
What can I do?

-Susan”

Andy’s Answer

Susan, you are not the first landlord who has asked this question. This problem happens more than you would think. When things like this happen, we naturally assume the worst – that tenants are avoiding the problem and burying their heads in the sand.

Often there is a simple explanation. It may be that the tenant has changed their phone number or updated their email address and not provided it to you. We find that when tenants do change their contact details, letting agents and landlords tend to be much further down the list than their employers and doctors, etc. We have even had cases where tenants have had embarrassing email addresses or email addresses shared with a partner which become forgotten about or ignored after a break up.

When moving a tenant into your property we would always recommend obtaining contact details, both address, email address and phone number, for their next of kin. This might seem like unnecessary information at the start of the tenancy, however this may be needed when you least expect it. It’s also good practice in case of unfortunate situations where the tenant is no longer able to act for themselves, or requires someone to speak on their behalf (death, illness, when given a prison sentence, etc.).

My first port of call would be a quick call to the next of kin to ensure nothing serious had happened to the tenant and try and obtain alternative contact details – or at least get a message passed to your tenant. Please remember not to give out information you shouldn’t. This often works as the tenant is surprised to hear you have made contact with their family.

If the above doesn’t work, then I would be arranging a property inspection and advise the tenant if they are not there to give access then you would enter the property using the spare keys. Another vital point at the start of the tenancy: ensure you have spare keys.

However, please remember the following: 
-          You cannot ‘just let yourself into the property’ without written notice
-          If the property appears to be abandoned when you do gain access, unless the tenant has returned the keys to you, you still require a possession notice from the courts as the tenancy is still running. There is no such thing as an abandonment notice in the eyes of the law.
Hopefully one of the methods above will help you get in contact with the tenant and resolve whatever issues are present. Communication is key in a tenant landlord relationship.

Email me on andy@hamletwarrington.co.uk or give me a call on 01925 235 338. Pop in for a chat – we are based on 6 Bankside, Crosfield St, WA1 1UP. There is plenty of free parking and the kettle is always on.

-Andy

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