Traditionally it has been landlords who vet tenants in order to check their financial credentials but increasingly the boot is on the other foot. With the recession biting and many amateur landlords renting out homes as a stop-gap solution, more tenants are demanding references on their landlord.
“Tenants are getting nervous about landlords’ ability to pay the mortgage throughout the tenancy,” says Lucy Morton of estate agent WA Ellis. “This is particularly the case with tenants who are taking out a premium lease and have to pay a lump sum in advance.”
Tenants can find themselves innocent victims when landlords default on a mortgage, forced to quit the property even though they may have paid rent and a deposit up front.
Lenders who start repossession proceedings almost always want vacant possession before selling on the property at auction. Tenants’ only redress is to make a legal claim for losses against the landlord.
Renting a home from an established company with a track record in property management and a brand to protect is one way of minimising the risk of being left without a roof over your head.
Residential Land is one such company. It has a portfolio of 1,200 homes, mainly in central London postcodes, and provides a direct service to renters. Because the company buys, refurbishes, markets and manages all the apartments it offers, tenants do not have to deal with estate agents or “absentee” landlords.
A customer charter includes an eight-hour maintenance pledge to remedy problems such as boiler breakdowns.
Properties are offered either furnished or unfurnished, plus there are flexible tenancy periods, not just industry-standard six-month assured shorthold tenancies. Tenants can move in within hours of finding a suitable property.
“Commercially it is in our interests to manage our properties efficiently to ensure we have long-term happy tenants,” says Bruce Ritchie, managing director.
Rents start at £250 a week. Many of the buildings are boutique developments with a concierge.
Draycott Place, in the heart of Chelsea, has 19 apartments priced from £400 per week. At River Lodge, a prestige scheme on the Pimlico waterfront, rents also start at £400 a week.
Loft-style flats overlooking the Grand Union Canal at Portobello Dock in west London have been launched. Rents range from £320 a week for a studio to £800 plus for a three-bedroom apartment. Call 020 7408 5155.