The accidental landlord: tenants and landlords should remember their manners

Victoria Whitlock is last to know her tenant is moving out. She's tempted to teach him a lesson but the demand for rental properties and prices are falling in many areas
There I was, waiting patiently to find out whether a tenant wanted to renew his lease which expires next month, when I received an email from a letting agent asking for a reference for him. Evidently, this tenant has agreed to rent a flat from the agent and given him my details without having the decency to tell me first that he is moving out. How very rude.

I wonder how this chap — or indeed any tenant — would have felt if I’d emailed him to say I’d re-let the flat to someone else without telling him I was terminating his lease? Pretty miffed, I should think.

Also, he has completely ignored the condition in his contract that states he must give two months’ notice before he leaves — he’s planning to move out in less than five weeks and he hasn’t given me any official notice yet. I’ve half a mind to teach him some manners and make him wait a little while for that reference. I might just temporarily overlook it until I’m in a better mood.

Okay, okay, I admit it, I’m just sulking because it’s hot, it’s the school holidays AND I’ve got a wedding to organise, so what with the kids to ferry around London, meetings to attend with caterers and florists and the fact that it’s way too muggy to think straight, I really didn’t want the bother of re-letting a flat.

Unfortunately I don’t have a choice, I can’t afford not to re-let it asap (have you seen the cost of table decorations?) so I’ve been doing a bit of research to find out what the rental market is like at the moment and, as I suspected a few weeks ago, it’s not as hot as the weather.

Indeed, the letting agent Townends suggests rents have fallen in some areas of London. It said, and I quote: “The levels previously reached were simply not sustainable.” Demand is still high, it said, landlords are getting lots of viewers for every property, but tenants are holding out for the right place at the right price. The cunning little blighters.

Townends’ survey is backed up by another London agent, Benham & Reeves, which confirms that it has seen rents in some postcodes — mainly WC1, E18, E1, EW1 and N19 — fall in the last quarter. However, better news (at least for some) is that rents in the majority of postcodes are still going up.

Landlords lucky enough to have property in N4, around Finsbury Park, have seen rents rise by more than 17 per cent this year. In SW18 and SE13, they’re getting 11 per cent more than a year ago. Benham & Reeves says that the average change in the quarter from April to June was a 1.63 per cent rise, although it points out that this is based only on the rental values from the properties managed by its 10 London branches, which is a relatively small sample.

I find the best indicator of rental values is to look at some of the bigger rental websites, and a quick look at Rightmove suggests to me that rental prices for properties similar to mine are broadly similar, possibly a teeny bit lower than this time last year.

To be honest, though, I’m less concerned by the prospect of achieving slightly less rent for my flat than the thought of showing dozens of tenants around the place when they might only be window shopping. Hopefully this hot and humid weather will mean only those serious about moving will bother to come along. If so, long may it continue.

Follow our accidental landlord on Twitter at @VicWhitlock

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