Don’t let your tenants rob you of a sale

With property prices starting to head in the right direction again, and demand on the increase too, many homeowners who have been letting their properties out of necessity are now contemplating selling.

However, rental homes can be more difficult to sell than owner-occupied properties, even in boom market, and landlords need to take especial care now that their tenants don’t scupper a potential sale, says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group.

“Tenants who don’t want to move can prove especially difficult, and their ‘tactics’ can range from the relatively harmless, like never finding a good time for an agent to show the property to prospective buyers, to the downright destructive, such as deliberate vandalism to ruin the appearance and appeal of the property.

“And then there are the sneaky tenants who, hoping to buy the property themselves at a rock-bottom price, will determinedly shadow any prospective buyers around the house and point out a string of faults, real or imaginary, in order to scare them off.”

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, he says that landlords who have not kept up regular inspections of their properties could also be in for some nasty shocks, and find that quite a lot of expensive repair work is necessary before these homes can be marketed.

“And even if the tenants are co-operative and the property is sound, the way it is currently being used may switch buyers right off. If dogs and cats are kept in the house, for example, it may smell so off putting that potential buyers won’t venture past the hallway.

“Alternatively, tenants may not be particularly house proud, and there’s nothing to spoil a first impression like a heap of dirty dishes in the sink, or a slew of unmade beds and a messy bathroom.”

Everitt says the best advice for the landlord who hopes to sell in the future is obviously to select tenants very carefully at the outset and to make sure that the property is well-maintained and kept bright and clean.

“Failing that, however, the landlord’s best course is often to give the tenant notice as soon as possible after the decision has been made to sell, then clean and prepare the empty property for sale and offer the buyer early occupation.”

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