Landlords urged to prepare for impact of cuts

For landlords the ramifications are potentially serious should a tenant lose their job. Rising unemployment levels could lead to an increase in arrears and void payments as tenants are unable to afford the rent. This puts increasing pressure on landlords to sustain their own mortgage commitments.

But Graham Kinnear, Director says that by taking precautionary measures landlords can minimise the risk of a tenant defaulting.

He says: “Landlords need to make sure they reference tenants at the start of the tenancy agreement to establish whether the prospective tenant can afford the rental payments. They should also ask for guarantors, namely family and friends, to cover the cost of missed rent should the tenant default on payment.

“Nearly all references include an employment reference nowadays, providing landlords with a great indication of a tenant’s employment history and current situation. However, when gaining a reference check landlords need to pay particular attention to the type of work. Only a few years ago the ideal tenant would be one working in the financial industry, but that is not the case anymore.”

But even the most in-depth reference checks cannot stop a tenant becoming unemployed.

Kinnear adds: “With many more cuts expected in both the public and private sectors, many tenants may find themselves in financial difficulty over the coming months. This level of uncertainty is worrying for landlords and may encourage more to renew their interest in rent guarantee and legal expense insurance.”

Stephen Parry, Commercial Director believes landlords at particular risk are those on a moderate income whose tenants receive some assistance from the state.

He says: “Not only could these people lose their jobs but they may also see some of their state assistance withdrawn as part of the impending changes to the welfare system. Social landlords need to prepare for the changes to housing benefit and assess how it will impact their income and business.”

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