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Landlords – prepare for abandoned properties

Landlords – prepare for abandoned properties

Category: Buy To Let

Updated: 23/05/2016
First Published: 23/05/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Being a landlord can be a lucrative pastime when it's done well, but many would-be property moguls fail to consider the downsides to such a career. One of the most worrying features of landlordship can be void periods, but perhaps more worrying still – and an aspect that many people fail to consider – is when properties are abandoned.

It's more common than you may think, too, with research from the National Landlords Association (NLA) finding that 36% of landlords have had property abandoned by tenants in the past, which can be a costly issue – particularly as it often occurs when outstanding rent is owed.

However, that isn't the only significant downside. The NLA explains that, because the tenancy hasn't yet ended, the tenant still has a legal right to return and take up residence at any time, and it's a criminal offence for landlords to do anything to prevent the continuation of the tenancy. This means that the only option is for the landlord to go through the legal process for regaining possession of an abandoned property, which in itself can be costly and can take months to arrange.

It can be an even bigger problem in particular parts of the country, too, with 58% of landlords in the North East having experienced such an issue, well above the national average of 36%, while 51% of landlords in the North have also experienced the issue. At the other end of the scale, 31% of landlords in the South West said they've had a property abandoned before, the lowest proportion across the UK, while 33% of London landlords have had to deal with the problem.

Happily, legislation (in the form of the Housing and Planning Act) is currently being put through which contains measures to tackle this problem, and as NLA's Richard Lambert says, it can't come too soon:

"The process of recovering an abandoned property is too long, frustrating, and costly for landlords at the moment. Many people will be shocked by just how common this problem is, and landlords will be relieved to know that the Housing and Planning Act will create a new process to deal with the issue, giving them far greater security and peace of mind when recovering properties they believe to have been abandoned".

The fact that this issue is being tackled will no doubt come as welcome news to those in the industry, but the research highlights that there's far more to think about when becoming a landlord than the basics. While things like landlord insurance, maintenance costs, legal requirements and buy-to-let mortgages will of course be vital, it's important to factor in more unexpected outlays, too, because sometimes, even the most stringent tenant checks can't prepare you for everything.

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