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The dangers of renting through social media

Tuesday 05 February 2019

We catch up with ARLA Propertymark representative for Kent, David Votta, who gives his perspective about the dangers of renting property through social media.

Social media has its uses, some good, some bad. However, when it comes to something as highly legislated and serious as finding your next tenant or landlord, then it really needs handing over to a professional. There are a number of reasons landlords would rent via social media such as to escape having to pay agent fees, a previous negative experience with an agent or they want to sneak under the radar and try to let privately to get an income without declaring or repairing. The same goes for a tenant – it may be due to poor credit or bad previous landlord references, or wanting something they can’t necessarily afford but think they can. Tenants also may have had bad experiences with agents or just don’t want to pay fees.

"If I had a pound for every tenant or landlord that rented via social media and had walked through my doors asking for free advice because they had a landlord that wasn’t aware fully of their statutory obligations or a tenant that had defaulted/breached their tenancy then I would probably be kicking back in the Caribbean sipping cocktails right now.

It's in the public domain

"It’s getting worse, especially with legislative changes that are now making letting less appealing for landlords and tenants being misadvised to conduct their tenancies in a certain manner. I see so many Facebook posts where tenants are uploading images of their properties and then the keyboard warriors jump on board with comments like “withhold your rent,” “go to citizens advice,” “speak to your MP,” “move out.” Or my favourite: “OMG, you ok hun? Landlords just wanna get rich whilst you pay their mortgage.”

"On the flip side there are some landlords that have the mentality of (and I still hear it to this day shortly before I flop my head in my hands): “It’ll do a tenant” or “there’s no point spending a lot of money, it’ll only get trashed.”

"This is what we are up against as an industry – a vast lack of knowledge especially where many feel they can educate themselves via a Google search or what they’ve read on social media.

Trust the Experts

"I remember several years ago I was talking to a police chief who was about to retire and invest his hard-earned money into property. He wanted a fully managed service with rent guarantee and legal cover, leaving everything to the agents. I commended his decision for not only providing more housing for tenants but for making the smart decision to leave it to the professionals. I asked why he felt that way and he gave me an example that sits with me still to this day.

He said: “As the police chief, if I’m called out to a serious incident and I need to do a forensic examination I don’t roll my sleeves up and get the marigolds on, I call the experts in and let them handle it. I could give it a go as I’ve done this 35 years but I can’t compete with a professional forensic examiner.” This was a beautiful moment for me, I wanted to embrace him but it wasn’t the time or the place."

"A letting agent is often caught between a rock and a hard place. If you find a fantastic tenant that’s no problem then a landlord may want to take over management themselves as they feel they don’t need an agent anymore; plus Jimbo round the corner is a plumber and can help out if anything goes wrong. Or if you find a landlord a tenant that then becomes a problem, then it’s your fault!

Tenants and Landlords

"Renting property out is still one of the best investments you can make as a landlord. Being a tenant allows you to have a lifestyle and flexibility where you can rent a wonderful home. So what’s the way forward in this social media-frenzied age we are in? As a landlord, use the services of an accredited, experienced agent, look at their reviews, get rent and legal cover, take their advice on exactly what standard you should let the property in. Let the agent do everything for you because if or when it goes wrong then your professional agent becomes invaluable and you are paying for their advice and expertise on what to do next, so you’d be silly not to use it."

"As a tenant think about your next landlord – are they likely to have the knowledge and expertise that a professional agent has? Who will you turn to if anything goes wrong? The managing agent is there for your safety and a smooth tenancy. If you ever find yourself in court make sure you pay for a solicitor to get the best outcome. If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional then just you wait till you use an amateur.

"If you find a landlord a tenant that then becomes a problem, then it’s your fault!"

Choose the right agent

It is important to use an expert who follows best practice, meets all requirements of the profession and works to industry standards. Propertymark Protected letting agents are experienced and trained professionals who work to a code of practice in order to help landlords manage their homes.

Not only will an agent advertise your property for you, deal directly with the tenant on your behalf and complete all relevant paperwork, but an ARLA Propertymark protected agent will also have Professional Indemnity insurance, and you and your money will be covered by our Client Money Protection, giving you peace of mind throughout the letting process.

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