Landlords: God love them. They’re not the most beloved professionals out there, and while there are lots of great landlords to be found, almost everyone you meet will have been burned by a bad one at some point in their lives.
The big problem is, by the time you realise your landlord is awful, you’ve already moved in and signed a contract by which point doing anything about it becomes a huge hassle. There are, however, a couple of tell-tale signs you can look for before signing any sort of tenancy agreement, signs which will give you advanced warning of a bad landlord.
Here’s our list of landlord red flags, all of which should make you run a mile.
The property is in disrepair
If the home you are viewing is in a shabby condition, it tells you one very important thing: your landlord does not care about the property. They don’t even care enough to try and hide the disrepair for the viewing.
You can safely assume that, moving forward, the landlord will care about your renting experience as little as they do the state of their property, Should any problems come up, maintenance issues, for example, they are unlikely to offer the desired help.
Landlord won’t provide appropriate contact details
A good landlord will provide comprehensive contact details from the outset of your interaction. This includes a full business address, an email address, and contact numbers which can be used when you need to get in touch.
If a landlord is reluctant to give you any, or all, of this information, it’s suspicious. It suggests that they either don’t want you to be able to contact them, or they don’t want their address and details to be connected to their landlording activities. It might be that they are trying to stay ‘under the radar’ instead of playing by the rules.
If this is the case, you should avoid them at all costs. If anything bad were to happen to you as a result of the landlord’s neglect, the fact that they are not officially on the record could come back to bite you and damage your chances of reaching a satisfactory resolution.
Evasive under questioning
Before signing any tenancy agreement, you should ask your landlord all sorts of questions. It’s a chance for you to get confirmation on the rules, such as pet ownership, decoration limitations, and so on. But it also helps you understand what action you should take, or who you should contact, were you to need help with anything.
If the landlord is evasive when answering your questions, it is definitely a red flag. Everything you’re asking deserves a good answer. Failure to provide one indicates a lack of interest, a lack of knowledge, or both. It could also mean they are being intentionally vague so that they can find more excuses to fine you later on in the tenancy.
Downplays clear problems
If there are significant issues with the property you are looking to rent, such as a faulty boiler or cracks in the ceiling, your landlord should do everything they can to remedy the situation quickly.
If, instead of doing this, they try to downplay the issue and tell you it’s not that big of a deal, it’s a red flag. You want a landlord who takes your interests seriously. This includes ensuring that problems are addressed at speed.
Just imagine what it would be like for the boiler to fully conk out a week before Christmas only for your landlord to show no urgency in getting it fixed, telling you “it’s not that big of a deal, we’ll sort it eventually”.
Strange financial requirements
If a landlord has any strange financial requirements, it’s a red flag. This includes refusing to accept rent payments through standing order or bank transfer. They might provide some sort of excuse, but the truth is, if they’re only willing to take cash or cheque, they are trying to keep the money away from the tax man.
You might think it’s no skin off your nose if your landlord is dodging the system, but the stench of a rogue landlord can spread, and their own discrepancies could end up causing you harm. They might, for example, end up having their properties confiscated which would mean you have to move out unexpectedly.
Ask the current tenants
You need to try and talk to the current or previous tenants and ask them about the landlord. There is a good chance you will not meet them during your viewings (agents usually like the occupiers to be absent for viewings), but once you’ve been to the property, you can always go back on your own.
If you do, however, do it gently. You can knock on the door, hope the tenants answer and then politely ask them for their opinion about the landlord, or you can drop a note through the door which explains what you want to know and provides a phone number for them to text should they have something to share.
Outgoing tenants have little reason to protect the interests of their landlord, and even less reason to lie. So this is valuable insight which you can trust.
Have you had a bad landlord experience? Were there any warning signs you missed? Let us know in the comments section below so that we can share the knowledge with our community.