Tenants required to find guarantor instead of deposit

(45 Posts)
familygermsareok Fri 07-Mar-14 20:04:08

I'm a landlord of one property (inherited), not much experience and live geographically distant so leave most things up to letting agency. Tenants contacted me concerned as LA have told them they will have their deposit returned but must find a guarantor instead.
Guarantor must be solvent, a home owner themselves and happy to underwrite any expenses for repairs/cleaning/unpaid rent that the tenants do not cover.
I phoned the LA who confirmed they are now insisting on this for all tenants.

I am a bit shocked - I can foresee several potential problems on both tenants and landlord sides.
I cannot think of anyone I could personally ask to act as a guarantor if I was in tenants position and even if a guarantor was found who is to guarantee that they would pay up if needed. And I bet it wouldn't be the LA that paid any court expenses!

So is this common practice? Am I just being naive?

I have informed our tenants and LA that I will continue with current deposit system for them, but if new tenants are required would the guarantor system be reasonable?

It sounds ridiculous. There was a thread on here just last week about how dangerous it is to be a guarantor for anyone. I can't imagine many people being in a position to find one.

I'm a LL too, but entirely in the private sector so have no experience of LAs. Is there no chance to just rent your property to private tenants?

Use a different letting agent. That is a stupid notion and will result in more problems for LLs if there is damage. With a deposit you can just deduct costs but you would have to go to court to chase funds from a guarantor which would cost money and time.
Letting agents vary wildly in scumminess and some are floating down at the bottom of the pond.

CocktailQueen Fri 07-Mar-14 20:13:47

I'd stick with keeping the deposit. Years ago I owned a flat and let it out when we moved out. The tenant had her father as guarantor. She skipped out leaving the flat in a disgusting mess and using the deposit as her last month of rent sad and her father refused to pay up.

Couldn't face taking him to court. Wrote it up to experience. So a guarantor isn't necessarily a guarantee of anything.

gamerchick Fri 07-Mar-14 20:14:07

I have a friend who had to chase a guarantor.. apparently the guarantor didn't realise what she was liable for. when the tenant turned into a dickhead.

but it took courts and my friend had to shell out to get anywhere.

I don't know the ins and outs but surely if the current arrangement suits then you can insist on your own terms?

EBearhug Fri 07-Mar-14 20:18:20

Yes, it's a problem - I rent. I'm in FT work on a fairly good salary (though not quite enough to get a deposit together to buy), my parents are both dead. Who would be a guarantor for me? I can get a deposit together, but I really don't know anyone who would be a guarantor - and if I knew anyone who was prepared to back me like that and take the risk of me costing them money, I'd probably be asking for their support in helping me buy a house rather than rent. I don't think I'm that unusual, in not knowing anyone who could be a guarantor.

The only time I've seen guarantors used for housing was when I was a student, but that's generally a (comparatively) temporary situation. There have been quite a few changes to tenancy law since I was a student.

bochead Fri 07-Mar-14 20:27:29

Who does a professional person in their 30s- 40's ask to be a guarantor? The ex husband or wife? Give over. Giggling some more, who would a recent retired ask to be their guarantor? Their in debt up to the eyeballs after Uni kids?

daft, daft, daft and would rule out as tenants the very sensible mid-late life people who probably make the best tenants in terms of caring for your property.

I can see this perhaps working as a student let, but even then the absence of money up front in deposit is almost an invitation not to look after the joint.

Use a professional agency, cos this lot are not.

Sometimes LA's take on properties themselves on 5 year leases and undertake to do ALL the maintenance in that time. A few Uni's do too. That's the only time I'd consider not getting a deposit - when a council or university will be left holding the bill for repairs directly on a 5 year lease.

Ah sorry - LA means 'letting agent' not 'Local Authority' - duh. In that case use another agent - or don't use an agent at all. I don't. I wouldn't trust them. Joint the National Landlords Association - you can find all the contracts and legal info you need there. Credit check your tenants and do it yourself.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 07-Mar-14 20:33:25

The agent dealing with our property have asked our new tenant for deposit and they require a guarantor.
I think you'll find most that are members of whatever the organisation is, will ask for both. Is it ARLA?

familygermsareok Fri 07-Mar-14 20:33:51

Thanks everyone, that confirms my thoughts on it too. I think it is a daft system for all above reasons.

Unfortunately can't use another LA, it is a small rural island and only one LA there which is a subsidiary of a bigger firm ( it amazes me they would be doing this). I actually asked them with incredulity whether they had any tenants having problems getting guarantors and they said no, everyone should know someone who will trust them shock
I told them I wouldn't be able to find anyone myself and they just kind of shrugged!

Have considered just managing property myself but I live several hours away on mainland so not easy to get to in case of emergency, and unable to show prospective new tenants round if ever need to. Also happier having safety checks etc done by recognised agency.

Current tenants have been in for 3 years, always pay on time, no problems, really hope they stay. But if they do go in the future I will stick with deposit system.

TinyDiamond Fri 07-Mar-14 20:39:00

Are you sure they are not asking for a guarantor in addition to the deposit as well? This is becoming popular with agents where I live. A recently separated friend went through a total nightmare trying to rent somewhere despite earning enough.

Utter nightmare to not have a deposit though. This agent sounds idiotic I'd find a better one.

familygermsareok Fri 07-Mar-14 20:54:23

Cross posted with you morethanpotatoprints. Just googled ARLA, no my LA not on there, they are primarily estate agents who also do property management but are quite a big firm with multiple offices.

I have considered managing myself but the sheer logistics of getting to the property would make that v difficult, particularly if ever need to show new tenants around. I could probably do just as good a credit check as the LA though!

TinyDiamond yes, they are giving back the deposit. As LA is no longer holding deposits they are transferring it to me ( I will be putting in mydeposit scheme as legally required!).

I really struggle to see how expecting people to find a guarantor is reasonable, it is a huge request to make of someone, even family, and surely not everyone knows someone who is a homeowner/solvent/happy to put their own financial security at potential risk.
And as other posters have said there is no guarantee the guarantor would pay anyway!

morethanpotatoprints Fri 07-Mar-14 21:00:44

OP

Do check out what the EA are offering, it may not be worth paying the extra for them managing it.
Ours are offering the usual reading meters etc just for the initial cost.
We heard that when they manage your property the trades people they use are usually more expensive than those you would choose yourself. They have a list of particular ones they use, quite often they up the price for lls. If you manage yourself you can shop around for reasonable prices.

MidniteScribbler Fri 07-Mar-14 21:15:30

I wouldn't have anyone I could get to be a guarantor. My parents are both deceased, I have no other living relatives. I'd have no chance. What about newly arrived immigrants, they wouldn't necessarily have any options either?

Oldraver Fri 07-Mar-14 21:17:25

My son had to pay a deposit and find a guarantor me, despite having been a renter for a few years

Caitlin17 Fri 07-Mar-14 21:21:35

You have got the wrong end of several sticks here.

Firstly your letting agent should not be holding the deposit unless they enrolled you in and you paid for one of the insurance based schemes. There are 2 types of deposit scheme. One where the whole deposit is placed and the other where the landlord keeps it but pays a premium to the scheme provider so that if landlord defaults the scheme has to pay out.

In Scotland only the placement system applies.

No landlord or agent in England or Scotland should be holding deposits.

If deposits are properly placed they stay there until the end of the tenancy.

I think your letting agency is bull shitting to the nth degree. I suspect they are trying to offload deposits they haven't properly placed.

If this is an existing lease and the agency didn't place it properly the tenants can ask for it back. In Scotland they can ask the court to make you pay them 3xs the deposit as a penalty for not placing it.

For new tenancies there is nothing to stop you taking a deposit but you must put it in a scheme.

newbiefrugalgal Fri 07-Mar-14 21:28:32

Can you use the agents to just find the tenants the you manage it. So they are able to do checks and viewings.

Have a set of trades you trust and have these ready for emergencies. Maybe have backup ones too for peace of mind

NadiaWadia Fri 07-Mar-14 21:33:08

The Letting Agents sound awful. Why are they passing the deposit on to you to deal with? Surely this is part of what you pay them for?

My student DD has just signed up for a student house for the next academic year and needed a guarantor. A good thing her letting agency doesn't have such rigid rules as yours, as then because DH and I are renting ourselves, we would not be able to be guarantors because we are not home owners.

The agency should have been keeping informed, surely, if they wanted to do this? Remember, they are working for you, doing things on your behalf. You should call the shots.

luabay Fri 07-Mar-14 21:36:11

Anyone agreeing to be a guarantor needs their head checking, basically it's an agreement whereby if the tenant doesn't feel like paying for anything the guarantor is liable. So tenant moves in , decides not to pay rent, guarantor is liable. Tenant doesn't want to move out, since they live there for free, landlord is getting their rent so they're happy, guarantor is stuck paying for a contract between two people that they can't cancel. At least that's what the landlord likes to think. The whole concept is legally dubious on this basis in fact.

LessMissAbs Fri 07-Mar-14 22:03:23

Unfortunately can't use another LA, it is a small rural island

I suspect that's why they are doing this. Quite possibly on a small island, asking for a guarantor is more effective than a deposit. Deposits don't do an awful lot if the tenant stops paying. And tenancy deposit schemes are a hassle for both tenant and landlord if there is an issue over withholding part of the deposit for damages. I have heard in Scotland that there are few tenancy deposit schemes authorised and the ones which are half suffered from staff absentee issues which have led to big delays in returning deposits to tenants.

familygermsareok Fri 07-Mar-14 22:50:58

caitlin I suspect you may be right about the LA trying to offload deposits they haven't properly placed. We are in Scotland and the tenancy began before the legal requirement to hold in the mydeposit scheme. As a new first time landlord I just left the LA to deal with everything I thought that's what I was paying them for.
My understanding is that deposits now have to be placed with mydepositscotland and as soon as it has been transferred to me I will be placing it there.
I'm not sure if the LA or myself would be liable if tenants decided to take us to court if it hasn't been properly placed. Hopefully this won't be an issue as I am now trying to sort it and so far have had a good relationship with tenants.

morethanpotatoprints and newbiefrugalgal thanks, I hadn't thought about asking them just to do annual safety checks at individual costings without the rest of the management. I'm a little worried that LA may refuse to deal with me again though if I leave them now and just use for new viewings when needed. I would also like to have regular property checks done, the tenants have been very reliable and looked after the house well(although their agreed pets have multiplied a bit) but it is reassuring to know this is continuing to be the case.
Tenants and I already manage repairs/maintenance between us as the LA have been shit at this. We have an agreement that the tenants can contact any local trades person direct when required and invoices sent straight to me. They confirm with me first for sums over £150. So LA really do sweet FA for their money angry.

Caitlin17 Fri 07-Mar-14 23:27:07

OP all deposits in Scotland no matter when the lease started should have been placed by May 2013.

The Scottish courts have been ordering repayments and compensation payments. Any order would be made against you not the agency. It needs an application to be made to the courts by the tenants. Unfortunately it's in the tenants'interest to do so as it's a technical breach to which you have no defence. I hope they won't if you place it now.

Are you registered as a "fit and proper person" to be a landlord under The Anti Social Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004?

Caitlin17 Fri 07-Mar-14 23:30:19

Oh and there are 3 approved Scottish deposit schemes. As far as I know they all work exactly the same way. I won't say which one I use as that might be unfair trading practice, but have a look at the web sites of all 3 and go with whichever you find most user friendly.

Mumof3xx Fri 07-Mar-14 23:32:08

With my LA you pay a deposit of a months rent, of you are under 25 you also have to have a guarantor

Caitlin17 Fri 07-Mar-14 23:34:23

Sorry more thoughts, I only use a letting agency to do viewings, find tenants and check references. I do all the legal stuff myself. On repairs I have my preferred very reliable, very honest tradesmen and tenants are,like yours, told to instruct them direct and bills get sent to me.

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