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To speak to our tenants about their security measures?

(19 Posts)
ViviPru Fri 09-Sep-11 10:07:47

Genuinely not sure which way to go on this one - we've noticed on many occasions now that the french doors on the first floor balcony of the property we let are open (not just unlocked - wide open) during the day every time we pass, when neither of the tenants cars are parked outside (there is a drive with 2 spaces). On one occasion, I had to stop by to collect something from outside of the house, it appeared that nether tenant was in, but the doors were wide open again. Its a small house so pretty evident to me if someone is in or not. Its quite a through-route and friends and family often comment they've noticed the same when passing.

They're otherwise very good tenants and until now I've just thought, well its none of our business really, its an unfurnished let and if they get burgled its their problem. Not only that, if anything its reducing the risk of condensation and mould (always one to look for the positives, me). We recently performed an inspection and are very happy with their standard of maintenance etc.

We've gone backwards and forwards between ourselves over this, it could be that we are mistaken and they actually are in, their cars may be parked elsewhere, one of them might have taken a night shift job and sold a car etc etc. Its on my mind today as I'm renewing their contracts and come across the clause that includes a clause about their duty to secure the property when absent from it.

I know most people will probably say have a polite word to them about it, but they have made it very clear they like to to be left well alone unless absolutely necessary, as they have every entitlement to be as tenants.

WWYD?

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Fri 09-Sep-11 10:09:00

Write to them and raise your concerns.

ViviPru Fri 09-Sep-11 10:09:01

Err... clause that includes a clause? No legal eagle am I...

sparkle12mar08 Fri 09-Sep-11 10:10:58

Definitely have a quick word, and remind them at the contract resign that the clause is there and have them initial it specifically. After that it's up to them but they would be entirely liable if anything happened to the fabric of the building because of their breach of the agreement. Bugger their sensitivities over it, this is your property and part of your livelihood.

20wkbaby Fri 09-Sep-11 10:13:03

Having watched Homes from Hell the other day I would be concerned about squatters which would impact you directly (disclaimer: not sure about the legalities of squatting). I would definitely say something as at the very least a heavy rain shower could cause damage to the interior I imagine?

dreamingbohemian Fri 09-Sep-11 10:17:17

I think if you are otherwise happy with them as tenants, it would be good to tread carefully. I think it might sound kind of creepy to say that you've noticed it while driving by the house, it sounds better to say you stopped by to drop something off and they obviously weren't home but the door was open.

You do have a legitimate concern, if someone were to come in through the open door it is not just objects they might steal, they might set the house on fire or cause serious damage that you would be responsible for, and that your insurance would probably not cover if the door was left open.

For this reason, I think you should put everything in writing, just try to be really diplomatic about it (in case they are actually home when it's open, since you don't know for sure).

Merrin Fri 09-Sep-11 10:25:16

When you eventually sell you will have to declare being burgled, its something to be avoided even if its not your things stollen. Your insurance might go up as well.

ViviPru Fri 09-Sep-11 10:40:07

all good points, hadn't considered those potential issues, Merrin & 20wkbaby

But you've hit the nail on the head, dreamingbohemian, I don't want to creep them out, they would have no idea that I pass so often as its on the way to my Mums. That's a good suggestion, about specifically citing an occasion that we've noticed it, and perfect timing as we're dropping something off today and I don't expect them to be in.

Thanks AIBU, another dilemma solved.

StrandedBear Fri 09-Sep-11 11:10:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ViviPru Fri 09-Sep-11 11:13:49

True that, SB, It baffles me why they're happy to do it, I get edgy if I realise I've left the fanlight window open in our bathroom that opens out to a locked internal passageway... I've never come across anything like this before other than in minimal crime island communities (and the tenanted property is certainly not in one of those!)

tyler80 Fri 09-Sep-11 11:32:26

Is it a real balcony, or one of those houses with full height doors and railings but no balcony as such? So more of a window than a door?

pippala Fri 09-Sep-11 11:51:15

Sorry for jumping in here but I wonder if I may pick your brains?
we are in the process of buying either one or two bedroom flats for renting out.
The agents are charging 15% of the rent for looking after the flats.
As a virgin landlady should I try to go it alone or let them look after them for me?
They charge 10% to find tenants, references, collect rent etc. 15% to keep up maintence, sort out problems etc
The flats would be ten miles away from where we live so we could keep an eye on them.
In your experience are tenants looking for one or two bed flats or terrace houses? The difference in monthly rent in this area is about £150 but £50,000 on the purchase price.
Sorry for hijacking but you are the only landlady I have come across since we decided to do this.
Many thanks Pippa

raspberryroop Fri 09-Sep-11 11:52:19

Honestly I can understand your concerns but they have a right to ''quiet enjoyment' and it sound a bit stalkerish especially our friends have noticed to.

ViviPru Fri 09-Sep-11 12:13:35

Real balcony, tyler about 2ft by 6ft so the french doors open out fully. Its not overhanging either, the floor is basically the flat roof of the room below. I can imagine if you'd been used to using a Juliette-style balcony like you describe as a window, you might treat this balcony the same way but it is not a Juilette.

Pippala, we used an agent with the lowest possible fee to get our property on rightmove, and that was where their involvement ended. We manage the let ourselves. We were warned that this could lead to a whole world of headache, but as its the only property we let, its nearby and we're pretty clued up, we thought we'd give self-management a go. Not only that, in our experience of being renters/buyers/homeowners/sellers, we've found all the local agents utterly abysmal and refuse to pay them to essentially do very little and more fundamentally, I don't trust them to do a good job. You still have to pay for any maintenance work done (and probably more if its managed as you'd be using the agents' preferred contractor). You still have all the same legal rights and protections, especially if you take out good landlord insurance. If you have any legal problems, it will be solicitors who represent you, not a management company. All a management company are is a mild barrier between you and the tenant - good in some ways, bad in others.

I suppose we may have been lucky that our tenants have been pretty problem-free thus far - this has been the only issue and I can't see how a management agent could really help much here. Its also a new-ish property with few potential maintenance issues. A friend of mine has a managed let and has been on the phone to the agent sorting out a maintenance problem all week which has been exacerbated by the number of people involved in the chain of communication. She's ended up dealing direct with her tenant in the end. God only knows what she's paying the management fee for.

I think if we had a few more properties, we'd consider the managed let option, as I believe in paying specialists to perform their specialism while we get on and earn better money performing ours than we would be saving doing things DIY. That said, I'm not convinced I could find an agent who could do a decent enough job to warrant the fee. One of our best friends is a letting agent and while we think he's probably one of the best, there's things he does that I think I would do more efficiently were that my business.

Hope that helps smile

MackerelOfFact Fri 09-Sep-11 12:14:23

Where do the tenants originate from? If they're from a part of the country/world where people leave their doors open because it's so safe and friendly, it would be kind to have a word with them about the doors. It doesn't have to come from you - if you know the neighbours (and even if you don't) you could perhaps ask them to mention it to them.

If they're local and otherwise seem sane and reasonable, I'd just assume you don't know the whole picture. As you say, the cars might be parked elsewhere and there might be someone in, or perhaps they have a nanny, cleaner or elderly relative there during the day. I think most adults would realise that leaving doors open when a property is empty is a pretty bad idea, it would be a bit patronising to point it out.

ViviPru Fri 09-Sep-11 12:16:45

^ I think most adults would realise that leaving doors open when a property is empty is a pretty bad idea, it would be a bit patronising to point it out.^

You're absolutely right, Mackerel, these are precisely my thoughts and that's why I've been reluctant to mention it thus far. I think we'd need to be more certain that this is what is happening and cite an example as dreaming bohemian suggested

pippala Fri 09-Sep-11 12:27:53

Thank you for your reply ViviPru useful to have your views and I agree most letting agents don't seem that switched on!
To answer your problem I think I would just put in as a point in the contract renewal.
Good luck

ViviPru Fri 09-Sep-11 12:29:57

btw pippala in answer to your other question about the no of beds tenants prefer, I think this is extremely variable depending on area. You really just have to spend a lot of time looking at rents on properties in your area and how quickly various properties stay on Rightmove etc. You probably already are, but I'd say just become a slave to Rightmove. I wouldn't bother asking letting agents either as they just tell you what they think you want to hear to get maximum profits for themselves.

Where we live now, there is a huge premium on additional bedrooms. Small houses with small gardens and other less desirable features (on-street parking etc) but with more bedrooms command a much higher premium over larger properties on more prestigious streets with desirable features if they have 1 less bedroom. Does that make sense? So:

House 1: small mid-terrace, small garden, on-street parking, 3 bedrooms = £1000 pcm

House 2: detached, huge landscaped gardens, driveway, nicer street, 2 bedrooms = £800 pcm

but as I said - that's round here, probably down to catchment areas etc. - might not be the same where you are.

dreamingbohemian Fri 09-Sep-11 16:51:04

Good luck OP! smile

Pippa, I've only been a tenant, but I've had some dreadful experiences where our landlords were paying agencies to take care of things and they quite simply didn't. You could really lose a lot of money for nothing. If you can find trustworthy and reliable tenants, especially long-term ones, that would be the best case really, I reckon. (I'm biased though, I've known loads of decent tenants and not a single decent agency!)

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