How to Have a Safe Viewing Every Time
As every Upad landlord knows, choosing your own tenants is the only way to know you have the right people for you and your property. For the tenant, they get to you rather than the agent; something 90% of them tell us they prefer.
I’ve personally shown dozens of viewers around flats, always on my own, and I’ve never had a problem. When I first started letting properties I did have one or two male viewers who made me slightly nervous, one because he became argumentative when I rejected his low offer, and the other because he turned up without making an appointment.
So if you’re planning to conduct viewings on your own, I thought I’d share some of the safety tips I’ve picked up:
- Always interview prospective tenants on the phone and find out as much as you can about them before agreeing to meet them. If anything makes you feel uneasy, make an excuse not to show them the property. On average, I only arrange viewings with about half those who respond to my ads
- Take all viewers’ contact details, including a landline telephone number as well as a mobile. Call them back on the landline, under the pre-text of confirming the appointment, to make sure that it’s genuine. If anyone refuses to give you a landline number, tell them you can’t show them the property (this is standard practice among letting agents).
- Tell your partner, a friend or colleague who you’re meeting at your property and at what time and when you expect to return. Leave a copy of the viewer’s contact details with them
- When you meet a viewer, call someone (or your own voicemail) in their presence and say something like: “I am at X Street with Mr Y and I’ll be back in 15 minutes. This tells the viewer that someone knows you’re meeting them and is expecting you to return
- If you feel uncomfortable with the viewer, make some excuse not to enter the property with them. I once opened the door to a man when I was expecting a woman - he said he had come instead of his girlfriend - so I told him that unfortunately he was too late, I’d already accepted an offer from someone else
- Avoid the risk of getting trapped inside with a stranger by stepping back to allow them to enter every room first and invited them to go upstairs ahead of you, and make sure they’re never between you and the front door. If you don’t like the look of a viewer, you could always hover by the front door, with your mobile phone in your hand, and invite them to take a look around on their own
- If someone makes you an offer, to avoid confrontation thank them but say you’ll need to discuss it with your business partner/husband/dad and let them know later
- Buy a personal alarm to keep in your pocket, just in case
- Don’t offer anyone a lift back to the train station/bus stop/tube if it means you’ll be alone in a car with them
Always trust your instincts and if anything about a viewer makes you nervous then make some excuse to leave the property straight away.
Once you’ve found a tenant, if their behaviour starts to make you feel threatened, avoid face-to-face meetings with them alone and end the tenancy as soon as is legally possible.
Like I said, I’ve shown dozens of viewers round properties and dealt on my own with tenants for 10 years and never had a problem, but there’s no harm in being cautious.