The fine art of structuring disability rental agreements

Finding the right rental home for a disabled client with specific and urgent needs can be tricky at the best of times but in this market, where stock is exceptionally thin on the ground, it presents a whole new level of challenge.

Yet, in the past month, PLG have managed to get five, really tricky, rental deals agreed and over the line.

The level of adaptation work required on each of these will be considerable, with four of the five properties requiring lifts to be installed in addition to the normal bathing and access issues faced on properties.

We know it is tough out there – these particular cases were referred to us following a struggle to find appropriate properties, and getting landlords and agents to agree to the required works.

Lack of stock

Lack of stock is dominating conversations like never before. In addition to the lack of properties, our clients have very specific needs, which doesn’t help. Four-bed bungalows are hard to come by in any market and tend to be owned by accidental landlords, whether as a result of probate or moving away, because they are relatively expensive compared with two-storey properties.

With such limited stock, coupled with exceptionally high demand, we have to be creative with our solutions. We work in tandem with the legal and clinical teams to find solutions that meet our clients’ needs.

Clients and their families often don’t know what is feasible and how to approach it. Why would they? But we do know what can be done and our job is to guide them to the best outcome.

Protecting everyone’s interests

Those trying to source rental property for disabled clients can struggle to get the enabling works agreed. At PLG, in our experience we find that the key to a successful rental is ensuring the landlord’s and agent’s positions are as protected as the tenant’s. This doesn’t mean throwing money at the problem and paying a year’s rent upfront, as some landlords/agents demand, as that doesn’t protect the tenant’s interests. While we would hope that most landlords and agents put their tenants’ needs first, we worry that they might be less inclined to act quickly if they have received all the money upfront. The tenant loses their bargaining power, which is never a good position to be in.

Because we have plenty of experience in arranging these sorts of rental agreements, we know the best way of structuring them. We have a good idea as to the objections the landlord and agent may raise because we have been here many times before. We ensure they don’t need to raise any of those objections because the deal is structured in such a way that all this is addressed already, they have a reason to say no.

What we offer isn’t a run-of-the mill tenancy and is very likely to be one that the landlord and agent have never come across before. But this doesn’t take anything away from the strength of the proposal and if it is explained properly, we usually find that any issues are easily resolved.

To this end, we insist that:

  • All necessary works are agreed upfront
  • No work is undertaken until the tenancy starts
  • Reinstatement values/work agreed at the outset and included within the AST
  • Everything is run under contract by us
  • The legal team confirms in writing that there are sufficient funds in place for the length of the tenancy, as the courts have already awarded funds for this purpose

To avoid a bunfight at the end of the tenancy, it is good practice to get everything in writing as part of the agreement, ensuring the reinstatement clause is agreed before the tenancy starts. Everyone’s interests are protected if they all know their obligations and where they stand.

Why our clients make the best tenants

We’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again – our clients offer as secure a tenancy as any. Typically, they rent for 2-4 years while we find and adapt their forever home for them, there is no chopping and changing after 6 or 12 months.

We appreciate 2-4 years might be too long for landlords hesitant about the future, who prefer some flexibility with their assets. If there is a significant economic downturn on the back of the pandemic, they may want to be able to sell at relatively short notice and get cash in the bank.

On the other hand, it could be argued that a really secure tenant is worth having at the moment, given the huge levels of uncertainty. We take the property as it is and return it as it is – the risk to the landlord really is minimal.

Can we help?

Do you or your client need help finding a rental property and/or getting enabling works agreed? Please get in touch to see whether we can help.

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We find and create the perfect property for people living with disabilities. Whenever they need us, wherever they need us.

Get in touch with our team today.

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