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Nobody Will Rent To Us?

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Newbie
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« on: May 28, 2020, 04:43:01 PM »

We are three professional women, aged between 22-26.

We are all in full time employment in respectable jobs (Software Developer, Sales Executive, Teacher) with a combined wage of around £65000!
Yet we're having an absolute nightmare trying to find a place to live that will even consider us.
We have offered 6 month's rent upfront in some cases, to no avail.

This is an exciting part in our lives as for all three of us these are our first professional jobs (and we have all finished our probation periods in these jobs - ie this will ideally be a rental period of a few years at least).
We want a home. I want to have a bedroom that, for the first time in my life, is not furnished with dirt-cheap furniture. Not that I think there's anything wrong with that, but it's a time of my life that I'm quite happy to move on from now.

We're wondering what we can possibly do to convince agents/landlords to rent to us? Is there some secret that we're missing? Any advice welcome.
Sr. Member
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2020, 10:56:04 PM »

Have they told you why they are not considering you, or is it simply they're not putting properties on the market at the moment due to COVID?
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2020, 10:25:20 AM »

Where in the country and what sort of property are you looking at? If you're competing against couples, families and people who have a long history of renting, it could be that landlords are steering towards what they perceive, fairly or otherwise, to be the "safe" option.
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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2020, 10:29:32 AM »

Have they told you why they are not considering you, or is it simply they're not putting properties on the market at the moment due to COVID?

A handful have said because the landlord doesn't want sharers, but this seems strange? Friends have a higher income and are far less likely to have an argument/break up.
The rest just seem to ignore us or never call back.
We're considering pretending there's only two of us that are a couple in order to find somewhere to live.
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« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2020, 10:36:25 AM »

Where in the country and what sort of property are you looking at? If you're competing against couples, families and people who have a long history of renting, it could be that landlords are steering towards what they perceive, fairly or otherwise, to be the "safe" option.

Just north of Birmingham. We're looking at three bedroom houses.
That's what we think, but we can't work out how to convince people that we're safe - if we get as far as a viewing (often doesnt happen as the agents frequently say no because there's three of us) and apply, we get told 'no'.
I'm just wondering if any landlords on here had advice for how/what to do to to convince them we want to take care of their house.

I really don't understand the family thing - a family may have only one income and more outgoings - far more dangerous in the current climate - and couples are more likely to break up than friends are.
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« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2020, 10:57:40 PM »

You might be surprised how many house-shares among friends go tizzup within a matter of months, be it because of a major falling-out, or just a build-up of little irritating habits finally driving you out of the door, or one of you meets the man/woman/other of your dreams and either wants to move in with man/woman/other, or wants to move them in with you, or they're over so often it's like they live here anyway and you have a suspicion they ate all your yogurt etc etc.

I'm not saying that's going to happen to you, but if you can see that it's a possibility, and have a plan in place from the outset so that you won't inconvenience your landlord when it happens, then that might help to persuade a landlord not to overlook you in favour of the "safe" family/couple who've been together for years. It's all about perception: a bunch of young, single professionals sharing a house might be a bit too This Life for some landlords - like renting to students but without the premium. You just need to get across that you're not like that.

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« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2020, 04:06:12 PM »

You might be surprised how many house-shares among friends go tizzup within a matter of months, be it because of a major falling-out, or just a build-up of little irritating habits finally driving you out of the door, or one of you meets the man/woman/other of your dreams and either wants to move in with man/woman/other, or wants to move them in with you, or they're over so often it's like they live here anyway and you have a suspicion they ate all your yogurt etc etc.

I'm not saying that's going to happen to you, but if you can see that it's a possibility, and have a plan in place from the outset so that you won't inconvenience your landlord when it happens, then that might help to persuade a landlord not to overlook you in favour of the "safe" family/couple who've been together for years. It's all about perception: a bunch of young, single professionals sharing a house might be a bit too This Life for some landlords - like renting to students but without the premium. You just need to get across that you're not like that.

I have no idea what 'This Life' is but I get your meaning ('a bunch' is a bit irritating though - there's three of us. We don't want to split up because then one of us is on her own). Somewhat understandable, but we've all lived together for the last year. It's a bit difficult to convince landlords of anything when all they see is names on paper - nobody's asked us any follow up questions. Also, if we sign a joint tenancy agreement then each of us is responsible for the whole rent, so any 'inconveniences' that someone moving out would cause would be handled by the other tenants... that's the whole point of the contract, it protects the landlord's income. I'm stuck in a contract right now with a landlord who repeatedly shows up unnannounced at the house, puts coin machines on appliances (after advertising 'bills included'), gives workmen the doorcodes into our house (and on a few occasions let them into our rooms without our permission), shows up and disconnects the dishwasher, etc etc... what can I do? Citizens Advice said they could send a letter to him. Helpful. So I'm paying, because I have to, even though I haven't lived there for the last two months. My point is, if we have an argument and someone moves out, we're still required by law to pay, so we would pay. And like I said, we've offered money upfront to show that we're committed.

It just seems a bit harsh. If the landlords spoke to/met us and decided no, then fine, but they're just judging people on pre-conceived notions.
I just never thought that I'd have a hard time finding somewhere to live when I have the most secure and highest income I've ever had in my life.

I'm interested in whether or not, as a landlord looking at an application form with names and ages and addresses on, anything on that form is standing out. Do we need to all put down the same address to show we've lived together? Or is it the fact that there's three different people on the form? In which case, would landlords prefer for us to put two people on the tenancy and sub-let the third room to the third person (with permission, of course)?  :-\
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2020, 09:18:51 AM »

If there are 3 of you, all unrelated , does this not mean any property you wish to rent will have to be registered as an HMO. This obviously raises many legal issues for a landlord and extra costs of registering the property with most councils as an HMO.  This could be a reason you are not being considered.
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« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2020, 11:48:19 AM »

In some areas. However we've been told by agents that where we are no extra registration is required for three people - we want to rent the house as a household together. The birmingham city council page states:

"An HMO is a building or a part of a building (such as a flat) that is occupied by three or more persons, living as more than one household, where rent is paid, or some other consideration is made.
The most common form of HMO is where three or more unrelated persons occupy a house, where they pay rent for their own bedroom and share a kitchen and/or a bathroom. However, there are other ways in which the occupation of a building, or part of a building, can constitute a HMO, and these are defined in Sections 254 - 259 of the Housing Act 2004."

Gov.UK states:
"A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.
If you want to rent out your property as a house in multiple occupation in England or Wales you must contact your council to check if you need a licence.
You must have a licence if you’re renting out a large HMO in England or Wales. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following apply:
    -it is rented to 5 or more people who form more than 1 household
    -some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
    -at least 1 tenant pays rent (or their employer pays it for them)"

I've looked into Sections 254-259 of the Housing Act - I can't make head nor tail of it, it gets rather convoluted.

I'm not 100% sure, but we intend to live as a single household, and not rent individual bedrooms, so I don't believe we're classed as an HMO.
If we ARE classed as one, then perhaps we should offer to rent the house as two of us and sublet to the third :) Maybe that will help.
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« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2020, 11:57:09 AM »

3 unrelated people, no romantic relationship etc. is an HMO. It's not a Large HMO so not subject to mandatory licensing. If that's what agents in your area are telling you, it's probably also not subject to additional licensing. However, it still would be an HMO with additional legal requirements that go with it. Having said that, I'm not convinced most single property landlords would be worrying about thos extra requirements most of them have probably never heard of.

Quote
If we ARE classed as one, then perhaps we should offer to rent the house as two of us and sublet to the third
Still an HMO. Not sure who will end up having to comply with HMO requirements but probably wouldn't help.
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« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2020, 12:06:59 PM »

3 unrelated people, no romantic relationship etc. is an HMO. It's not a Large HMO so not subject to mandatory licensing. If that's what agents in your area are telling you, it's probably also not subject to additional licensing. However, it still would be an HMO with additional legal requirements that go with it. Having said that, I'm not convinced most single property landlords would be worrying about thos extra requirements most of them have probably never heard of.

Quote
If we ARE classed as one, then perhaps we should offer to rent the house as two of us and sublet to the third
Still an HMO. Not sure who will end up having to comply with HMO requirements but probably wouldn't help.

Interesting, thanks for the help!
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« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2020, 02:08:12 PM »

This Life was a drama series about a bunch of twenty-something professionals sharing a house. It was cool, it was edgy, it was ... quite possibly before you were born, come to think of it. I feel old now!

While the HMO thing doesn't really pose much of a burden, especially for small HMO arrangements, it's probably enough to scare off a lot of landlords who have never really looked into it and just assume it's going to be a load of trouble. It's that perception thing again, and the result is landlords playing it safe (in their minds), and going for that couple/family who are interested in the property as well.

What's your relationship with your local estate agents like? If you can start to build up a rapport with them then they're more likely to advocate you to the landlord. That won't help with landlords that don't use an agent but there are plenty out there that do, and if the agent knows that you're three quiet tenants with impeccable credentials and a spectacularly comprehensive knowledge of bathroom cleaning products, then you've got a bit of an advantage back over that couple/family they've only met for ten minutes.
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« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2020, 04:47:06 PM »

To start...

Three sharers, unrelated but interrelated, is outside the norm, therefore Landlords who can sometimes be overly cautious, go for what they know... or the traditional family unit, or the 2 sharers, otherwise, it's complicated (at least in their eyes). Landlords are Human Beings too and they mostly want an easy life. No matter what you three think today about your relationship as a three-Tenant party... it being long-term, you wanting to make a home, all the good stuff... it won't matter that much if the Landlord just thinks - all it takes is for one of them to fall out with the others, and then it's grief a-plenty for me. You can say this is the same risk with a family, but you'd be doing that until you're blue in the face (I think). The Landlord also probably thinks it's just a matter of time until one of you, or two of you or three of gets a partner and either wants to move them in (causing friction) or wants to change the names on the tenancy (aggravation) and it's becoming something you want to avoid. Three prospective Tenants who are to be referenced is also additional cost vs. two. And as those costs cannot be passed on nowadays it might be unattractive in the eyes of someone who thinks short-term... but while thinking short-term they cannot bank on you thinking long-term (a few years is a good run for a tenancy in anyone's eyes).

Add to this any misunderstanding regarding HMO legislation and you can see why the Landlords are not necessarily running for the hills, but probably taking on prospects that they consider to be less risky.

What could your strategy be? Well - I think the rent upfront is a good idea (the best)... you've offered 6 months, which is no small-beer. I always offer 6 month tenancies anyway (so that would be it for me) but if you're looking for a 12 month fixed term, can you stretch to the full term? This would lock you all in, and remove one of the considerations... plus - if the Landlord is comfortable will the rent upfront, it might even mean they don't feel the need to go through referencing, avoiding further cost. Lastly... for properties that are currently empty... I would stress your ability to move quickly... this is always a winner for me... if I have a property I'm doing viewings on in May I am not interested in the Tenants who tell me they're thinking of a move-in date "sometime in July". For me that's extra lost income, extra bills and extra Council Tax.

Lastly, for viewings... I always do them myself as I eye-ball people and make my own impressions rather than relying on an Agent. For you this can swing both ways... for an Agent, they'll be disinterested, they'll just want the property off their books so they can move on. But if you do a viewing with a Landlord then have some questions... show you're interested... ask what's in the locality, ask about Council Tax band, ask if you're OK making small approved improvements... ask things to come across as enthusiastic... not overly keen, it's a fine balance... but if the property is actually nice then tell the Landlord - they might be pleased to hear that, especially if they have put work into it.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2020, 05:02:34 PM by Hippogriff »
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« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2020, 04:33:13 PM »

This Life was a drama series about a bunch of twenty-something professionals sharing a house. It was cool, it was edgy, it was ... quite possibly before you were born, come to think of it. I feel old now!

While the HMO thing doesn't really pose much of a burden, especially for small HMO arrangements, it's probably enough to scare off a lot of landlords who have never really looked into it and just assume it's going to be a load of trouble. It's that perception thing again, and the result is landlords playing it safe (in their minds), and going for that couple/family who are interested in the property as well.

What's your relationship with your local estate agents like? If you can start to build up a rapport with them then they're more likely to advocate you to the landlord. That won't help with landlords that don't use an agent but there are plenty out there that do, and if the agent knows that you're three quiet tenants with impeccable credentials and a spectacularly comprehensive knowledge of bathroom cleaning products, then you've got a bit of an advantage back over that couple/family they've only met for ten minutes.

Unfortunately there's not really any way to show to agents that we have impeccable credentials because they refuse to get any further than the first step. It's really odd...... We make it abundantly clear there's three of us (because of how many times we've viewed houses now only to be told no) before a viewing is done. We start the applicati on procedure, send them the documents required, then they say no, they can't rent to three of us. As the girl who's viewing the houses is travelling a fair distance to see them, we've started to really dislike most agents (not that we make this clear). A few have been helpful and have said that if anything suitable comes on the market they'll get back to us, and that we had a very strong application, but we'll see whether that happens or not...
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