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Tips to help landlords carry out viewings safely

landlord in pink cardigan opening door for a viewing

It’s important for landlords to think of personal safety when carrying out viewings to prospective tenants.

Personal safety has been an important issue for estate agents and letting agents ever since the disappearance of 25-year old estate agent Suzy Lamplugh in 1986. She went missing in broad daylight in the middle of the working day, after arranging a viewing with “Mr Kipper” at a house in Fulham and was never seen again.

Unfortunately, conducting viewings can be dangerous, particularly for women.

From a safety point of view, it’s best not to carry out viewings by yourself. However, it’s not always practical to have someone with you.

In this blog post, I explain some simple steps to help landlords stay safe when they need to show prospective tenants around their property themselves.

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Safety tips for landlords when planning viewings

There’s a lot that landlords can do if they need to show applicants around a property themselves. Here are some simple tips to help landlords stay safe, before they even arrive at the property.

1. Check out the applicant to see if they’re genuine

Before even contemplating a viewing, I ask all applicants to complete standard screening questions which I send to them automatically, to weed out unsuitable applicants. Click here for my screening questions.

I like to speak to each of the applicants on the phone before arranging a viewing, preferably on a landline. I switch off caller ID so that they don’t have a record of my mobile phone number. Speaking to applicants is not only another sift, so I don’t waste my time with unsuitable applicants, but it also lets me judge whether they’re legitimate. If something makes you feel uneasy, don’t go ahead with the viewing.

You can also do a quick search of social media to see if it checks out. LinkedIn is particularly useful if your applicant is a professional.

>> Related Post: How to choose good tenants

2. Don’t give out personal details to applicants

Don’t give out your personal mobile phone number to applicants.

I learned this the hard way and had to block someone who sent me inappropriate texts after a viewing.

Ask them to communicate you via the platform you use, eg OpenRent or Hello Neighbour. Using the platform means there’s an independent record of the arrangements.

You can also set up a business WhatsApp account very cheaply, and either keep it for all your tenants, or just use it for applicants. You can cancel the contract at any time.

Don’t let the applicants know you’ll be by yourself. For instance, you can say “we look forward to meeting you” rather than “I look forward to meeting with you”.

3. Safety in numbers

You’ll reduce the risk by arranging blocks of multiple viewings 15 minutes apart, and letting the applicant know that there are multiple back-to-back bookings.

Arranging viewing in blocks reduces the risk of something untoward happening during a viewing. This is because it means you won’t be alone for long before the next applicant comes.

4. Make sure someone knows where you are

Let someone know who you will be meeting, when you should be finished, and that they should expect a call when you’re finished. Let them know you have Find My Friends (or similar) activated, so they can track you if you don’t call.

5. Book viewings via the platform

Do book the viewings via the platform. Use it to send a reminder message, and ask the applicants to confirm they are still coming.

How landlords can stay safe when carrying out viewings

Here is a practical list of things that landlords can do to improve their personal safety when carrying out viewings:

1. How technology can help you stay safe during viewings

Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged, with Find My Friends (or similar) enabled. Keep it in a pocket as you go round the property.

It’s a good idea to carry a personal alarm – this pack of three small personal alarms from Amazon (affiliate link) are inexpensive, discreet and can go on your key ring.

2. Make sure it’s the right person before you let them in

If someone turns up who you are not expecting (for instance, two men, when you were expecting a woman), make an excuse not to let them in, eg tell them that the property has just been let.

3. Keep your keys with you

Don’t leave the keys to the property or your car on display. Keep them with you in a pocket, ideally with a small personal alarm on the key ring.

4. Stay nearest the exit

Try to avoid getting blocked in by letting the applicant go up the stairs first, but making sure you come down the stairs yourself first. This way you’re always closest to the exit.

5. Hover by the front door

If you feel at all uneasy, you can invite the applicant to take a look around on their own, and then answer any questions outside.

Some applicants may prefer this approach as it makes them feel less pressured.

Final thoughts

Landlords can save a lot of money if they bypass traditional letting agents, and find tenants themselves using the online platforms like OpenRent and Hello Neighbour.

However, unfortunately not all prospective tenants are legitimate, and it’s important to plan viewings in a way that ensures you won’t be putting your personal safety at risk.

how landlords can keep safe when doing viewings with woman closing a door

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