What does the ideal Medway tenant look like?”, asked one of my landlords from Chatham the other day, to which he carried on before I could reply, “Let me guess, a professional couple, both in their 30’s, flawlessly tidy, pays their rent early, doesn’t complain or fuss, who has no plans to move and cheerfully accepts annual rent rises”.

Before I can answer that question properly, I have always believed all a landlord wants (and expects) of their tenants is to pay their rent on time and look after the property as if it were their own. In return, the landlord should provide a property that is warm, clean, modern and damp free and sort any issues (such as repairs) quickly and without fuss. 

Back to the tenants – tenants tend to fall into several groups ... 20 something professionals; young and middle aged families; corporate tenants (this is where the employer finds their employee a property to live in); students; older singles/couples and housing benefit claimants – and they come with different needs and wants. Choosing who best suits your Medway property – and steering clear of bad tenants – is a huge factor in making property investment a success.

One topic that I am often asked is should they, as a landlord, accept tenants on housing benefit?

It might interest the landlords of Medway that of the 16,627 private rented properties in the local council area, 56.8% of the tenants of those properties are on some form of housing benefit.
(That is 9,460 properties to be exact!)

I know many landlords have suffered late rent payments with tenants on benefit, especially since 2008, when local authorities started paying housing benefit to tenants rather than directly to the landlords, but you can’t ignore the fact that housing benefit tenants make up a significant proportion of the Medway rental population. My opinion is that the final choice of accepting such tenants has to be the landlords but you can’t tar every tenant with the same brush (I will always give you a balanced opinion if ever asked).

Interestingly, it might surprise some readers of the Medway Property Blog, when we compare Medway to the national picture . Medway’s Housing benefit claimants are higher, as nationally a lower proportion of private tenants claim the benefit. Nationally, 39.2% of the tenants of the 3,891,467 rental properties in Great Britain claim some form of housing benefit (ie 1,526,915 properties).

Now, let us look at the occupations of Medway tenants, which makes even more fascinating reading. Of the 16,627 privately rented properties in the Medway area, 11,492 head tenants (the head tenant being classified as the head of the household) are in employment (the other 5,135 rental property head tenants either being retired, long term sick, students or job seekers).

Splitting those 11,492 head tenants down into their relevant professions, 3,410 of them are Managers, Directors, Senior Officials, Professional or Technical Professions, 1,062 in Administrative and secretarial occupations, 1,658 in Skilled Trades, 1,094 in the Caring, Leisure and other service occupations, 954 Sales and Customer Service Occupations, 1,345 Process, Plant and Machine Operatives and finally, 1,969 in Elementary Occupations.

The one thing I have always known anecdotally, but until I did my research, never had anything to back it up with, was the high proportion of professionals and skilled trades renting property in Medway – intriguing! Maybe in future articles, I will look deeper into the corporate tenant market, young and middle aged families, students and older persons rental markets.... but in the meantime, if you want more news, views and commentary about the Medway property market, there are many similar articles like this on my Medway Property Blog

Spencer Fortag

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