Guaranteed Rent: A Landlord's Complete Guide

Ross McColl
8 min read
Nov 27, 2023
Updated: Nov 27, 2023

The term 'guaranteed rent' alone is an enticing proposition for landlords. With decreasing demand for rental properties in major UK cities, and the pandemic leading to job losses and financial uncertainty, landlords are increasingly concerned about extended vacancies and rent arrears. This has sparked a growing interest in guaranteed rent schemes and their promised advantages, with providers claiming to offer consistent rental income and eliminate landlords' risks associated with vacancies, arrears, and evictions.

But what exactly are these schemes, and how do they operate? How do providers deliver on their promises, and at what cost? In this article, we delve into the details of rent-to-rent arrangements and conduct a cost-benefit analysis for inquisitive landlords.

What Is a Guaranteed Rent Scheme?

In a guaranteed rent scheme, also known as a rent-to-rent scheme, a landlord transfers their rental property to a company, institution, letting agent, or individual for a specified period in exchange for a fixed monthly income, irrespective of occupancy or tenant arrears. The entity renting the property then sublets it to tenants, taking responsibility for property management and tenancy matters. The tenants have no direct interaction with the landlord, and all dealings are handled by the intermediary tenant.

How Do These Schemes Operate?

In a rent-to-rent agreement, the intermediary tenant commits to paying a predetermined monthly sum to the landlord while assuming full control of property management. They manage tenant administration, handle maintenance tasks, ensure legal compliance, and manage legal proceedings if eviction becomes necessary. The intermediary tenant agrees to pay the landlord a guaranteed monthly rent, typically below market rates. Their success depends on generating sufficient rental income, often achieved by converting the property into a house in multiple occupations (HMO) and leasing individual rooms to unrelated tenants.

Who Offers Guaranteed Rent Schemes?

These schemes are provided by both public and private sector organizations:

  1. Local Authorities:

Many councils, especially in high-demand housing areas, offer these schemes to bolster their social housing supply. Under such arrangements, the council becomes the 'tenant,' using the property for housing vulnerable individuals, such as refugees and the homeless. Landlords receive a guaranteed monthly rental payment, professional property management, inspections, and guaranteed vacant possession at the lease's end. Some councils outsource these services to intermediary agents who liaise with private landlords, taking care of property management and maintenance.

  1. Lettings Agents or Rent-to-Rent Providers:

Many lettings agents, often smaller or independent, and commercial rent-to-rent services in the market offer such arrangements. Unlike council-run schemes, these for-profit services source tenants from the private rental sector through conventional property marketing channels. During the lease term, agents handle all aspects of property management, maintenance, and compliance, often providing additional services like interior design. In exchange, they guarantee a monthly payment to the landlord.

How Does a Guaranteed Rent Scheme Differ From Rent Guarantee Insurance?

Rent guarantee insurance is a form of landlord insurance that covers rent arrears and legal fees if tenants fail to pay. It applies when landlords have direct relationships with tenants, even if a property manager is involved. In a guaranteed rent scheme, landlords have no direct tenant relationship, and the intermediary tenant is responsible for rental payments regardless of occupancy or arrears. The intermediary tenant also handles arrears recovery and evictions.

What Are the Benefits of Guaranteed Rent Schemes?

Landlords are increasingly drawn to rent-to-rent alternatives for several reasons:

  • Hands-Off Approach: It's the least involved option for landlords who lack the time or desire to manage every aspect of the letting process.

  • Predictable Cash Flow: Provides a regular, predictable income with reduced risk of dealing with rent arrears.

  • Lower Risk of Legal Eviction: Reduces the likelihood of entering into legal eviction proceedings.

  • Reduced Property Maintenance Hassles: Minimizes the hassle of dealing with property damage and repairs.

  • Reliable Tenants (Local Authorities): Leasing through local authorities often means reliable 'tenants' that contribute positively to the community.

  • No Void Periods: Landlords receive payment from the intermediary tenant even during property vacancies, eliminating void periods.

The value proposition of guaranteed rent schemes is particularly appealing to landlords with past experiences of arrears and evictions. However, these schemes are not entirely risk-free, as discussed below.

What Are the Risks and Drawbacks?

Despite promises to spare landlords from vacancies, arrears, and evictions, significant risks persist for those entering commercial rent-to-rent agreements:

  1. Ongoing Legal Liability: Landlords may still be legally liable, even if compliance responsibilities are delegated to a third party. Violations, such as running an unlicensed HMO or failing to meet safety requirements, can result in fines.

  2. Inappropriate Contracts: Incorrect contract types can lead to complications. Rent-to-rent agreements should be formalized as commercial leases, not residential ASTs. Careful contract review is essential.

  3. Mortgage, Lease, or Insurance Policy Terms: Landlords should check whether their mortgage, head lease and insurance policies permit guaranteed rent schemes. Breach of these terms can lead to trouble.

  4. Financial Stability of Providers: Some companies offering guaranteed rent schemes may lack sufficient financial backing. If they fail to rent the property at a high enough rate or face long vacancies, they may struggle to meet guaranteed payments.

  5. Loss of Potential Profit: Landlords often sacrifice potential profit margins for the stability of guaranteed payments. Monthly income received under such arrangements is typically lower than direct tenancies.

Landlords should carefully consider these risks and weigh them against the benefits when evaluating guaranteed rent schemes.

What Are the Alternatives?

For landlords aiming to maximize revenue, minimize voids and arrears, and maintain distance from day-to-day tenancy operations, a combination of professional property management and rent guarantee insurance can be a viable alternative.

In the face of growing interest in guaranteed rent schemes, Link Property, a proptech company, is transforming the property letting process. Using proprietary technology and data-driven marketing, Link Property significantly reduces property listing times at a fraction of traditional agent costs. Their online platform offers transparency, allowing clients to track the entire process. With their revamped property management service, Link Property manages the entire tenancy cycle, including renewals, at no extra cost. Landlords maintain control while benefiting from professional management.

Link Property offers a hybrid lettings solution that enhances the rental process. Their landlord platform, The Property Wallet, provides tenant-finding and property management services at an affordable monthly fee, eliminating costly upfront charges. Services include free rent collection, arrears management, real-time updates, and more.

To learn how Link Property can assist with your property needs or to initiate the process, contact them via their website or schedule a free valuation.

For additional landlord advice and updates on industry standards, market insights, and company news, follow Link Property on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.