How to Avoid Common Pitfalls of Language Barriers

Sourced North London / July 4, 2019

Tags: BlogLanguage



When it comes to which tenants you choose to rent out your buy to let to, it is illegal to discriminate against a prospective individual due to race, creed, religion, age, sex or sexual orientation. Neither can you refuse to rent to an individual or family with children for fear the latter will wreck your property.

Understandably, the law is there to protect an individual’s rights. But in the case of a male or female from an overseas country, who doesn’t speak English and wants to rent, it can lead to translation issues for a landlord. Difficulties with understanding the tenancy agreement and lease etc. could lead to headaches for both sides later down the line.

This is why in such cases, it is perfectly acceptable to hire a translator in that individual’s ‘mother tongue’- and at their cost, provided they agree to this beforehand.

This way, if you do rent out your property to that individual, he or she will understand what is expected of them as tenants, and what they can expect you, as their landlord, to provide for them. It’s always a good idea too to get the agreed tenants to sign each page of any official document once it has been translated to them in order to show that it has been explained to them in their mother tongue and that they understood and agreed to it. That way if something does go wrong further down the line, the tenant won’t be able to claim ignorance due to their language difficulty (not that this happens often, but it is a good way of safeguarding yourself as a landlord, were the issue to become a legal/official matter).

Always use a translator with qualifications

It makes sense to ensure that the translator you use is officially recognised (and not a son/daughter or other family member). Again, this helps to avoid any ambiguity and proves any documents were translated correctly.

In the event that you’re tempted to skip the translator part, be aware that Google Translate is not a wise choice. Although good for basic understanding, software tends not to be precise enough for a legal tenancy document. Nor will general software programmes pick up much of the particular jargon and terms centred around property.

These days, most large rental organisations and local authorities are statutorily required to print out translated leaflets in several languages for prospective tenants. Fortunately individual landlords have no such legal obligation.

Other tenancy situations and language problems

Of course, it’s not just when it comes to understanding the lease and tenancy agreement that difficulties with language can arise. There is also the issue of ongoing maintenance. At which point, a translator may once again be required. At this stage, it might be possible for the tenant to contact a charity such as Citizens Advice for help or to get a recommendation from their local authority, despite the property being privately rented.



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Tags: BlogLanguage

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