Landlord and tenant: tips on managing relationships

You may have a great eye for investment and rental yields, but are you able to build a good landlord and tenant rapport? Are you a people person?

Landlord and tenant: specificity terms

At the beginning of a tenancy, it’s important to make sure that both landlord and tenant are fully aware of their obligations. This is often the basis of any issue between the two parties, so get it right from the start.

Sit down and go through the contract with tenants at the start. Otherwise, simply pick up the main points so they’re clear of their obligations and rights.

For example, if you’re letting a freehold house and the tenant is responsible for the upkeep of front and back gardens, point that out to the tenant.

It is important for landlords to be clear on how they want to run their letting business. Get the terms properly laid out so that tenants are clear and everything is transparent.

Keep lines of communication open

Make sure the tenant is communicating directly with you with regards to issues and not tradesmen you send over to the property. Communication should be direct.

Communication is vital, particularly in regard to repairs and maintenance. A diligent, good landlord may face an issue when fixing things where a part can’t be delivered for a day or two. In that case, always keep the tenant up-to-date on fixing problems. In fact, some tenants can be sensitive about these kinds of issues.

Respond quickly to repairs

Any experienced landlord has an abundance of tradesmen who would turn up instantly to fix problems. One of the big issues we get on the Advice Line is where landlords haven’t responded quickly enough to tenants’ problems. Build up a stock of reliable tradespeople who you can call on and who’ll respond quickly to issues. Let tenants know what you are going to do when, and do it quickly.

This encourages longevity because the tenants build up trust in you and your work as a landlord.

Dealing with financial issues

Always tell your tenants to communicate with you if there is a property related issue. So, they know you are available to talk to if they’ve lost their job or think they’ll be late with the rent payment.

Try to sit down for a coffee with them, if not speak on the phone and then always follow-up with an e-mail and sum up to the conversation you had on an e-mail.

If they would prefer to meet at a neutral location then that’s a good option too. Buy them a coffee and cake. You’ll be able to see the nuances of the situation more clearly than you would via email.

Meet in person

It’s always better to meet face-to-face with tenants where possible. An initial phone call may be a good start, but it’s better if you can meet in person. In fact, ultimately the rental business is a people business.

The body language of a person will give more away than a half-hour phone call. The tone of their voices and pauses in a conversation will make any mistruths or omissions obvious. Psychology is everything in this business.

When things go wrong

Even the most diligent of landlords will at some point face a difficult situation in the private rented sector. Perhaps the tenant has breached the contract, or they’re in rent arrears. Whatever the situation, I always recommend disagreeing in an agreeable way. You will probably face a personality clash and never wish to see the tenant again. However, while you are dealing with an issue, do it as carefully and as kindly as possible.

For example, if on one of your landlord visits you find a broken door but the tenant says his brother did it and so he’s not responsible, kindly point out the legal position is that the tenant is liable, whoever broke the door.

Point out on letters or emails that you are hopeful that between yourself and the tenant, this issue can be resolved amicably and in a way that benefits all.

Never use threatening or aggressive language to a tenant. If you do and it does go to court, there’s a strong likelihood that the judge will favour the tenant.

Lastly, when corresponding on sensitive matters, emphasis all the points on which you agree rather than those you don’t agree on.

Have a backup plan

Always have procedures planned in advance should the situation become irreconcilable. If you have to serve a Section 21 eviction notice or a Section 8, try to make sure that you know what you’re doing in advance. This includes the legal process, paper trail and having all necessary documents ready. Some landlords even get guarantors involved immediately where necessary.

What is West London Property Networking

If you have any questions on property management, please contact Pelin Martin to book a 30-minute free consultation on +0208 994 7327 – pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk

Renting to students: rules and tips

If you’re interested in renting to students, there are a few points to consider:

Clear Communication

Set out clear guidelines for all student tenancies and make sure you establish concrete deadlines for signing contracts, paying deposits and first rent instalments. Once you’ve found suitable tenants make sure they sign contracts well in advance of the tenancy start date. Make sure the lead tenant signs the tenancy agreement well in advance. If the student fails to sign soon the landlord will find it extremely difficult to secure alternative tenants with just weeks to go before the first term of university begins, resulting in a significant loss of earnings for the year.

HMO Licensing change

Guarantors

In the case of students, a parent is usually a guarantor. When you’re renting to students, you need to make sure that everyone, including guarantors, read and sign tenancy contracts and all the necessary documentation.

Try to complete this well in advance of the start date of the tenancy agreement. In fact, you’ll likely need a guarantor for each individual in the property and this will take time to organise.

It’s also important to make sure guarantors are UK-based. Otherwise, if problems arise with rent arrears, it would be near impossible to get any money back.

Assured Shorthold Tenancies

House Instructions

First-year students, in particular, may not have lived away from home before. Therefore, they may not be familiar with the general running of a home. Make sure you supply copies of instruction booklets for the household appliances: make sure they are not originals that none should lose. Make sure to speak with the lead tenant through the basics of maintaining a home such as opening windows to air the house, not to dry excessive amounts of washing inside the house to avoid damp occurring, etc.

How to be a landlord and manage my property?

Lead Tenant

Try to have one spokesperson for the whole property rather than dealing with five or six different individuals. This will smoothen the communications between the landlord and tenants.

Section 24 of income tax

Which Contract?

There are typically two types of contracts for student lets, and both have their advantages and disadvantages.

  • joint and severally liable contracts: these is easier to manage because it means in contract law that two or more people promise to do the same thing and also separately promise to do the same thing. It means that you’ll only need one deposit and one contract. If one person drops out during the year, the rest of the tenants will still be liable for the full rent.How to manage tenancy deposit disputes?
  • individual room let contracts are potentially more lucrative, but more complex. Landlords will need a contract for each individual. They will be liable for council tax, and in some cases other bills, too. This kind of contract does, however, offer some flexibility, so if there’s a problem tenant it’s easier to deal with without disrupting the other tenants.

What is West London Property Networking

If you’re renting to students or for any other property management question, please contact Pelin Martin to book a 30-minute free consultation on +0208 994 7327 – pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk

HMO Legislation Change

Will the changes to mandatory HMO Legislation in England hit you, too?

In 2006, the government introduced the mandatory HMO Legislation (Houses in Multiple Occupation) in England and Wales. From October this year, the government is also extending the scope of the HMO Legislation in England.

It used to only apply to properties of at least 3-storey housing and at least 5 people from 2 or more households.

Instead, from October on, the regulation covers all properties that house 5 or more people from more than 2 households, whatever the building size.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says this is to create

“a level playing field between landlords, so the rogue landlords cease to be able to operate substandard accommodation”.

Rogue landlords are across the board, not just in HMO properties. Mandatory HMO Legislation is about safety, making sure there were fire escapes and that tenants can get out in an emergency.

What are the best commuter areas for investment properties?

How does the HMO Legislation work?

For example, In Hammersmith and Fulham, where many landlords are under the HMO Legislation, those who let properties to just 3 or more people from separate households already need a licence.
And on certain streets in the London Boroughs which deemed antisocial behaviour as a problem, all landlords need a licence. The Government is acting to protect tenants and make sure landlords have a level playing field.

The new rules will supposedly bring 177,000 new properties into mandatory licensing, affecting thousands of landlords. It’s difficult to estimate the added cost to landlords. In fact, the licence fees are fixed by local authorities and vary significantly across the UK from £300 in Suffolk to £1,100 in Ealing. Section 24 Income tax changes

Minimum room sizes for these properties as a means of addressing “overcrowding, which is a serious problem and increases fire risk”.

Landlords often offer these smaller rooms at a discount for tenants. If these rooms are taken out of use, the discounted room is gone. Also, chances are that it will force rents up in the other rooms in the house to cover the lost rent.
There’s also the question of what happens to the undersized room. If the landlord leaves it vacant, there’s a high chance the tenants might sublet it and the landlord would be hard pushed to find out. How to be a landlord and manage my property?

Some landlords are converting the small rooms that do not fit in the regulations into en-suite bathrooms for one of the bedrooms. It means less revenue, but rules are rules. On the whole, these regulations are good for fire, health and safety of the tenants. How to find good tenants?

The greatest impact of the new HMO Legislation will be for landlords who have bought their property on a buy-to-let mortgage and then rented it out as an HMO. This will create further administrative burdens for buy-to-let investors and local authorities. Also, it will make accessing finance more challenging as a number of mainstream lenders are reluctant to lend against licensable properties.

Lenders who offer mortgages to landlords that are not currently licensed under the HMO Legislation, but will be under the new rules, can change their criteria to factor in these properties. Landlords need to be on top of their licences and their paperwork. Any landlord who needs a licence but hasn’t applied for one by 1 October could be liable to prosecution and large fines. Local authorities will be responsible for overseeing the changes. So, it’s likely prosecutions and fines will again vary widely between councils.

Expenses you can offset against as a landlord

What the HMO Legislation changes will mean for landlords

  • You need an HMO licence if you let a property to 5 or more tenants from 2 or more households. The building size does not matter.
  • All bedrooms will have a minimum room size. For a single room, this is 6.51 square metres. For a double, it is 10.22 square metres. Landlords have up to 18 months to comply with this.
  • Landlords will have to provide suitable facilities for rubbish storage and disposal as stipulated by their local authority.
  • A licence is valid for five years and each property under HMO Legislation requires a separate licence.
  • Any landlord who hasn’t applied for a new licence by 1 October 2018 will be in breach of the law.

What is West London Property Networking

Please contact Pelin Martin to book a 30-minute free property consultation on +0208 994 7327 – pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk

Where to invest in property: the best commuter areas of London

If you’re thinking of where to invest in property, you may want to explore the best commuter areas for your purchase.

Here’s a list of tips. Keep in mind to focus on the areas that are within 30 minutes commute to Central London.

Leyton – Central Line, 23 minutes travel

Leyton has long been a popular spot for tenants, with access to the Central Line. Also, the area has grown over the last few years, with many shops and proximity to the Olympic Park which has been completely re-developed. As a consequence, it offers plenty of shops, eateries and green spaces.

Rental yields in Leyton are at 4.3%.

Camden – Northern Line and Overground, 11 minutes travel

Camden is an ever-popular area of London. In fact, there are shops and bars, the Camden Lock Market and Regent’s Park, all within walking distance. For this reason, this is a great place to live in. With great Underground connections too, residents can commute quickly and easily around London.

Rental yields in Camden are at 3.8%.

Brixton – Victoria Line, 12 minutes travel

Sat in the buzzing and vibrant heart of South London is Brixton. Thanks to its quick transport connections to Central London, Brixton offers residents a fun and community-led area to live, with plenty of bars and clubs. Also, for some peace and quiet, Brockwell Park and Lido are nearby. In fact, this is a popular area for tenants and offers good rental yields for landlords looking to invest here.

Rental yields in Brixton are at 4.3%.

Peckham – Overground, rail and bus, 30 minutes travel

With full of independent businesses and eateries, this is a popular spot for tenants. Transport links are a little further away here but commuters can still be in town within half an hour. Property investment here is a great option as the property will always be sought-after.

Rental yields in Peckham are at 4.4%.

Acton – Central, District, Piccadilly Lines, and Overground, 19 minutes travel

Acton sits in a popular spot for commuters both into London and out to Shepherd’s Bush. An area of independent shops and open green spaces, this is a popular spot for families and professional couples. This is a good area to invest as people are always in search of a quieter side of London and Acton offers this.

Rental yields in Acton are at 3.8%.

Walthamstow – Victoria Line and Overground, 21 minutes travel

This East London area has become more popular over the last few years, due to property prices offering you more for your money, as well as short commuting times into Central London. With a strong presence of young families, this is a great area to invest in a larger property in order to cater for house shares or families looking to rent in this area.

Rental yields in Walthamstow are at 4.6%.

Mile End – Central Line, 18 minutes travel

Mile End has long been a popular area to rent, being sat between The City, Shoreditch and Canary Wharf for commuters, as well as close to the university and the hospital here. With fast and reliable transport networks and proximity to Victoria Park and Stratford Westfields, this is a great area to invest as people are constantly moving to the area.

Rental yields in Mile End are at 4.4%.

Stratford – Central, DLR, Jubilee Lines, Overground and rail links, 21 minutes travel

Just further out than Mile End, Stratford has a number of new property developments, so there’s plenty of property available. This is a popular location for tenants, having great transport links and loads of shops, eateries and green spaces at Westfields and around the Olympic Park. Stratford is a busy and thriving area for those who want to be close to all the amenities they need.

Rental yields in Stratford are at 4.7%.

West Kensington – District Line, 21 minutes travel

With stunning Victorian terraces and gastro pubs lining the streets of West Kensington, this is a stunning area to live, and a great area to invest, with high yields for this side of London. A popular area which is cheaper than its neighbors, West Kensington also offers good transport links into and around London and a relaxed and pleasant area to live, making it an attractive neighborhood to tenants.

Rental yields in West Kensington are at 3.6%.

Stockwell – Northern and Victoria Lines, 12 minutes travel

Stockwell is a popular area, sat just above Clapham and only 10 minutes from Central London. Location benefits Stockwell with Clapham’s shops, eateries and the Common on your doorstep but a slightly closer location into town. Lined with Victorian terraces, house shares are prevalent here so investing in a slightly larger property is probably a good idea.

Rental yields in Stockwell are at 3.8%.

Read more: Top 10 property investment tips

What is West London Property Networking

Please contact Pelin Martin to book a 30-minute free property consultation on +0208 994 7327 – pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk