IT PAYS TO BE HELPFUL
If you’re going into the buy-to-let business, then aiming to be a model landlord will only reap bigger rewards. Property is business, and the better you are at it the more successful you’ll be. Plus, well… it feels great to be a good landlord.
HOW TO BE A GREAT LANDLORD
Being a model landlord is not just a case of providing tenants with a roof over their head. There will more than likely be maintenance issues involved and they’ll need tackling before, during and after you let the property. This makes communication an essential asset.
When it comes to managing a property there are two essential areas to navigate: negotiating legal matters and maintaining good relationships. Being able to listen to your tenant and hear their needs is imperative, and it works both ways. Conveying your requirements in a calm and positive way will encourage your needs to be well met.
Managing the legal side of things means ensuring you have:
- a good tenancy agreement
- regular safety checks
- solid insurance
In order to keep on top of relations, it pays to:
- make sure the property is ready to rent
- respond to tenant enquiries efficiently
- manage the property effectively
GETTING YOUR PROPERTY READY TO RENT
We’re not just talking about giving the place a good clean (although that’s important too). These days, tenants expect a property to feel like home from the moment they walk in.
It’s fairly easy to prepare your property with modern working amenities. Rental-ready properties come with high-speed internet connection, basic amenities like dishwashers and washing machines, working extraction fans in bathrooms and kitchens and fitted utilities like microwaves and over-counter lights.
Tenants will expect outside areas to be secure, easy to clean and well lit at night. Consider supplying a barbecue, repointing stonework and giving the lawn a trim before a tenant moves in. If the grass is to be well maintained, fit an outside tap so the tenant can take care of lawns and pots. Finally, a secure garden shed with a good lock and plenty of space for storage will be an added bonus.
DRAW UP A GOOD TENANCY AGREEMENT
You may be surprised to hear it, but a tenancy agreement is not a legal requirement. That said, having one in place will be essential in the long run, should circumstances arise.
Most landlords take out an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST), which covers rental legislation. Make sure you include all adults in the tenancy agreement, and get everyone to sign it.
CARRY OUT REGULAR SAFETY CHECKS
Safety checks and energy EPCs are a standard necessity for landlords, who must ensure that all gas appliances, pipe work and flues are in safe working order. To ensure this, a gas safety check must be carried out every year by a Gas Safe engineer (any respectable plumber/gas operator will be Gas Safe qualified).
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
This report outlines the energy efficiency of your property, using a graded rating system that goes from A (the most efficient grading) down to G (the least efficient grading). Since 1 April 2018 it has been a legal requirement for landlords to ensure their rental properties in England and Wales are rated with a minimum EPC grading of E for new tenancies and renewals.
As of 1 April 2020, requirements changed again, so that all existing tenancies must now have a minimum EPC rating of E – not just new ones or renewals.
Getting the rating carried out before you market your property is essential, as prospective tenants must view it BEFORE a tenancy agreement is created. You need to be able to display the EPC to tenants during viewings.
Stay on top of maintenance issues that need to be addressed. Regularly inspecting the condition of your property helps prevent smaller maintenance tasks from becoming bigger issues. Remember to always seek your tenant’s permission when carrying out inspections.
TAKE OUT THE RIGHT INSURANCE
Insurance falls into several categories:
Buildings insurance: This protects the bricks and mortar of your property. You need it for protection against flood, fire or similar damage.
Contents insurance: Landlords who have a furnished buy-to-let property need this insurance to cover their possessions in the event of theft or accidental damage.
Liability insurance: Landlords should consider taking this out as an addition to their policy. It is often a requirement if you offer student or social housing, and it covers a landlord against tenants suing for an accident that occurs on your property.
Other insurances to consider include legal expenses insurance and home emergency cover.
RESPOND TO ENQUIRIES
Good tenants are worth their weight in gold. Once you’ve found suitable renters, you won’t want them to move out. Making sure you respond swiftly to maintenance requests is a short-term chore for long-term gains. Be accessible and keep the lines of communication open. This will help reduce misunderstandings and prevent small issues developing into something more serious.