Being a landlord sounds like a simple enough job; find a good buy-to-let opportunity, let it to some good tenants and collect the rental income each month.
However, as a landlord, you have a number of responsibilities to your tenants, many of them legal requirements, which can make the job more complicated than you might’ve first imagined.
To help you out, our very own Peter Lee, who is responsible to Redbrik Lettings, has prepared this guide which outlines some of the key considerations you should be ticking off your checklist as you become a new landlord, plus some useful information for existing landlords too!
1: As a first step I would always recommend talking to a letting agent about which areas and types of property which would be ideal for letting. I know this sounds suspect, but genuinely we won’t only recommend the properties for sale with us! At Redbrik we are happy to search the entire market and find a property that will be in high demand and suit your needs.
2: Once you have bought the property it is your responsibility to get it in great condition ready for your Tenants. Successful Landlords will spend money on a good kitchen and bathroom. Double glazing is a must, and the house must be freshly decorated with good carpets. There must be no sign of damp or poor quality workmanship. If you have bought an apartment, then it is probably necessary to furnish with the main items. If it is a house then we are finding the trend is to leave it unfurnished, though we would recommend leaving in the main appliances in the kitchen such as integrated hob and oven plus a fridge/freezer and a washing machine.
3: Viewings are an important part of the process. At Redbrik we offer you the opportunity to meet potential applicants at viewings but if you prefer we will take care of all viewings on your behalf.
We believe a lot can be learned when you meet someone and we can try to understand if the applicant is the right fit for the property and the Tenant.
We will always carry out full references on the applicants but meeting people will tell you about their personalities.
4: Detailed references for tenants are essential – our service includes a full credit check as well employment and Landlord references. Once we have this information our staff will analyse the results before putting together a full picture for our Landlords.
This is where we go the extra mile and we will look to see not only is some employed but how long they have been in the job, what sort of security does the job give, what are applicants expenditure habits.
This gives us a better understanding than just a simple credit check.
5: Time must be given to a thorough sign up appointment to go through the Tenancy Agreement. I have heard of too many Tenants who have no idea what they have agreed as this part has been rushed.
At Redbrik we spend time going through all the various clauses in the Tenancy Agreement and that their rent should always be their first priority. We will go through the gas and electrical certificates, ensure they have seen an EPC, test smoke alarms, tell them about the inventory, give out emergency contact details and go through the Government Guide on How To Rent which talks about both Tenants and Landlords responsibilities.
6: To protect your property from Tenant damage it is essential to take a deposit or bond and this is protected in an insurance based scheme or the Government DPS scheme.
When you let with Redbrik we usually take one and a quarter times the monthly rental amount as the deposit. We use the insurance based scheme called My|Deposits and this service is included in our fees.
7: We always recommend a full Condition Report (Inventory). This is a comprehensive report (over 60 pages of detail) documenting the condition of each room and its contents. The Tenant should sign the report so they agree to the condition and can be used at the end of the Tenancy to validate damage that might or might not have been there at the beginning.
8: Don’t forget about the utilities as they will need to know about the new Tenant and their start date so billing is now sent to them instead of the owner.
9: Once a Tenancy has started as a Landlord you can manage the property yourself or ask an agent to look after it for you. We believe that certain steps are essential to ensure a happy Tenant pays the rent consistently and that the property is kept in good condition.
Tenants should be encouraged to pay their rent by standing order. The rental income should be checked monthly and if not paid there are certain steps that must be carried out in the correct and formal manner.
This is where a lot of Landlords can fall foul to the law as legislation is constantly changing. If done incorrectly it will give the Tenants further rights and possibly cause harassment.
Maintenance must be acted on quickly and it is advised that you have certain contractors that you can call upon to handle gas, electrical and plumbing issues.
The law has recently changed to protect Tenants from being moved out when there is outstanding maintenance issues.
Therefore while it is important to act within the law it is also a factor to keeping your Tenant happy and is the main reason for Tenant moving out when things are not addressed.
Regular inspections should be carried out the ensure the property is kept in good condition and gives the Tenant the opportunity to raise any issues. These should not be done too often as to ‘harass’ your Tenant but quarterly or every six months is normal.
At the end of the Tenancy a thorough check out is required. Time should be given to go into each room and check the condition against the inventory that was done at the beginning of the Tenancy.