There’s a lot goes on ‘behind the scenes’ when letting a property and some landlords, who’ve perhaps chosen to ‘do it alone’ or have opted for a Tenant Find only service, might think it’s just about getting a property, a tenant and then receiving their rent. If that’s the case, they might be in for a surprise, and why we’re providing five top tips to help them in understanding what else they need to consider.
Keep dates in your diary for the renewal of safety certificates and make routine visits (approximately every six months) to check safety aspects.
As a landlord you have to ensure that your property is safe and meets minimum safety standards or you could risk fines, imprisonment as well as the safety and well-being of your tenants. There’s regulations relating to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, gas safety and furnishings as well as a requirement that all electric items are in good working order and safe to use; not just at the start of the tenancy but over time too. Remember too that you have to give advance notice to the tenant if you plan to visit the property to check on its condition.
Make sure you keep records of rent that have been paid.
It will be your responsibility to agree how much, and how often, you rent is paid and how the tenant will pay this. Ideally this ‘arrangement’ will run smoothly but, if not, you’ll need evidence of the measures you’ve taken if challenged and possibly to support you in court.
Keep an ongoing check on the condition of your property and encourage your tenant to report maintenance issues as soon as possible – to avoid any long lasting damage.
Routine visits will, again, help in this and should satisfy you that the property is being well-maintained and that there are no underlying problems. It’s also a good idea to have a list of reputable suppliers who’ll be able to help you and, importantly, that they have an ‘out of hours’ service available should an urgent repair be needed.
Understand what to do if your tenant fails to pay their rent – and what their rights might be
Should your tenant fail to pay their rent, and perhaps gets into rent arrears, you’ll need to understand how to recover the debt and what to do if the tenant’s finances continue to be a problem. There are strict rules that apply about serving notice to tenants and it’s not always easy. Get it wrong and you could be accused of carrying out an illegal eviction and face criminal prosecution as a result. Tenants have rights and you need to know them.
Keep communications open – and written records
Often communication is key to the success of letting a property and, in the absence of a letting agent to act as a ‘go-between’, it’s really important that you develop a good relationship with your tenant especially for those times when things might not go according to plan. A tenant facing financial difficulty, or perhaps one who wants to change their tenancy to include a pet, for example, is more likely to approach their landlord to discuss their situation as opposed to trying to hide the ‘problem’ or concern. You should then be able to work together in resolving the issue for the benefit of both of you. Where there’s been some agreements reached, it’s also advisable to keep written records of these so that both you, and your tenant, have clear records of these should, in the worst case scenario, something go wrong.
Overall there’s various reasons why landlords choose to manage a property themselves, some thinking it’s easy or that they will be saving money on agency fees by taking this route, but sometimes it’s worth weighing up all the options beforehand. Being a landlord can be great but many also accept it can be hard work and, ultimately, taking time to understand what’s involved – and perhaps opting for support from a letting agent - really could be worth it.
If you’d like to find out how Reeds Rains can help you as a landlord, why not contact one of our branches or find out more about our services on our website because, as the UK’s Best Large Lettings Agency, we’re confident that we can help you.