Tips For First-Time Landlords
Whether you’ve found yourself in a position to become a landlord or whether you’ve purchased yourself a buy-to-let property, it can be a whirlwind of excitement and nerves. It isn’t something that should be rushed or done half-heartedly.
Part of being a landlord is taking responsibility for the property that someone lives in. You also have a responsibility to find the right person to rent it out to. Unfortunately, there is plenty that can go wrong.
That being said, being a landlord can be hugely rewarding. There is a lot to be aware of though - here are a few of the basics.
Screen your tenants thoroughly and professionally
When you put your property on the rental market, you will probably find that a huge range of people will be interested in putting in an offer. This is where the screening process comes in. The screening process exists to ensure that you find the right kind of tenant to trust with your property.
A huge part of your success as a landlord is finding the right kind of tenant. At least for your first few tenancies, it’s wise to play it safe and avoid tenants with bad credit scores and criminal records. Of course, these factors don’t necessarily mean that someone will be a bad tenant. A bad credit score could simply be a result of being young without any loans or credit to your name yet. And a criminal record can be years old.
When screening tenants, it’s important to be aware of the things that you cannot reject someone over. You cannot reject someone due to the ‘protected characteristics’; nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or religion. You also cannot reject someone due to their marital status, being pregnant or their age.
Take out landlord insurance
There is no legal obligation to take out landlord insurance, however, your mortgage lender will probably insist you have cover before they give you the green light to take tenants on. Your home insurance policy will not be enough to protect you against rented activities.
You can compare landlord insurance to make sure that you are getting the best policy available to you at the best price. Take a look at property owner’s liability insurance, contents insurance and buy-to-let buildings cover. Especially as a first-time landlord, you will appreciate having good cover more than ever to safeguard you against things going wrong.
Spend time on your tenancy agreement
For every tenancy, there is a tenancy agreement. This will become the holy grail of your tenancy. It’s the document that you will turn to if and when things go wrong that details everything that was agreed upon at the start of the tenancy.
It’s important to get such an important document to get right if you are putting it together yourself. You will need to include details on the amount of rent due and when in the month it is due by, and things like subletting and no smoking clauses. There are plenty of templates online that you can use as a basis, but make sure that you are using a UK-based one.
Always collect your rent
Remember, your rent is your revenue. Without the rent payments that cover your mortgage, you won’t get anywhere. Make it clear from the get-go that paying the rent is the least that your tenant can do and missing payments will be taken really seriously.
Even if it does not come naturally to you, make sure you put your foot down with late rent and collect it when it is due. On the other hand, you also need to ensure that you are remaining open and personable so that if your tenant is having an issue with getting the rent together, they feel that they can come to you in advance to explain their situation and hopefully resolve it with you in good time. You may be able to get a three-month rent holiday if your tenant has for instance lost their job and cannot meet the rent payments.
Landlords get a bit of a bad reputation. It’s so important to respect your tenants, keep them comfortable and resolve their issues quickly and efficiently in order to win their trust and respect in return. After all, if you have happy tenants then you’ll be in for an unproblematic ride as a landlord.
It’s always worth going the extra mile as a landlord. Perhaps leave your tenants a little welcome bundle or a small gift when they move into your property, and send them a little something at Christmas and/or their birthdays. Be careful not to be too overbearing though - there’s a fine line between being friendly and being overbearing.
This is a collaborative post. Please view my disclosure policy for more details