Professional Properties serve landlords and tenants across the Derby and Burton on Trent areas and take enormous pride in our reputation for looking after our clients.
During these last 20 plus years running a lettings and property management agency, there’s not much we haven’t experienced.
These 12 top tips are things that every landlord, regardless of the size of their portfolio, needs to know and understand.
Choose your agent very carefully
If you haven’t made up your mind which, if any, agent you are going to trust your property with then this is the big one! This is probably your biggest and most important decision.
Look at the agent’s track record and maybe ask to speak with landlords they work with.
Check the property portals to see what their property adverts look like and check their social media to see how active they are; massively important nowadays.
Check their website and look for advertised fees, industry memberships and services offered.
Above all choose an agent with experience, professionalism and one you feel you can have a positive and mutually beneficial working relationship with.
Price your property competitively
In order to secure the best tenant, ideally you need to have several applicants chomping at the bit to rent your property.
Good quality applicants not only look for a property to suit their individual requirements, they tend to look for ‘value for money’ too. They very rarely have an open ended budget to get the right property so be careful not to price good applicants out of your market.
However, rents are on the increase and your asking rent should be dictated by market forces and not by a gut feeling!
Pay a great deal of attention to the legal side of the business, and letting a property is a business. The private rental sector is very legislatively focused and even the smallest of things that go wrong can come back to haunt you and potentially lead to fines and penalties so it is vital you are aware and well informed.
There are over 170 pieces of legislation that govern the private rental sector!
Be ready for unexpected costs
You always need to budget for unexpected expenditure on the property as well as for void periods. It is a good idea is to have a ‘slush fund’ to pay for those maintenance issues that come out of the blue. Many landlords that we deal with have set up a separate bank account in which they put away a percentage of the rental income each month to build up a pot of money for unexpected costs.
Landlords who do not have the finances in place to survive void periods and are often under pressure to let to tenants quickly and without the proper referencing procedures.
In our experience, specialist landlord insurance is a must. We emphasise the word ‘specialist’ as normal household insurance won’t cover for many letting related issues.
The quality of policies and what they cover vary enormously. Like many things in life, the cheapest option is rarely the best and is cheap for a reason.
Insurance policies not only give you peace of mind but when they are needed can save you time, money and a lot of hassle.
There are two main types of protection that are necessary; a good Building and Contents policy and a Rent Guarantee policy.
You can find more detail on what specialist landlord insurance covers HERE
Details of what you should expect a good Rent Guarantee policy to cover can be found HERE
British Gas Homecare
A policy such as British Gas Homecare can offer the assurance of one cost per year covering parts and labour as well as the assurance of a prompt response at all times of year.
Independent contractors are often in high demand when the weather turns cold and may not be able to attend for several days. A cold tenant is a very dissatisfied tenant, especially where there are young children.
One word of warning though; in our experience, British Gas are awful when it comes to our next subject… Gas Safety Certificates.
Use Gas and Electric Experts
A Gas Safety Certificate is required on an annual basis and, from 1st July 2020, an Electrical Safety certificate is also required every five years.
If you are arranging these yourself, ensure that the contractors are properly qualified and reliable (British Gas are a nightmare to deal with on Gas Safety Certificates!)
These are both legal requirements and failure to keep up to date with these can lead to prosecution.
Meet your Tenant in Person
Not always possible for a busy landlord but highly recommended if not using an agent. Try to meet your tenant before signing on the dotted line. It’s important that you feel comfortable with the long-term relationship you are about to embark upon.
Cheap is Rarely Cheerful
When carrying out repairs/refurbishments, don’t necessarily go for the cheapest options. Poor quality materials usually have a short lifespan and will cost you more in repairs and early replacement later on. It’s usually more economical to go for better quality materials that will last considerably longer and prove a wiser investment.
We have a very detailed blog on how to get your property ready for the rental market HERE
Protect your Money
When instructing an agent to represent you, check that they have Client Money Protection insurance.
If things go wrong and your agent can’t or won’t pass on your rent to you, you could end up losing that money without this vital insurance.
Understand your Tenancy Agreement
Firstly, ensure that the tenancy agreement you are using is compliant with up to date regulations. A free agreement found on Google is invariably not worth the digital monitor it is displayed on!
Read the tenancy agreement in detail. Check that it is appropriate to your property and your circumstances and understand yours and the tenants responsibilities.
If you have any questions a good agent will have no issue in answering them and being fully transparent.
Choose Legal Advice Wisely
If engaging a lawyer for legal advice, ensure that they have in-depth knowledge of this very specialised industry.
Over the years we’ve heard stories of solicitors taking clients’ money claiming to know what they are doing and then going on to make a complete mess of it.
This can be a very frustrating and expensive experience for the landlord and is one that can be avoided by doing some research and obtaining recommendations.
Thanks for reading and if you have any other property related questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we’d love to help you.