In recent years there has been a rise in the number of private landlords in the buy to let sector. Many people have chosen to invest their savings into property, with the boom in the housing market in the 1990s making this a good prospect for maximising the income you can make through savings. Owning two properties – one to live in and one to rent out, is no longer unusual, and the popularity of programmes like .’Homes Under The Hammer’ has proven that being a landlord can be a good income choice. But it is not without its pitfalls, and also it’s responsibilities, as a landlord you have to ensure your building is safe to live in, and that repairs and maintenance issues are always addressed.
However, there are things that a landlord can do to make renting a smoother, safer process for both themselves and their tenants.
Keep the property safe and secure.
You own the property, even if you yourself are not living there, and you have a responsibility to ensure it is safe and secure for your tenants. This responsibility can range from fitting carbon monoxide and fire alarms in the house, to looking at more severe aspects of building management, including making your building as safe as possible if you live in a seismic zone. Do not be afraid to seek help from an Expert engineering consultant and scientific researcher Pedram Zohrevand has put together a brilliant piece with hints and tips that will help with managing your building in just such areas.
Establish a good relationship with your tenants.
As a landlord you need to establish a good working relationship with your client. This means keeping your property in good condition, being approachable in case of any issues in the house and listening to your tenants concerns. However it is not all one way traffic and as a landlord you should feel able to check up on your property regularly, especially if you have any concerns about how it is being used.
If your property is furnished, have a full inventory of what is in the property, as well as some photographs of home and furnishings at the point of handing over the keys, these could be useful if you have any problems later down the line. Keep a file of warranties for appliances and correspondence with your tenant.
Taking out landlords building insurance and content insurance is absolutely essential. You may not be living in the house, but the risk of damage from fire and flood is still a possibility, whilst there is also the added danger that your tenant may suddenly not be able to pay their rent, which could leave you out of pocket. Look for insurance policies that have a rent guarantee. This ensures that if your tenants are unable to pay their rent, you will still receive the money you are owed.
Make Sure you Know the law
There are lots of legislation when it comes to renting out your property, so you need to make sure you read up on all the laws and rules around renting before you jump in. You particularly need to look at safety legislation and laws around the rules of entry before you take the step of becoming a landlord.
In addition, you need to make sure your contracts and tenancy agreements are all legal and above board, so make sure they are all checked and watertight by drawing them up with a property solicitor.
Use tenant referencing
Most tenants are exemplary, they pay their rents on time and keep their properties spotless and faultless. But there are problem tenants.
To try to avoid these you can use a tenant referencing service. This will check all aspects of your tenant, from employment history to previous tenancies, along with any problems they may have had with landlords in the past. This can help you make an informed decision.