Taking the plunge into letting properties is an exciting time but is also a trip into the unknown. It isn't as easy as flinging open the doors and waiting for the first punter armed with a security deposit to arrive, but there are some ways to make the whole process go smoothly. With that in mind here are our top tips for new landlords:
1) Don't rush to rent: You've got your property ready and naturally enough you want to get it let and begin to get some return on your investment. But don't be in too much of a rush. Take your time and make sure you get the right tenant. Go through the selection criteria you have worked out and ensure your credit checks are done before you sign the tenancy agreement. Taking the time to find the right tenant at this stage can save a lot of stress and problems further down the line.
2) When you find a good tenant, keep them: Good tenants, who pay their rent on time and treat you and your property with respect, should be the goal for every landlord. When you find such a tenant do all you can to keep them. Establish a good relationship and ensure any concerns are dealt with and they will continue to pay you rent for years without you losing income by having to take time to find new tenants. See our article on How to Keep a Good Tenant for some great tips.
3) Respond to your tenants concerns: Nobody wants to be bothered by late night phone calls from a tenant complaining about a leaking tap but it is part and parcel of being a landlord. Don't brush off any problems or issues reported by your tenant. Every repair should, when humanly possibly, be sorted within 24 hours. If that proves to be impossible make sure you keep your tenant fully informed of the situation so they don't feel you are neglecting them or, worse, just don't care about them or the property.
4) Run a business: Whether you have a single property for some extra retirement income or a portfolio of houses as an investment you are running a business. Be organised. Keep a list of all serial numbers for appliances, have a diary with all key dates pencilled in; gas checks, insurance renewals, boiler service etc. Keep a file with contact numbers of tradesmen including those who will respond to emergency call-outs and ensure you have a good accountant who will not only help you balance the books but who is experienced in the minutiae of landlord taxation.
5) Manage your cash flow: With any business cash flow is hugely important but especially so for the new landlord. Scheduling incomings and outgoings correctly is something which is easily overlooked but can make any landlords life easier. Make sure you set up your tenancy agreement to ensure your tenant's rent comes into your account before your mortgage payment goes out to create positive cash flow.
6) Make sure you have the right insurance: It sounds basic. It is. But it is astonishing how many new landlords think normal household insurance is sufficient for rental properties. It isn't. Failure to take out landlords insurance can come back to haunt you and end up costing a stack of money. Ensure your policy contains a realistic rebuild cost and don't forget to review this figure every year when you renew your insurance.
7) Find a reputable letting agent: A good quality letting agent can make the whole arduous process of finding a tenant, renting the property, and collecting the rent simplicity itself. The best agents will provide a range of services from simply advertising the property for rent to a complete hands-off management package. Many traditional estate agents offer letting services but online letting agents such as makeurmove.co.uk not only provide a comprehensive portfolio of services but also convenient web-based dashboards for managing your rental business. You can find more information on the landlord services provided by makeurmove on our site under the "Landlords" section.