Whatever kind of landlord you regard yourself as … “amateur”, “accidental”, or “professional” … when starting out, just as with any new endeavour, it can mitigate risk and accelerate results to get some support.
There are currently over 160 Government statutes and regulations - and more in the pipeline - that landlords need to adhere to in order to be compliant and provide a safe home for tenants.
Fines for non-compliance are very onerous - up to £30K per offence.
Added to that, there are other issues newcomer landlords need to consider such as buying their property and running it in the most tax-efficient structure and also securing the best finance, if not purchasing for cash.
So here is our list of property professionals that we believe all first-time landlords should surround themselves with.
1. Mortgage broker
If you are purchasing using a BTL mortgage, then you would be well advised to seek out a reputable mortgage broker to help you find the best mortgage for your property and circumstances.
There are thousands of mortgage products on offer and it’s important not to be tempted by the headline interest rate.
There are very often fees and costs occurred with mortgages, that, when taken into consideration, are not as attractive as the headline rate makes them appear.
If you work with a “whole of market” broker, you can access all mortgage products and therefore the best deals. In other words, don’t just go to the High Street bank you have an account with. Their mortgage products will be far less competitive than those from specialist buy to let lenders such as Paragon, The Mortgage Works, Kent Reliance, Together, and other names that you probably have not heard of.
These lenders specialise in BTL finance and offer far more competitive rates than most High Street banks.
Your broker can advise you on whether to go for a fixed or variable rate, interest only or repayment, etc.
Finance is the lifeblood of any property business, and getting the right mortgage product for your property and circumstances will help you build your portfolio on solid foundations.
2. Tax advisor/accountant
Due to recent tax changes for landlords ** link to Section 24 blog **, landlords now have to be more pro-active in deciding which tax structure is best for their circumstances.
Working with a specialist property and landlord tax advisor will assist you in finding out what is right for you.
Typically, you have the choice between buying investment properties in your own name or buying through a limited company structure.
A tax advisor will explain the “pro’s” and “con’s” of both and help you determine what is right for you.
In any business, it makes sense to be as tax efficient as possible, as it helps you retain more profit.
It can also be important in respect of minimising capital gains tax or inheritance issues for when you exit your BTL investments, so there are both short term and long term considerations.
HMRC will also require you to submit a self-assessment tax return annually, reporting your property income (even if you do not believe you have made any taxable profit), and your tax advisor can do your accounts for you, as they can sometimes be quite complicated. Your advisor will also make sure that you claims all your allowable expenses and allowances and this could save you far more tax than the bill they will present for doing this.
You will need a reputable solicitor to undertake conveyancing for you and perhaps assist you with other legal matters.
Solicitors specialise in different areas of law, so you want to work with a firm that has a Conveyancing Department.
Personal recommendation is always a good way to find a trusted solicitor, but you should always do your own due diligence by putting the firm’s name into google and seeing what comes up, including any independent reviews.
4. Letting agent
If you are not sure of your legal obligations or how to source good quality tenants, then you should use a reputable lettings agent like ourselves.
We are landlords ourselves and specialise in lettings only, meaning that you get a specialised service from us that can be customised to suit the level of support you require.
Our team are at the end of the phone line to assist you with any issues, and we like to build long-term relationships with our landlords and help them grow profitable portfolios.
From time to time, your property will require repairs and on-going maintenance. If using our fully managed service, then we will use our extensive contacts to undertake this work on your behalf.
However, if you do not have that level of service with us, you will need your own contact who can be relied upon to undertake good quality work in a timely manner.
Bear in mind that most maintenance or repair requests should be actioned with 48 hours of receipt, or sooner if it is a serious issue like a water leak or boiler/heating defect and/or the tenant is vulnerable - such as elderly or young children in the property.
6. Landlord Association
We believe it is very important that all landlords join a landlord association. This keeps you in the loop about landlord issues and also supports landlords having a voice at a political level.
Many landlord associations offer training and events as well as a helpline for any questions you have.
You can join one or more of the following:
The Residential Landlords Association
The National Landlords Association
Guild of Landlords
You can also check with your local authority, as many run free landlord “forum” events where you can hear the latest news and also meet other local landlords for networking.
7. Property Forums
Being a landlord can be quite an isolated and lonely experience, so many landlords enjoy the banter and advice of property forums. These are free to use community resources where you can share your experiences and get input from other landlords. They can help inspire you and keep you moving forward.
The two biggest property forums in the UK are:
With the right professionals and resources behind you, you will mitigate risk and stress, increase profitability, reduce voids and the likelihood of bad tenants, and generally enjoy a far more satisfying landlord life!