Being a landlord can be a useful way of earning extra income. However, when you’re on the first rung of the ladder, it’s important to learn how to be a good landlord when managing buy-to-let properties.
Figuring out how to build an amicable relationship with tenants and learning how to keep your property protected are two of the most important things you need to do.
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Achieve this by taking care of matters that are important to tenants, such as dealing with any issues with the property in a timely fashion and making sure it meets all the relevant safety standards.
In addition, be pleasant and approachable as a landlord. Having a good relationship with tenants will make it easier to resolve any issues that may arise, rather than going down a more formal, legal route.
Resolving issues with the property
Tenants will contact you from time to time with issues that will require your attention. Don’t ignore or overlook their calls. If you’re unable to resolve the issue in a timely manner, let them know.
While you may be able to deal with some problems yourself, others will require trades people. It’s a good idea to have some trusted local businesses on hand, such as roofers, plumbers, CORGI-registered gas engineers and electricians.
Never cut corners, as a botched job could cost more in the end. Even worse, it could be dangerous if you use unskilled labourers when you need a professional.
When you resolve issues with your portfolio promptly, you will have a better relationship with tenants.
Communication is the key to having a good relationship with tenants. Being approachable is one of the most important traits you can possess. When you have a new tenant, take the time to introduce yourself and make sure they’re happy.
Show them how the hot water system and central heating work and make sure they know where the meter cupboard is, for example.
Give them your telephone number and email address so there’s more than one open channel of communication. Make it clear they are welcome to contact you at any time if they have any concerns.
Every tenant appreciates transparency and honesty. Update them with things they need to know, such as when their gas and electric safety checks are due, or if there is an inspection coming up.
Don’t spring visits on them without notice. This will give them peace of mind that you’re honest and it should hopefully encourage them to behave in the same way.
Meeting safety standards
As a landlord, you have health and safety obligations to fulfil including the safe installation, maintenance and mandatory safety checks for gas and electrical equipment.
You must also supply and fit carbon monoxide and fire alarms and these must be checked regularly. Keep a record of any safety activities and give your tenants a copy so they can see everything is on schedule.
Keeping your distance
If you’re a new landlord, you may find it difficult to stay away. You may be concerned about whether your property is being properly looked after, but you can’t simply pop round whenever you feel like it. This will feel to your tenants as if you’re hassling them.
It’s important for them to feel at home in your property. After all, they’re paying the rent, so they’re entitled to some privacy. While it’s acceptable to schedule a property inspection after six months, don’t go calling round all the time and always ensure you follow procedures.
Compiling an inventory
While it may feel tedious compiling an inventory, it’s an important task. If you don’t have one and you’ve inadvertently chosen the wrong tenant, they can treat your property however they wish, without any repercussions.
Without a written record of how your properties looked before the tenants moved in, there’s also a good chance you’ll lose any disputes.
An inventory will protect both your tenants and you as a landlord. Take the time to go round each room with your tenants, inspecting the contents’ condition. Make a written note of any existing blemishes or damage and take photographs in each room. This way, both parties will have proof of how the property looked at the start of the tenancy.
The inventory should be a highly detailed document describing what shape the rental property is in. You can even take video footage if this helps.
If you’re renting out furnished homes, make sure you keep a written and photographic record of the landlord furniture and HMO furniture in all of your properties. This can help you to decide whether any damage has been caused simply by normal wear and tear, or whether the tenants have treated your furniture harshly, or had any accidents.
You can then work out if damage has occurred during the tenancy and whether the tenant is entitled to have their deposit returned when they move out.
According to research, 80% of tenants prefer to rent directly from the landlord, rather than through a letting agent. It’s vital to offer a high-quality service, as you’ll be in competition with other landlords for the best tenants – you need to come out on top.