Buying to Let? How to be a Great Landlord to Your Tenants
It’s no secret that purchasing property is beyond the reach of many people, especially in Yorkshire where prices are high. This leaves many individuals and families relying on the rental market to house themselves.
If you’re lucky enough to own property that you let out to tenants, you have a duty of care to meet their needs. It does not take much to sully the reputation of a landlord, so avoid falling into any common traps and pitfalls. If you follow this advice, you’ll enjoy a great relationship with your tenants.
Choose Your Tenants Carefully
First thing’s first. It’s always easier to be a good landlord if you also have good tenants! You need to be mindful of the warning signs of tenants from hell. By ensuring you have a good relationship with your renters, you’re far likelier to perform your duties better.
Meet you tenants face to face and do a chemistry check. You don’t need to be best friends. In fact, you should maintain professional boundaries. However, if you appear to rub each other up the wrong way on sight, the relationship is destined to fail.
Ultimately, finding the right tenants is best for all parties. Your property will be well cared for, and your tenants likelier to stick around for a prolonged period. If you have to keep finding new occupants every time a lease expires, you’ll run up substantial losses in time and money.
As a landlord, you have a duty of care to your tenants to ensure the home is safe. This means double-checking that electrical standards are met, foundations are secure and the home is devoid of mould and similar hazards.
Inspect the property thoroughly before letting it out, and where improvements need to be made, don’t be cheap. Hire the very best tradespeople that you can and get official certification to declare that the work has been completed to an exemplary standard. This will save you a lot of headaches – and potentially a great deal of money – in the future.
Firstly, there’s the old adage that if you buy cheap you pay twice. Shoddy workmanship will always give way eventually, and you’ll end up needing to find somebody else to manage the tasks at hand.
In a worst case scenario, think about potential legal action that could come your way. If the home is not fit for purpose and a tenant is injured or falls ill, the burden of responsibility will fall on your shoulders. That can lead to civil, or even criminal, court proceedings.
Be Fair and Realistic with Your Price Expectations
As a landlord, you’ll be keen to make as much money as you can from your letting agreement. Don’t get greedy, though. Just because somebody, somewhere, will agree to a rental agreement, it doesn’t mean they should.
Obviously you are not running a charity. You should charge a fair and reasonable rent. How far above the cost of any mortgages on the property you decide to go is up to you. Be realistic, though. Look at similar properties in the area and make your pricing competitive. The condition of the home must also be taken into consideration.
You may also wish to implement a sliding scale of rental pricing, such as an annual increase. That, again, is up to you. It’s advisable to make this clear from the outset though.
If you unexpectedly raise the cost of a tenant’s rent, especially above the national rate of inflation, they may quickly decide to move on. Suddenly you’re left covering the mortgage and bills yourself without any rental income.
Get Everything on Paper
It’s tempting to just trust your tenants and agree to a handshake deal. That will save you money on estate agent fees and keep things friendly. This could come back to bite one or both parties, though. It’s highly advisable to get everything pertaining to the agreement in writing.
- A full inventory of what you leave in the home, and the condition these items are in.
- An agreement to invest the tenant’s security deposit in a safe and secure scheme.
- A tenancy agreement confirming what is considered reasonable and unreasonable behaviour.
- Confirmation of a termination notice period for the agreement on both sides.
- A contract that confirms the particulars of the rental agreement, such as the date that rent is due and the sums involved.
Arrangements for what will happen if rent is late or goes unpaid.
Having all of this on paper will ensure that, should things take a turn for the worse, you have legal recourse to protect yourself and your property. If you are relying on goodwill and promises, you may fall foul of tenant rights in the event of a problem.
Be Communicative, but Don’t be a Pest
Do what you can to be on-hand to meet your tenants before they move in. Tenants will have questions about the property. You will be the best possible person to answer them, even if you will be using an estate agent as a go-between once they are in situ.
Make sure you are available to your tenants when needed, and check in periodically to ensure all is well. Do not bombard them with emails, phone calls or text messages, though. You need to accept that while you own the property, it is your tenant’s home as per their contract.
Equally, do not arrive unannounced at the property. This is very off-putting to tenants, who will feel judged and watched. If you need to visit the property, either to conduct an inspection or to make some improvements, give your tenants at least 24 hour’s notice.
React Quickly to Problems
One of the burdens of being a landlord is the necessity to fix things that may go wrong. Yes, it can be an inconvenience to have your Sunday afternoon interrupted by a text message announcing that the boiler has packed up or the oven has broken down. That’s the life you signed up for as a landlord, though.
Deal with these issues quickly and efficiently when they arise. It is completely unfair to expect a tenant to live in unsuitable conditions while you wait for a more convenient time to address problems. Keep a plumber, electrician, handyman, window fitter and anything else you may need on speed dial. In fact, have two of each in case your first choice is unavailable.
The life of a landlord doesn’t need to be stressful. If you choose your tenants well and react appropriately to issues, you’ll enjoy a harmonious relationship. Just don’t fall into the trap of gaining a reputation as a problem landlord. That’s a status that can be hard to shake off.