You’ve made the decision to invest in property and become a buy-to-let landlord. You’ve reviewed your finances, checked out mortgages and researched ideal properties and locations.
So now, with the investment made, it’s time to commence life as a landlord! However, it’s not time to sit back, relax and watch the rental income roll in quite yet.
Being a landlord shouldn’t be taken lightly and you’ll need to keep your eye on the ball to ensure you’re marketing your investment effectively, whilst remaining compliant in an increasingly intricate rental landscape.
It can be a complex and time-consuming process to be a hands-on landlord, but here are the key things to consider when you’re starting out:
Get your marketing right
Simply, most tenants conduct their search for a new rental property online. In fact, research from Rightmove suggests as many as 92% approach the search for their new home this way. Choosing a letting agent, therefore, that advertises on Rightmove and Zoopla will be a vital first step on getting the necessary exposure for your property to secure a quick let.
First impressions count
A picture is worth a thousand words and this is never truer when marketing your property. With potential tenants flicking through countless rental properties online, you’ll want the pictures of the property you’re letting, to not only do it justice, but also stand out. Investing in professional photos is well worth it, but it isn’t just a case of using a better camera. A professional photographer will choose the best angle, lighting and accentuate the spaces in your property to maximise all its best features. In an era of smart phones with high quality cameras built in, it’s easy to think we’re all seasoned snappers, but our research shows that a property with professional photography can enjoy 8 times as many tenant enquiries than those without.
Get first in line
A featured listing on any of the major property sites will get your property in front of a greater number of potential tenants and help you fill it quickly. Featured listings often mean appearing at the top of search results and more photos to help sell your property. With the management of void periods and the need to secure a quality tenant quickly being of paramount importance to landlords, we advise you to consider investing in this added layer of marketing.
Check, check, check
You’ve found your perfect tenant and you’re keen to see them settle in and start collecting their rent. However, before you do so, ensure that you’ve carried out a thorough process of referencing. It protects both you and one of your biggest assets and whilst it’s possible to do this yourself, we’d recommend engaging a professional. Simply, they’ll check a tenant’s credit history, previous landlord and current employment and can do so relatively easily, saving you a lot of time and hassle.
Sign on the dotted line
Agreeing a contract, or tenancy agreement, from the outset is vital for your legal protection. Templates for tenancy agreements are available online at Gov.uk, or you can choose to engage a letting agent who will draft one for you. At this stage, you’ll also need to take the tenant’s deposit which, by law, must be held in a government approved deposit protection scheme.
Protect your investment
The reality of being a landlord is that at some point one of your tenants may not pay on time. Indeed, rental arrears are on the rise and as many as 28% of landlords have experienced non-payment of rent in the last year. To mitigate the impact of this, it is advisable to consider rental protection insurance which will enable you to keep up with mortgage repayments even when the rent doesn’t arrive on time.
Being environmentally conscious is no longer just ‘nice’, it’s vital. Tenants will want to know that the property they move in to holds a certain level of energy efficiency so that running costs remain manageable and the home is comfortable to live in. However, by law, you must also hold an Energy Performance Certificate with a rating of at least ‘E’.
Finally, you’ll need to ensure that a gas safety check has been carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer within the last year. It’s also important that you have working fire and carbon monoxide alarms within the property.