People from all walks of life can find themselves becoming landlords. For example, investors who are looking to make money by renting out a Buy-To-Let property, homeowners who have bought a property but are not ready to let go of their previous property and so rent it out, or individuals with a granny annexe looking to get some extra income to cover the bills. Whichever category of landlord you find yourself in, if you are new to the rental business, then the responsibilities of the role can seem overwhelming.
Here are our 5 best pieces of landlord advice to help make the role easier to handle, and increase the likelihood of success:
- Do your homework and calculate costs
As with everything in life, doing proper research as a landlord is essential. Budget is an especially important area to research well in order to become successful as a landlord. You need to factor in a number of costs. For example, insurance- which may seem like a big upfront cost, but is essential in order to cover costs of whatever situation arises. Taxes are another cost that must be budgeted for- the charges vary regionally so check to see what yours will be. Another cost that landlords have to factor in is repair charges. Landlords are responsible for fixing anything that breaks in the rental unit- either on your own or by hiring in a tradesperson. In an ideal world, the rent you charge will cover all expenses and make you a profit, so by calculating your expected costs, you can determine how much of the rent you can expect to keep, and how much you will need to set aside for upkeep of your rental property.
- Set office hours
No one wants to be called out at 11pm to fix a broken tap. When you are a landlord you can set your own hours, so decide upon those that work for you and your other commitments. Many landlords opt for open ‘office hours’ to be between 9-5, in which time they, or a tradesperson, are able to go to the rental property and sort out any problems that the tenant may have. You may decide that 9-5 doesn’t work for you and instead 10-4 is better. Whatever hours you decide, tell your tenants, and make sure you are available when you say you are
- Write a checklist
In order to help you, as a new landlord, keep on top of all the tasks involved with the rental business it is a good idea to write a checklist of what you need to do before every new tenant moves in to your property. Deep cleaning, furniture repairs, and lock changes are just some of the things that you might want to consider. There are also rules in certain locations about having to repaint the property every few years- so double check the rules in your area. When tenants move out it is also a good time to check over all appliances and check for hazards, for example is the cooker still working well? Making a list once will save you lots of time and effort, in the future.
- Be choosy about tenants
As a landlord, you have control over who you rent out your property to. Renting to family members is often a bad move, but renting to colleagues and acquaintances can work well as they are usually friendly, and not overly demanding. When renting to people you do not know, ensure you ask lots of questions about their previous rental history, reasons for their move, and their income. Verify the potential tenant’s information as much as you can. Of course you cannot discriminate tenants based on their race or religion, but at the same time, you do not have to accept the first tenant to apply either. Having good tenants will help prevent rental headaches for you as a landlord.
- Create a policy and stick to it
Being a landlord is a serious business. Do not expect to be able to make up the rules as you go along, and still reap the rental rewards. When you do not have a plan or policy in place you leave yourself open to criticism, and hassle from tenants who know you are making up the rules on the spot. To make life easier for you, and your tenants, create a written policy, which you have gone over with your tenants. You can then refer to the policy whenever the tenant has a question- saving you time, and preventing arguments. Remember that once you have created a policy, you cannot stray from it, so make sure it is well written and correct first time around.
About the author:
Sam Obrart is a content marketer who writes about investment, lettings and property management for Vesper Homes.