With new tenants secured and all the legalities in place, it’s easy to sit back, relax and watch the rental income roll. Some landlords simply want to allow their tenants the space to get on with living in their new home, whilst for others they’d rather keep their distance until such point as the tenant gets in touch.
Either way, we believe it’s advisable to commit to relatively regular visits, of every couple of months or so and if you need some convincing as to why this might be, then here are our top five reasons:
Invest in your tenant, not just your property
By visiting your tenants once they’ve had time to settle in as well at regular six-monthly intervals, it not only reinforces that you’re a landlord who takes their role seriously, but also one that will keep an eye on their tenants and their property investment. Of course, for the tenant themselves it provides a regular touch point during which they can raise any issues that may not be critical, but which will be better dealt with rather than allowed to get worse.
Be sure your tenant is who you think they are
During the tenant selection process you’ll have no doubt spent time to carefully consider the most suitable tenant for your property; the one you felt could be trusted to pay the rent on time; and the one who would look after the property. But once the tenancy starts, how can you be sure that this remains the case?
A regular visit will help you to identify any illegal sub-letting, or more likely the presence of long-term friends, partners or extended family members who haven’t been pre-agreed with you.
The same can be said for pets which haven’t been pre-agreed. You might not object to the odd goldfish, but what if your tenant acquires a couple of Alsatian dogs? One of my tenants “forgot” to tell me she had a cat, which I spotted during an inspection visit, so I added a Pet Clause to the rental agreement making her responsible for any damage that might be caused by its sharp claws and any extra cleaning required at the end.
Keep on top of the maintenance
Unless any niggles or damage directly inconvenience your tenants, you can’t rely on them to keep you abreast of the maintenance that may require your attention. It’s always best to deal with issues before they grow to the point where they could be more problematic. I, for one, was pleased to have visited one of my properties during a particularly bad winter to find a huge damp patch on the ceiling of the spare bedroom. The tenant hadn’t mentioned it and if I hadn’t visited when I did, I suspect they’d have only informed me once the ceiling had caved in!
Make sure everything is above board
It may sound dramatic, but you can never tell what’s going on behind closed doors and the last thing you want is to find out that your tenants are using your property to carry out illegal activities. Sure, it’s unlikely that your tenants are using the property as the headquarters of a drugs operation or as a brothel, but it does happen – as a friend of mine found out when he was contacted by the police to say his tenant had been running a cannabis farm and they’d had to smash the door down!
Protect your own insurance
Something that is worth checking is whether your landlord insurance stipulates that the properties it relates to must be inspected at least once every six months, either by the landlord or their agent. Simply, if you fail to do this, then you could inadvertently invalidate your policy. For this reason, it’s a good idea to arrange property inspections with the tenant in writing (or by email) and to keep a copy of the correspondence, just in case.