Being a landlord comes with many responsibilities.
It can sometimes be difficult to make sure that you have met all requirements to provide your tenants with the best possible service. We have created this checklist to provide landlords with a list of factors to consider.
Do your market research
Before you publicly advertise your property as a landlord it’s important to do you market research. Knowing how long properties stay on the market to ensure you do not over-charge or undercharge for your rental property. Also the average rental income generated for properties can help you determine how much to charge for your property.
The market in every area of the country is completely different from one place to another. You might find it is important therefore that you get the property on the market for the right price and you don’t try to over let it. Ie that you put the price up too high and then not being able to rent it straight away. We find on a regular basis where landlords try to get too much money and go against our advice on what we believe it is worth and then the property stays on the market for some considerable time. It becomes very stale very quickly.
Prepare Tenancy Agreements
Despite the presence of laws which govern the relationship with a tenant, you must have a tenancy agreement. It would be unwise to lease out your property without such an arrangement. A tenancy agreement spells out expectations of both involved parties to minimise any disputes that may arise.
These are the most important documents you will be able to give the tenants. They are critically important and it is in your best interest to make sure they are correct. We would always advise clients to use our tenancy agreements over any others. The government do provide a tenancy agreement but for instance within this agreement itself tenants are entitled to have pets. If you have a leasehold property and you haven’t asked the managing agents for permission for a pet you could find yourself in trouble. It is important that you put the right items in the tenancy agreement and it is right for you and your property.
Tenancy agreements will also outline the obligations from the landlord and the tenant and any rules and regulations in respect of the property. They will have details such as names and addresses of the landlords, the tenants, property address, start and end date of the tenancy. Together with the rent and when it is payable and the deposit figure.
A security deposit is essential and you shouldn’t lease your property without it. The deposit covers for loses and bails out the tenants whenever they fail to pay. The payment in most cases is a month’s rent. When setting the cost to receive as a deposit, be cautious. If your deposit exceeds the price of five weeks rent, the payment could be assumed to be a premium, which binds the two parties to a long-lease agreement.
You may take a deposit from a tenant but the maximum you can collect is 5 weeks rent. Anything above this is now illegal as laid out by the recent legislation. It is important you understand that you need to put this deposit into a scheme. There are currently 3 providers and why not click here to read our article in this regard. You have to serve on the tenant the document within 30 days to show you have registered the deposit correctly. Give details of the scheme together with the terms and conditions. This document is critical. Landlords don’t appreciate if you don’t serve this on the tenant you can be liable to a minimum of 3 times the deposit plus the release of the deposit itself. This also happens at the end of every tenancies if it goes onto a rolling basis.
Screen Your Tenants
Ask your tenants to provide references to ensure they are financially stable and of good credit standing. This screening will give you some confidence that you will receive you payments as expected. It is also good to receive a previous landlord reference.
Whilst it is always good to screen your tenants it is never a guarantee that your tenants will be able to pay their rent in future. Unfortunately, the government over the years have watered down references to such a point that they are virtually not worthwhile having. Whilst you can get previous references there is never a guarantee they are correct. We always take guarantors for any of our tenants therefore it is critical you consider this. A guarantor is someone you can go to and make sure in the event the rent is not paid they will pay it on your behalf. We always ensure that the guarantor is a United Kingdom homeowner so if there is any issue you can always look towards putting it on their property.
Make the Payment Process Convenient
The door to door movement in the name of collecting rent is hectic. Set up a suitable means of payment, helpful to both you and the tenant. Setting up a standing order will ensure that payments are made promptly when due. It spare you the pain of running around collecting your rents. You will also know when to expect rent money as it will always come through unless it has been stopped or is unavailable.
Provide Receipts for Every Transactions
Record all payments and give receipts. Both parties must have the evidence of payment. Provide a written document for all operations. These written records act as evidence in all legal matters. The two sides play their roles as stipulated in writing.
Property Management & Maintenance
As a landlord you are responsible for the maintenance and management of your property. You must make sure that your property is in tip-top shape. Well-maintained property will attracted better paying tenants who last.
You must understand from the recent deregulation bill and the unfit for human habitation bill that landlords have much greater responsibility when it comes to repairs and when they need to take place. Landlords can now be fined and courts give compensation to tenants especially when it comes to items such as damp etc. You need to make sure that the property maintenance is carried out within a reasonable time and in an emergency almost immediately. It is important you have good contractors that you are able to rely on in order to do this work.
Talk to Your Insurance Provider
If you are leasing out your property for the first time, be sure to talk to an insurance provider. Though it’s not compulsory, landlord insurance is beneficial as it can include many features. Such as accidental damage cover, financial protection against unpaid rent and building insurance to protect the brick and mortar of your property.
We find that most landlords don’t understand what type of insurance they need in relation to their property. They often seem to think that the insurance they currently have on their property by way of a home insurance provider will be sufficient and it is not. You should get a quote for proper landlords insurance. Why not speak to our sister company iInsure 365 who will be able to you in this regard. They have in excess of 150 five star google reviews. Click here to see their website.
Attend to Tenant Issues Promptly
Do not let matters pile up that need your attention. If there are necessary repairs, or a tenants has not paid rent for a given month, deal with the issue as soon as it occurs. Not dealing with issues when they occur can result in bigger issues that may cost you more time and money. Please refer to our previous article on Maintenance Responsibilities Explained.
Select a Reliable Letting Agent
Should you leave your house in the hands of an agent, vet them. The agent must be responsible, trustworthy, and honest. Conduct a personality check on the agent to ensure they can take care of the house in your absence. Harringtons Lettings have been helping landlords successfully let their properties in Hove and the surrounding Sussex area for over 24 years. We solely focus on letting services to ensure our landlords receive the best possible service.
It is important that you understand your responsibilities in dealing with tenants and when you need to carry out repairs as well as the legal requirements. Did you know that there has been over 127 new laws in the last 5 years. Why not contact us and discuss what our management fees are for managing your property. If you get it wrong the financial penalties can be substantial. Don’t hesitate to call us on 01273 724000.