As a landlord, you’ll want to enjoy a consistent and reliable income from your rental property by making sure your tenants want to stay after a fixed term ends. One of the best ways to prevent void periods is make sure your property is looked-after at all times.
Looking after a property takes some considerable time and knowledge of the private-rented sector. Your work doesn’t stop after your tenants move in. As well as managing your property, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your finances and obligations as a landlord.
Our property managers share their top tips for looking after your investment, so your rental income stays secure…
Even before your tenants move in, you should know about the laws in place to keep your property safe. If it uses gas, you’ll to complete an annual gas safety check from a gas safe registered engineer and pass a copy of the certificate to your tenants. If the property relies on solid fuel (such as coal or wood) then you must also fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every room where this is burned, as well as fit a smoke detector on every floor.
It’s also a good idea to have all electrical appliances (such as cookers and kettles) PAT tested and check that electrical systems (such as sockets and switches) are safe.
Once your tenants have moved in, make sure you inspect the property every three months or so. But remember that you’ll always need to give your tenants at least 24 hours written notice.
When at the property, walk through an inspection report to make sure that your tenants aren’t breaking any terms of the contract, such as the number of occupants or any rules about smoking. Check that the property is being maintained and record any damage so you can arrange for repairs or maintenance work.
Your contract may specify that the landlord is responsible for maintaining certain communal areas, so make sure you check these out and look at the overall structure of the property for any emerging issues, such as leaks or damp.
Take the opportunity to ask whether your tenants are happy in the property. Your visit is a chance to build a positive relationship and to see whether there are any ongoing issues you might have missed.
Repairs and maintenance
Make sure your contract contains an emergency contact number should any urgent repairs be needed. Issues such as leaking pipes can quickly present a safety risk if they’re not dealt with straight away.
Although you might be able to fix any minor repairs yourself, it’s best to find a professional for the more complex jobs. Make sure you have specialists such a plumber, gas engineer and electrician in your address book.
Managing your finances
As well as managing the property itself, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your finances throughout a tenancy. Before letting the property, you’ll have worked out your estimated rental yield. However, now that the property is let, record how much money is coming in and out each month. This includes the rental payments (which you’ll need to make sure arrive on time every month), mortgage payments, insurance costs, taxes, utilities (if your tenants aren’t responsible), maintenance and repair costs and any fees, such as an HMO Licence.
If you’re not sure whether your property needs a licence, read our blog about licensing here and contact your local authority for more information.
Ending a tenancy
If either party serves notice on a property, you’ll need to carry out a detailed check-out procedure. This will include reviewing the inventory taken before your tenants moved in and checking whether the property has incurred any damage.
If you took a deposit at the beginning of a tenancy, you’re legally required to protect it in a government-authorised scheme. Once you and your tenant have come to an agreement about the return of the deposit money, you’ll need to contact the tenancy deposit protection scheme where the money is registered and return it within 10 days. At Stirling Ackroyd, we use my|deposits. If you struggle to reach an agreement about the return of the deposit, each scheme runs a free dispute resolution service.
If you need to evict a tenant due to a serious problem such as ongoing rent arrears, you may be able to serve a Section 21 notice. This can be done after a fixed tenancy ends if there’s a written contract, or during a tenancy with no fixed end date (also known as a periodic tenancy). If you run into any issues with your tenants, it’s even more important that you keep up with your legal obligations as you won’t be able to serve a Section 21 without having given your tenants a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), the gas safety certificate and the government’s ‘how to rent’ guide.
For more information about a Section 21 notice, visit the government’s website.
Finding a new tenant
Before you agree to a tenant moving in, always undertake detailed reference and credit checks (and Right to Rent checks if the property is in England). At Stirling Ackroyd, we use professional referencing service The Lettings Hub.
All tenants should be thoroughly assessed, validated and verified, so you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about who lives in your property.
Once you are happy with your chosen tenant, issue an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement so both parties are fully aware of what they need to do once the tenancy starts.
Contact a professional
Landlords should also be aware of the legislation they need to follow before, during and after a tenancy. Overall, there are over 145 laws and 400 private-rented sector regulations in England and Wales, so if you’re not clear about what you need to do, it’s best to find a professional letting agent.
Our Fully Managed Plus service leaves nothing to chance, speak to our ARLA Propertymark qualified professionals about the management of your property now by visiting here.