How to be a successful landlord

Property search boxA 2016 survey of over 2,500 landlords by the Council of Mortgage Lenders showed that 38% of private rented dwellings in the UK and Northern Ireland were owned by the 7% of landlords who owned five or more investment properties. 62% of the landlords owned just one investment property and most owned property near their own home.

Two thirds of the landlords surveyed said they supplemented their mainstream income by up to 25% with rental income. Only one in twenty was able to make a profitable living from being a landlord.

So, whether you’ve got one rental property or several, you will want to make sure you attract good tenants who not only look after your property but provide you with a steady stream of income without causing you headaches.

Property landlords who’ve been in the business for a while may well have met some tenants they wouldn’t want to give house room to ever again, although 46% of landlords say they have never had a dispute with their tenants. However, when the property is unoccupied you won’t get any income but you will still need to pay for its maintenance. Why not be a stand out landlord, and ensure you get the best tenants for your property?

Provide as standard what tenants want

Consider what might be needed to set up home. For the vast majority of tenants who are looking for a first home (mostly young singles, couples and new families) or temporary home (mostly young professionals and white collar workers on temporary contracts or are upwardly mobile), the costs can potentially be overwhelming.

  • White goods (cooker, washing machine, fridge freezer, tumble drier)
  • Curtains or blinds
  • Basic furniture (dining table, sofa, bed)

These basic essentials soon add up to thousands of pounds – and won’t necessarily fit into the tenants next property. Your tenant may only need to live in your property for a short period, and the need to provide these basics will deter some good tenants.

Make sure the property is fresh and clean – and safe

Your property will be your tenants’ home – look at it from their perspective and think about what changes or improvements you would like if you were going to live there.

Make sure you have all the necessary safety checks in place and provide confirmation of this to your tenant. 

Provide a manual with easy step-by-step instructions on all the appliances and the heating system. Let your tenant know the location of the mains stop-cock and electric and gas isolators, and tell them how to read the water, electric and gas meters. If you can also show them how to use them, that’s even better.

Look after the property

If you’re not confident that a tenant will look after your property, why not arrange a regular cleaner or  gardener to make sure your investment stays tip-top (and provides reassurance to your tenant that they will be returned their full deposit). You can also schedule regular maintenance inspections.

You can expect there to be the odd maintenance problems, so make sure you have the contact details of someone to deal with all eventualities. Get in touch with a good plumber, electrician, etc, in advance of a problem will save time – while keeping everyone happy and your income coming in.

Communication is just as vital as resolving an issue, so if you can’t deal with a problem instantly make sure you keep your tenant updated on what is happening.

Decide what you can let your tenants do

Make it clear from the start if you are happy for your tenants to make changes to the property. You might consider letting your tenants make changes such as paint a wall or change the curtains which, if done well, can even add value to the home.

You could ask them to clear any changes with you first, so that you can agree paint colours, or insist that a professional decorator does the work. If you leave decorating choice to your tenants, put a clause in the tenancy agreement that requires a tenant to return the property to an agreed colour palette, or reserve the right to get professional decorators in after the tenancy to put the property right – at their expense.

With over 40% of the UK population owning a pet, you might consider allowing your tenants to keep one and it might mean getting a higher rent. There are some obvious factors to consider – such as damage, lingering odours or even pest infestations – but consider also whether your neighbours will welcome an additional dog or cat in the area. You can minimise the impact with a pet deposit, and it might be that a dog might provide additional security to the building.

Ensure your property is returned to you in a fit state by providing an inventory should include every element of the property before the tenant moves in, with photos if possible.

If you’re thinking of buying a rental property or are converting a property you already own, ask a Chartered Surveyor to overlook the condition and structural elements of the building to help you safeguard your investment.

Back to July 2019 Newsletter