Once you have acquired your first investment property, there are are many things to consider for first-time landlords. If you’re planning to rent out your property, here are a few top tips from Mount & Minster letting agents.
The private rented sector (PRS) shrunk from 4.7m dwellings in 2016-17, to 4.5m in 2017-18, increasing the demand for landlords. Renting your property is a big decision and it’s important you understand what being a landlord involves. We’ve put these tips together to ensure you understand your responsibilities as a landlord, know how to protect your property, and keep your tenants happy and dealing with any issues that may arise.
Do your research
As a first step, get to know your market. Research similar properties in the local area and find out what rents they are achieving each month. A good estate agent will be able to advise you on this. Market the property at a competitive price and aim to keep it filled at all times to minimise rental voids.
Check-in with your lender
If you’re looking to rent out your privately owned home, you go from being a home-owner and occupier to a landlord. Check if your mortgage allows you to let out your property as some agreements include caveats to prevent homes from being rented. If you are unsure, speak to your mortgage lender and they will be able to advise you accordingly.
Being a landlord is a 24/7 job, so you should be prepared to receive calls from your tenant at any time during the day or night. Some issues will need immediate attention and unless you have a managing agent, you are responsible for all repairs and maintenance. There are extensive legal responsibilities you should be aware of (see below). If you’re not up to speed then you could face considerable fines or even a custodial sentence. If you’re not sure, use a reputable letting agent, such as Mount & Minster.
Get the property rental ready
Make sure your property is clean and any modernisation or DIY projects are finished. It will be more attractive to prospective tenants if it’s had a fresh lick of paint, all repairs are done and if necessary, new flooring has been installed. You should also think about the type of tenants your property will be best suited to; for example, young families, students or single professionals. This will determine whether you should let it furnished or unfurnished. If possible, offer both options, so the agent can market your property to a wider audience.
Sort out the insurance
Your existing buildings and contents insurer must be made aware of your intention to let your property, as your policy will probably need to be amended. While specific landlord insurance isn’t a legal requirement, it’s advisable as the policy will protect the building, your tenants and your investment as a whole – some policies will also pay out if your tenant misses their rent payments.
When it comes to being a landlord, there are more regulations to comply with than you can shake a stick at. To put it into perspective, there are currently around 150 laws that landlords need to adhere to while letting a property. At the start of a tenancy agreement, you must carry out Right-to-Rent checks in line with immigration laws, protect deposits and have all the essential paperwork in place.
While it isn’t a legal requirement, it’s a very good idea to have a written tenancy agreement so both you and your tenant understand your rights and responsibilities.
The safety of your tenants is very important, so you must also arrange a Gas Safety check every year. It’s also a good idea to make sure all electrical appliances and wiring are tested regularly too. Finally, it goes without saying that your rental property should be fitted with smoke alarms on every floor and carbon monoxide detectors where necessary.
By law, your property needs to have an EPC (energy performance certificate), and it needs to be Band E or above. You won’t be able to market the property unless you reach this standard and have a certificate to prove it, so get it sorted as soon as possible – they’re valid for 10 years.
It’s important to undertake regular inspections of the property, although remember you can’t enter the property without your tenants’ permission. This is classed as trespassing and is illegal. Give them at least 24 hours’ written notice, and this should be stipulated in your tenancy agreement.
Choosing the right agent
If you want to make the process pain and risk-free, use an agent to manage your property and guide you in the right direction. A good agent will take away the stress of finding suitable tenants and will ensure your property complies with any regulatory changes. Mount & Minster are Propertymark Protected agents, having been recognised as experienced and trained professionals who work to a code of practice in order to help landlords manage their homes.