Preparing your property to let can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t consider yourself a seasoned property professional. Before putting your home on the rental market, there are many important factors to consider, and things you need to remember if you want your first experience as a landlord to be a positive one. So, whether you’ve decided to invest in buy-to-let property for the first time, or you’ve acquired a rental property unexpectedly or through change in circumstance, check out our top tips to help see you through your very first lettings experience:
Do your research
Firstly, it’s important to know the current rental market and how this might affect you. Researching similar properties in your area is a quick, reliable way of establishing roughly how much rental income you could expect. However, be aware that by setting your asking price too high or too low, your property may struggle to find the tenants you’re after, thus making your property tricky to let. The best way to establish a reasonable asking price – and to receive top property advice – is to arrange a valuation with a lettings agency. The lettings agent will also be able to help you decide which kind of tenants you might like to attract – be it single individuals, professional couples or families, there’s thousands of people in the market for a new home.
Get your property ready to let
Whether you’ve just purchased your property or you’re moving out of it and onto pasture’s new, there’s always a little ground work which needs completing before allowing tenants to move in. It could be that your property requires a lick of paint, to freshen the décor and modernise it a little. Or, it might require a new boiler or more complex maintenance works. Either way, ensuring your property is in ship shape before offering it to the market will not only attract a higher rental value and a higher number of tenants, but it will also mean your new tenants can settle into their home without being pestered by workmen or decorators.
You must also decide whether or not you wish to let your property with furniture. It could be that you’re hoping to rent your home to professionals who, for example, wish to live in your property Monday – Friday to save a longer commute into work in the city. These types of tenants could find a furnished property particularly attractive as this will save them time and money in seeking their own furniture. Families, however, are likely to have several items of furniture already, and so may only require white goods in the kitchen. Speak to your lettings agent for more advice on this.
Brush up on your responsibilities as a landlord
Becoming a landlord is a big step! You’ll go from being an owner/occupier to a landlord in one quick swoop. This change, though, brings responsibility and so it’s imperative to brush up on the basics when it comes to lettings legislation. If you currently live in the property you will be renting out, it’s important to get the green light from your mortgage lender, as some mortgage agreements include covenants stating that you cannot let out your property – at least without prior permission. If you have doubts on this matter, turn to your mortgage lender or broker in the first instance.
Another consideration is whether or not to instruct a property management agency to help you with the running of your rental property. If you choose not to instruct the help of a property manager, you must be prepared to manage and maintain the entire tenancy (and your relationship with your tenants) yourself. You will need to be on call and proactive for any potential issues, such as a broken boiler or gas leak, and you’ll be accountable for all repairs and maintenance, plus refurbishment of the interior and exterior of the property when required. If you’re interested in having your home managed whilst it’s occupied, speak to our Property Management team to find out how our different levels of service can help you.
Don’t forget about insurance
Property insurance is a huge industry, so choosing the right insurance policy for your property can be confusing. Many landlords, especially if they are letting their home for the first time, are not aware of the difference between standard home insurance and the insurance required as a landlord. Whilst there is no legal obligation to take out landlord insurance, it is advisable as a landlord-specific policy will protect the building, your tenants and your investment as a whole, whilst some policies will also pay out if your tenant misses their rental payments – a huge consideration if you have a mortgage to pay.
Ensure all legal requirements are fulfilled
As a landlord, there are several regulations you must comply with. Right to rent checks must be carried out at the beginning of any tenancy, for example, in line with immigration laws. There’s additional paperwork required to register and protect your tenant’s deposit, too.
Gas safety checks are also imperative, and must be completed every year without fail. It is also a great idea to have all electrical appliances within your property checked and thoroughly tested, so that you can rest assured that your property and your new tenants are safe. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors also must be arranged, with one alarm for each floor of the property. Your managing agent or Property Manager will be able to assist you in making all of these arrangements.
It is also required, by law, for your property to have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), and your property cannot be marketed to let (or for sale) without one. New legislation means that your EPC must demonstrate a rating grade of at least ‘E’, otherwise home improvements must be carried out to improve its rating; this might include a new boiler, new windows or new heating and water system, which can be expensive. Again, your letting agent or Property Manager will arrange this to be done for you.
Choose the right lettings agent
If you’re hoping to make your first experience as a landlord stress-free, it’s important to use an agent to manage your property and guide you through everything you need to know. A good lettings agency will help take away the stress of finding suitable tenants and also ensure your property is compliant following any legislation changes.
Leaders’ lettings teams and property managers are experienced and trained professionals who are dedicated to managing rental properties on a daily basis. If you would like a rental valuation, or wish to find out more about how they can help you manage your first experience as a landlord, contact your local property experts on 0333 230 4510.