|Written by Sam Henshaw|
With over 41% of landlordâs saying that they had more tenants on their books than properties during the last quarter of 2009, it is imperative when making the decision to become a professional landlord that you make sure that you can offer your tenants only the best in quality lettings.
There is a common misconception amongst âaccidental landlordsâ that to become a professional landlord all you need is a property to let, but unfortunately this simply isnât the case.
If you're serious about making a secondary income through letting property, it is important that you not only establish a healthy relationship with your tenants, but that your properties are profitable too.
Below are a few useful tips I have found for protecting you and your tenants financially, and how best to deal with your tenants.
Once you have researched your properties; and established which have got the best tenancy demand and have decided which can help you to earn a month on month passive income after your mortgage payments have been deducted, you must remember to do the following:
Arrange an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement Before you enter into any rental agreement it is essential that you structure an Assured Shorthold Tenancy which has got your best interests at heart.
For example, it is important that your agreement contains clauses that legally allows you to to raise rents in the event of inflation or regain possession of your property should your tenant breach certain responsibilities in their contract i.e. damaging contents, falling into rent arrears etc
I recommend: If you are not certain whether or not your Tenancy agreement contains all the necessary clauses, make sure that you sit down with your Solicitor who can help you to go over all the legalities of your Tenancy. Similarly use a Master Tenancy agreement . In this one document you will find all the clauses you need to ensure that you and your tenants are protected.
Take an inventory of the properties contents One of the most expensive elements in property development youâll ever encounter, if you are not protected, is content replacements. I knew one landlord who, through the use of a rental agent, had to pay ÂŁ1,900 in maintenance repairs because the agent returned the tenantâs deposit without checking the property first.
I recommend: Damages are part of every day life, but when you have a tenant in your property, it can be difficult to prove who caused the damages without using a Property Inventory Form. With this form you can attend the property on the day the tenant moves in, list the condition of the properties contents, take photographs to prove their condition and revisit the property to repeat this process part way through their tenancy and on the day they move out.
Not only does this inventory form enable you to prove if items are missing from your property or have become damaged during the tenancy, but by keeping a record of this , you can ensure that only reasonable costs are deducted from your tenantâs deposits, not too much and not too little.
Get a Guarantor One of the best ways to ensure that you never have to cover the rental costs of your property yourself, is to give your tenants the option to have a Tenant Guarantor before they enter into the Tenancy agreement.
I recommend: By law, a tenant guarantor is legally obliged to cover any costs incurred by your tenant should they fail to pay for damages they have done to the property or fall into rental arrears. This form is particularly useful, as their guarantor will remain legally obligated to the property until the end of the tenancy.
Tips & Tactics Helpful advice for creating a strong relationship with your tenants:
Take action: if I have learnt anything over the years it is that the better the relationship you have with your tenant, the more respect they will have for you and your property. One good trick for ensuring good landlord/tenant relations is to act promptly to their requests.
If they call with a question, respond straight away. If an item breaks in the property i.e. the electrics go or the pipes overflow, ensure you fulfil your maintenance responsibilities, call in the appropriate contractor and repair the problem fast. Be a good landlord, and you are less likely to experience any rental problems.
Respect their space: similar to a child, if do not give your tenant enough space they will rebel. It is important as a landlord that you do not come across as overbearing to your tenant or keep visiting the property unnecessarily without asking their permission first.
By law, you are not allowed to breach your tenantâs right to privacy, so even though they are living in your rental property, you cannot turn up at the property without their consent. Invade their space and they may choose to withhold their rent.
Use the correct documentation: as a landlord it is important that you keep all records of your correspondence (preferably written) should the event occur that you need to use a Section 8 or Section 21 to regain possession of your property.
These letters will act as proof that you have done everything within your power to collect rent arrears and notify them of breaches in their tenancy. Similarly by using the right letters to notify them of a Tenant Viewing, Gas Safety Inspection or scheduled Maintenance repairs can ensure good landlord/tenants relations as it will also supply your tenants with written proof of your actions/visitations and can prevent any unnecessary confusion.
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