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Advice for First Time Landlords

With house prices rising at their fastest rates since the recession, and the gap between those who can afford to buy and those who cannot widening with each passing month, now is as good a time as ever to enter the buy-to-let market and become a landlord.

The buy-to-let market is an incredibly lucrative one at the moment and, for first time landlords, a venture that can prove very financially successful. However, it is important that you approach it in the right way. Buying-to-let is very different from purchasing your own home and any mortgage taken out with the intention to let must be what is right from a business standpoint. Even if you do not intend on purchasing a property but instead wish to capitalise on demand by renting out a room in your own home, a business mentality is essential.

Legal Requirements

Whether you are renting a room in your main home or purchasing a buy-to-let property, there are certain legal responsibilities that you must adhere to in relation to tax, health and safety, and tenants. Before venturing in to the market, it is important that you are well aware of your responsibilities. Gov.uk offers this guide on being a landlord and renting out a room, which covers deposit protection schemes, tenancy agreements, possession claims, evictions, and more. Take the time to read each of the sections in the guide and familiarise yourself with what being a landlord requires.

Mortgage Advice

If you are purchasing a buy-to-let property, it is essential that you think from a business standpoint. A good rental property is not necessarily somewhere that you would like to live yourself, but somewhere that is appealing to a tenant, with good transport links and within close proximity to local amenities. When funding your buy-to-let investment, it is crucial that you seek advice from an independent mortgage advisor. While most banks and building societies offer buy-to-let mortgages, some of the best deals do not exist on the high street and can only be found through a whole-market broker. Unbiased.co.uk is a great place to find an independent financial adviser in your area.

Letting Agents

Buy-to-let can be a minefield of red tape and it is important that you do your homework before entering in to the market. From tenant deposit schemes to ensuring items of furniture comply with fire regulations, there is a lot to take in as a first time landlord, so the help of a letting agent could be vital. As well as the finer details of being a landlord, a letting agent will also be able to provide you with advice on potentially lucrative areas to rent. Find a good letting agent through the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

Insurance

As a landlord you will need adequate insurance to cover the building and contents (if the home is furnished), and your rental income – especially in the early days. Insurance deals differ greatly depending on your preferences and your circumstances. LandlordExpert.co.uk offers a good directory of insurance brokers across all areas of the UK.

Inventory

While it is not a legal requirement, an inventory is something you should definitely not overlook as a landlord. An inventory is a listing of all the contents of a property and the condition of the property, designed to help monitor the condition of the contents/property before a tenant moves in and just before they leave. The inventory is signed by both landlord and tenant and works as an agreement between both parties, making clear what damages need to be paid out of a deposit and eliminating possible disputes. It is in the best interests of you as the landlord and your tenants that the inventory is carried out by a professional third-party inventory clerk; this ensures thorough documents, as well as photographic and video evidence.

Photo source flickr: Simon Cunningham.

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