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Landlord Advice: A Guide to Keeping Your Investment Safe

Tags:
  • landlord,
  • landlords,
  • property,
  • renting,
  • tenants

Letting out your property can be daunting!

While rare, all landlords have heard stories of tenants damaging furniture, falling behind on rent payments and upsetting the neighbours.

How can you ensure this doesn’t happen to you?

Here’s a guide to keeping your investment safe.

Vet All Potential Tenants

The first step is the tenancy vetting process.

This is essential, as you’ll want to ensure that rent will not only be paid on time, but that your property will be looked after.

A reference will look into a potential tenant’s background, finding out information such as:

  • Proof of address
  • Bank details
  • Reference from previous landlord
  • Proof of identity
  • Employer’s details
  • Right to rent

In short – you want to ensure that all potential tenants are who they say they are. If everything checks out, this will give you some peace of mind.

Often, your letting agent will be able to arrange a vetting for you. However, if you’re renting your property out privately, always use a professional tenancy referencing company.

Right to rent checks are another hugely vital part of this process. Landlords have previously been fined for non-compliance.

But, of course, a tenant reference isn’t all you need to protect your property.

Ask for a Guarantor

Most landlords will ask for guarantor. However, particularly if you’re a new landlord, you might not recognise the importance of this.

Should a tenant be unable to afford rent for any reason, the guarantor can be contacted in such situations.

Always ensure the guarantor has a stable employment, and run a credit check also. This way, you’ll have reassurances that you won’t be out of pocket.

In some instances, the tenant’s chosen guarantor might be retired. You could either ask them to choose a new one, or, ask for a higher deposit. For example, this could amount to a total of six months rent.

In the unlikely circumstance that your tenant is unable to pay rent, it’s important to show some level of understanding. This helps to build up a harmonious relationship between landlord and tenant.

However, always take care to prioritise your investment first!

Ask for a Reasonable Deposit

All landlords are aware of the importance of deposits. But, take care when deciding the amount! There are some deposit rules all landlords should know.

Setting the deposit amount too high will alienate tenants, or cause them to look elsewhere.

On the other hand, you’ll want to sleep easier at night in the knowledge you’re covered. Take into account the rent you’re charging, as well as the costs of repairing any potential damage. For example, asking for a pet deposit if your tenant plans to rent with a pet.

But, it’s important to remember that in recent years, there have been efforts to make renting more affordable. Therefore, deposits can’t be too costly for tenants.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme also helps protect landlords. In the event of a disagreement with tenants at the end of the tenancy, there’s a disputes services that provides impartial guidance.

Once you’ve placed the deposit in the relevant scheme, inform your tenants of the details of this. The more communicative you are with your tenants, the better!

Have a Clear Tenancy Agreement

Tenancy agreements are an essential piece of equipment to help you protect your investment.

So, one essential piece of landlord advice is to have this documentation written down. Everything should be clearly recorded, so your tenants know exactly what’s expected of them.

This will help prevent disputes or confusion later on down the line. The devil’s in the detail, as they say!

If possible, go through the agreement with them, or have your letting agent do it. You’ll want to ensure you’ve covered all bases! When it comes to renting, clarity is everything. Don’t hand over any keys until you have their signature.

You may also like: How Much Rent Should I Charge My Tenants?

 

Make a Good First Impression

You want your property left in the same condition as when you rented it out, right?

So, ensure it’s presented to tenants in perfect condition! If you want your property to be respected, you’ll have to show you also respect it. It’s a two-way street.

First impressions count for a lot. So, the same applies to you! Try to establish a good relationship from the beginning. Always come across as professional, but approachable also. This way, tenants are more likely to look after your property!

Tighten Up Home Security

Keeping your investment safe doesn’t stop when you hand the keys over! In fact, far from it.

Remember, it’s important to change the locks regularly. If possible, change these between each tenancy. You never know who might have a set of keys!

Treat security for your rental property as you would your own home. Plus, make sure tenants are clued up on any safety measures you want to implement. These may include:

  • Informing them of how to set the alarm (if there is one) and when you would like it set
  • Asking them not to ‘hide’ keys outside
  • Asking them to leave lights on if no one is in the property
  • Showing them how to lock windows

It can be nerve-wracking to entrust your property to a tenant, as it’s difficult to know whether they’re implementing correct safety measures. However, it’s important to remember that this is their home too! Inform them of their responsibilities and what you expect, but don’t mistrust them until you have reason to.

Get Landlords Insurance

Ensure all the appropriate insurance is in place!

From accidents to damage to your investment, there are a number of risks involved with being a landlord. The good news is that, if you have the right financial cover, you won’t be left to deal with any problems alone.

Insurance you’ll need includes:

  • Buildings – to cover damage to the property
  • Contents – particularly important if you’re providing a full furnished property

Landlords insurance should also cover:

  • Emergency assistance
  • Legal expenses protection

Some landlords also buy rent guarantee insurance. This covers unpaid rent while the tenant is still living in the property, and the cost of repossessing it.

Visit the Property Regularly

Landlord inspections are essential. These will allow you to check on the wear and tear of the property, and ensure tenants are meeting their contractual agreements.

Also, visiting the property will allow you to prevent any damage. For example, if you see any mould growing, you can advise your tenants on the best way to get rid of it. Of course, always inform them that taking care of the property is their responsibility, but give help where you can.

Rules are in place for when landlords are allowed to visit their property. For example, you must give at least 24 hours notice. Always pay attention to those!

Be Attentive to Repairs

As mentioned earlier, respect is earned.

So, if you want tenants to look after your property, you must be attentive.

Deal with maintenance issues as soon as possible. If there’s been a delay for any reason, inform your tenants of the steps you’re taking to sort out the problem.

Keep Communication Open

In any tenancy, communication is key.

The more open and communicative you are with your tenant, the better.

This way, you’ll know they’re fully informed, giving you the best chance of having a good relationship.

Keep Records of All Correspondence

Whether it’s emails or post, keep records of all written correspondence. If you inform your tenant of something, follow it up with an email.

This helps cover all bases! You don’t want your tenant to accuse you of not having informed them of something, only to find out you have no record that you did.

For example, if you send them details about which scheme you placed their deposit in, ensure they reply with confirmation they received this.

Do Everything By the Book

Don’t give your tenants any excuse to mistreat your property, or make a claim against you!

Ensure all your landlord health and safety obligations are carried out. For example, smoke alarms should be installed on every floor of the property.

While your tenant has a responsibility to look after your property, you have a responsibility to look after them.

Have a Detailed Inventory

An inventory is one of the most important pieces of a landlord’s armour!

Inventories take pictures and keep record of everything to do with property, from fittings to fixtures. They will detail the condition of the property at both check in and check out.

While many landlords see them as a way to solve disputes at the end of a tenancy, they’re actually better than that. A good inventory will prevent disagreements altogether!

This is because the best inventories are the most detailed, leaving no room for confusion. You want to ensure there have been no serious changes to your property, or the furniture.

Many landlords choose to put together an inventory themselves. However, this often results in a lack of detail.

No Letting Go can carry out an inventory for you, so you don’t have to. We’ll take the stress out of letting your property! We offer a range of services for landlords and letting agents, from inventories to smoke alarm installation. We’ll ensure you’re compliant, and that your property is protected. Find out more about our services here.

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