The Private Rental Sector (PRS) has grown considerably since the turn of the Millennium with more people choosing to rent than ever before. The changing social trends and the need for a mobile workforce have brought about the need for housing to be offered in a variety of tenures, making Buy-To- Let a full fledged industry.
Whether you’re a seasoned landlord with 20 plus years experience or a first time investor, investing in property is a long term venture, below are my 5 rules for success.
1) Location, location, location
It’s the old adage of location which is the main reason people will choose to rent your property. Just like at school- do your homework and get to know your subject inside out. Check out the area to see what’s on offer in terms of amenities, its demographic, supply and demand and what the average rental values are for the type of property you are looking to invest in. This will give you a clear indication of what the competition is up to so that you can set up your stall.
2) Look after your tenant(s)
In essence, your tenant is your customer and if they’re not happy they vote with their feet. Striking a balance is crucial to your long term profitability. Should a tenant wish to continue staying in the property and they’ve looked after the place, they should be encouraged to stay. Putting the rent up each year is not always the best strategy. Local property markets always work in cycles, though in times of suppressed demand keeping the rent at the same level for a reliable tenant with whom you’ve enjoyed a good working relationship, is worth its weight in gold. It could well be that if the tenant vacates due to a proposed rent increase, you could incur a lengthy void period with the loss of income, mortgage and service charge demands to meet. This could make an otherwise profitable business model in to a loss maker.
3) Time is of the essence
Should your tenant give notice to vacate, use this window of time to plan ahead for maintenance and repairs. Throughout the year, there are seasonal shifts in demand, so don’t take it for granted that the property will rent out quickly. It’s always wise to check what supply and demand is like at the time so that you are competitive with the rest of the local market. Most people will not be flexible to visit during the day, therefore it’s worth sparing a bit of your time on evenings and weekends to be accommodating to prospective tenants who may well be the people you rent to. This will also create a good first impression to viewers. During the notice period, it’s worth visiting to make note of any improvements or repairs that are needed before you hand the keys over to your new tenant. Have your trades get their quotes in at the earliest convenience, and if they are any good, they’ll be busy, so book them in advance. Although time is precious, ensure that your prospective tenant has been thoroughly vetted (including their Right to Rent status) and that all references have been verified. Once satisfied, my advice to all my landlords is meet your tenant(s). This is an ice breaker and will go some way in establishing your relationship from the outset.
4) Keeping up appearances
When a prospective tenant is being shown round a place, what they see is indicative of what their living experience in the property is likely to be. With the PRS growing at the rate it has, competition among landlords has never been greater. If you’ve had a long term tenant, its par for the course that the place will need a fresh coat of paint and flooring to be replaced in cases where it can’t be cleaned or is worn. Redecoration every 3-4 years is good practice, dependent on the condition and turnover of occupants. Apply neutral colours to give the broadest appeal, a newly decorated place will create the right atmosphere. More serious issues such as damp or mould should be addressed fully, patch up jobs and sticking plasters are a false economy and will create bigger problems in the long term. Kitchens and bathrooms are crucial areas, even if they are a little dated, reseal all sinks and bath/shower tray surrounds and re-grout tiles if need be. Check that all kitchen unit doors open/close properly, adjust or replace hinges as needed. Get the place thoroughly cleaned to include windows inside and out, de-scale all sinks and taps, steam clean carpets and upholstery. The more attractive a place is, the more likely your tenant(s) will look after it as if were their own. This will enhance your tenant’s living experience and is likely to keep them in the property for longer periods, having a strengthening effect in your yields.
Weather you let rooms in a HMO or a luxury penthouse, tenants want things to work. Apart from the mandatory compliance, a more detailed analysis is needed. Check that there are no leaking taps, broken door handles, the toilet flushes properly and appliances are all in good working order. Something as simple as a broken light fitting or a blown light bulb, can plant a seed of doubt in a tenants mind. It’s worth creating a folder with manuals for the appliances and keep those warranties in a safe place – you never know when you’ll need them.
It’s important to assure tenants that any maintenance matters that may arise will be dealt with swiftly and that you advise them of who to contact in any given situation. Taking a pragmatic and pro active approach will ensure you provide a high level of service to your tenants, saving you time and money.
So until the next time – happy letting!
If you are looking for an agent with experience that can help you find the right purchaser or tenant for your property, then contact me to find out how we can get the best out of your home or investment property. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 020 7435 0420. Pop in for a chat – we are based at Ashmore Residential, 5 Netherby Gardens, Oakwood, Enfield, EN2 7PA . There is plenty of parking and the kettle is always on.
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