Top Tips For First-Time Landlords
More and more younger investors are deciding to become landlords, for the first time. Some new landlords are even investing in buy-to-let before purchasing a home of their own. There are many benefits to becoming a landlord young.
Done right, this could be an investment that enables you to make the long-term steady profit required to secure that #DreamHome of your own one day. Whatever your motivations for becoming a landlord for the first time, here are some tips from our property team to get you started the right way.
Market your property seriously
You’re going to want to find appropriate tenants for your property as soon as possible, to avoid making any profit losses. It could also be important to you to find long-term tenants, to avoid instability in the future. To do that, you’re going to need to deploy some tip-top marketing skills. There are a number of ways you can show off your property in the best light. First and foremost, take attractive and numerous photographs of the property’s interior and exterior to display online or in the estate agency you choose. Make sure the property is clean and tidy before taking the pictures and the lighting is nice and bright (early afternoon can be a good time to achieve lovely lighting). It could even be worth enlisting the help of a professional photographer. This is an expense, but a worthwhile one as you’ll be able to utilise these images for years to come.
In addition to good quality pictures that accurately display your property and its main features, you could consider offering a floorplan so potential tenants can understand exactly how big the property is and the space in general. This can drastically cut down on inappropriate viewings that are a waste of time for everybody involved.
Aside from visuals, you’ll also need to clearly express the details of your property in written form, along with useful information about the area such as local amenities, transport links, schools and so forth. Knowing the area is important here (an estate agent can help). Don’t forget to think outside the box. If your property is close to a famous landmark, for example, potential tenants should be made aware of that!
Enlist the right help
Particularly if you’ve purchased a property in an area you’re not too familiar with, it’s important to have some local experts on your side. That’s not to mention all the legal technicalities that come with being a landlord - getting something even a little bit wrong (e.g. a local council regulation) could leave you with a huge bill to pay! Hiring a local estate agent with a good reputation will be a life-saver. Do your research, meet with local agents and find somebody you trust.
Appearances are everything
If you want your tenants to pay top dollar, you’ll need to keep the property not just well-maintained but looking bright and fresh. Never underestimate a good old-fashioned coat of paint, a few modern prints on the walls (this will also dissuade tenants from hanging their own frames AKA nail holes) and, if the property is to come furnished, some nice new furniture (hello IKEA!). Added interiors are also a nice touch. A few candles or a fluffy rug can make all the difference and convey to your tenants just how serious you are about keeping their new home in pristine condition. If they see you make an effort, they’re more likely to as well.
Set reasonable prices
It can be tempting to set a premium price for your rental. Being fair and reasonable will, however, be more rewarding in the long-run when you secure loyal tenants who pay their rent each month on time. Instead of looking to make short-term profits, cap rent at a reasonable price and you’ll reap the benefits over time.
It’s natural for landlords to want to set restrictions - no smokers, no students, no pets, and so forth. While this is fair and it’s your property at the end of the day, being a little flexible can pay off as it can help you to find truly responsible long-term tenants. Do you really want to turn away somebody with a secure well-paid job and excellent rental references just because they have a cat, small dog or goldfish? Maybe not! It’s something to think about.
A few more tips for first-time landlords...
- Listen to your tenants and be responsive and quick to resolve any problems they might have
- Avoid void periods by listing your property on the market at least eight weeks before it’s going to be vacant again
- Stay legal. Be sure to convert your mortgage to a buy-to-let one or obtain consent to let from your current lender. There are a number of other legalities that must be checked up on, such as whether you need freeholder’s permission before renting.
- Sort out your taxes. Speaking to an accountant about how to keep on top of things is your best bet.
- Enjoy! Being a landlord can be a truly rewarding investment and allow you to build good relationships with your tenants. Have a bit of fun with it.
Navigating the confusing world of buy-to-let can be a little tricky. If you are a first-time or seasoned landlord, it could be worth enlisting the assistance of an experienced property lawyer to help you out. If you’d like to chat with a friendly member of GWlegal’s property team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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Content correct at time of publication.