20 top tips for landlords... Surprisingly it's often the small things that can make a big difference!

20 top tips for landlords… Surprisingly it’s often the small things that can make a big difference!

Here are 20 top tips for being a better landlord, from the experts at Belvoir…

1. Clean sweep

“Before the tenancy starts, a thorough cleaning of the property is essential,” says proprietor of Belvoir Macclesfield Rosemary Millican. “This sets the standard you expect when they leave.”

2. Critical condition

“The better the property looks, the better quality of tenant it will attract,” says proprietor of Belvoir Skipton Peter Johnson. “Good presentation is crucial and lightly dressing a property really helps, for example with curtains, blinds and lightshades.”

Proprietor of Belvoir Luton Adrian Mason agrees. “The best presented properties get the best tenants,” he says. “Ensure you present your property to its full potential – this should help secure a longer tenancy, good tenants and a good price. Your local letting specialist should be able to advise you.”

3. Key communication

“Good communication is key,” says proprietor of Belvoir Birmingham Central Major Mahil. “Regular communication between the landlord or agent and tenant will help any issues that arise during the tenancy to be dealt with proactively.”

4. Essential information

“Ensure your tenant is given all the essential paperwork when they move in,” advises Rosemary Millican, proprietor of Belvoir Macclesfield. “We find that it is helpful to supply the tenant with a ring binder which includes all the necessary paperwork, such as the EPC, Gas safety certificate, tenancy agreement and copies of appliance manuals etc.”

Proprietor of Belvoir Southend-on-Sea Wayne Mearns adds, “A set of guidelines would be useful to a new tenant. For example, where does the rubbish go and what day do the dustbin collections occur?”

5. Service skills

“Don’t forget that tenants are essentially paying your mortgage for you, or giving you an income if you’re lucky enough not to have a mortgage, so treat them well and keep them in,” says proprietor of Belvoir Cheadle Darragh Lee.

6. Be prepared

“A good landlord should ensure they have thought of all eventualities and have plans in place should problems arise,” advises the proprietor of Belvoir Hitchin Luke Mason. “Sometimes things can go wrong, so thinking ahead is likely to save money in the long run.”

7. Dress to impress

“Maximise the impact of first impressions at a viewing by addressing the finer details,” says proprietor of Belvoir Sheffield Rick Flay. “Even items such as window dressings, curtain poles and door handles can indicate the level of wear and tear on a property. First impressions count for everything and improving or updating the look of your rental property will not only help attract a tenant more quickly, but could also help increase the rental value.”

8. Tenancy trouble-shooting

“If any problems occur, starting a dialogue early with your tenant can help prevent any issues escalating,” advises the proprietor of Belvoir Maccelsfield Rosemary Millican.

Mike Campbell of Belvoir Falkirk agrees and says, “Landlords should be firm but fair. They should foster good positive communication with their tenants, plus remember that accidents do happen and therefore not overreact when they occur.”

9. Good timing

“Timing of rental payments should be established before the tenant moves in,” says proprietor of Belvoir Southend-on-Sea Wayne Mearns. “When will the payment leave the tenants account to show in the landlords account? This needs to be clear from the outset to avoid any misunderstandings.”

10. Visiting rights

“It’s important that the landlord visits the property regularly,” says Rosemary Millican. “At Belvoir Macclesfield we always visit every three months as a minimum. Always write to the tenant and give them as much notice as possible, plus phone the day before the visit to check they received the letter. This personal contact and chatting to the tenant helps maintain a good relationship.”

11. In the bank

“Be aware of hidden costs,” says the proprietor of Belvoir Bedford Zoe Bywater. “Plus, ensure you are financially covered for unforeseen eventualities, such as a void period and/or maintenance.”

12. Realistic returns

“Landlords should recognise that rents go down as well as up and they should be realistic,” says Mike Campbell of Belvoir Falkirk. “Occupancy is key. Just because a property let for a certain figure last time, it doesn’t mean that it will next time. Always assess the market and ask a specialist agent.”

13. Payment problems

“If the rent is late, talk to your tenant as soon as possible,” advises Rosemary Millican of Belvoir Macclesfield. “Don’t assume they are deliberately not paying. It could simply be a bank error and they will want to be told so this can be corrected.”

14. Business plan

“Being a landlord should be treated as a business, and it’s important that you don’t get too attached to the property,” says Zoe Bywater of Belvoir Bedford.

Mike Campbell agrees. “Landlords should view tenants as customers and treat them as such,” he says. “Also bear in mind that it costs less to retain good customers than it does to recruit new ones.”

15. Market research

“Before investing, know your market,” says Adrian Mason of Belvoir Luton. “Talk to your local letting specialist to determine your tenant requirements. Families have different expectations to young professionals, for example.”

16. Rental review

“To ensure your investment keeps pace with market values make sure your rent is reviewed at least annually,” says proprietor of Belvoir Bury St Edmunds Patsy Day. “If you decide not to increase it in order to reward/keep a good tenant, then it’s important that you let them know. This will build goodwill and loyalty and may encourage your tenant to stay longer and take extra care of the property.”

17. Important insurance

“Take out Rent and Legal Insurance,” says Zoe Bywater of Belvoir Bedford. “In this current climate circumstances can change and insurance is there as a precautionary measure. The cost of the policy is likely to be far lower than the estimated costs if the tenant falls into arrears.”

18. Long-term relationships

“Don’t take long-term tenants for granted,” warns Rosemary Millican of Belvoir Macclesfield. “When you visit, consider if furnishings/decor need updating. Are these things which would be done if the tenants moved out? If so, you may retain that tenant for much longer by doing them now.”

19. Maintenance matters

“Landlords should be mindful of their legal obligation to repair and to act quickly when something needs fixing,” says Mike Campbell of Belvoir Falkirk.

Rosemary Millican agrees, “Respond quickly to any maintenance issues and keep the tenant informed if there are any delays in getting work done – tenants are more likely to stay longer and treat the property well if the landlord looks after them in this way.”

20. Agent help

“Put your ‘trust’ in a good agent, such as Belvoir,” advises Major Mahil of Belvoir Birmingham Central. “Delegate the authority and let them get on with doing their professional work.”

Proprietor of Belvoir Kettering Harpreet Garcha agrees, concluding, “An agent’s help can be invaluable in finding a tenant, managing the tenancy and retaining the tenant. Ensure you use a regulated agent who has a proper re-dress scheme and protects deposits.”