How to manage a rental property
As a landlord, you’ll want to enjoy a consistent and reliable income from your rental property by making sure it is constantly let. One of the best ways to prevent void periods is make sure your property is kept up to standard throughout a tenancy.
You’re providing your tenants with a place to call home, so your work doesn’t stop after they move in. Looking after a property takes some considerable time and knowledge of the private-rented sector. As well as managing your property, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your finances and obligations as a landlord.
Our experts share their top tips for managing a property, so your rental income stays secure…
Even before your tenants move in, you should be well aware of the laws around safety. If your property uses gas, the law says that you’ll to complete an annual gas safety check from a gas safe registered engineer and pass a copy of the certificate to your tenants. If your property relies on solid fuel (such as coal or wood) then you must also fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every room where this is burned, as well as fit a smoke detector on every floor.
It’s also advisable to have all electrical appliances (such as cookers and kettles) PAT tested and check that electrical systems (such as sockets and switches) are safe.
Once your tenants are in place, it’s a good idea to inspect the property every three months or so. However, you’ll always need to give your tenants at least 24 hours written notice.
Whilst at the property, walk through an inspection report to make sure that your tenants aren’t breaching any conditions of the contract, such as the number of occupants or any rules about smoking. Check that the property is being maintained and document any damage so you can arrange for repairs or maintenance work.
Your contract may specify that the landlord is responsible for maintaining certain communal areas, so make sure you review these spaces and look at the overall structure of the property for any emerging issues, such as leaks or damp.
Take the chance to ask whether your tenants are happy in the property. You’ll want to build a positive relationship and to see whether there are any other issues you might have missed.
Repairs and maintenance
Make sure your contract contains an emergency contact number should any urgent repairs be needed. Issues such as leaking pipes can quickly get out of control if they’re not dealt with straight away.
Although you might be able to handle minor repairs yourself, it’s best to hire a professional for the more complex jobs. Make sure you can call upon the services of an electrician, gas engineer and electrician when needed.
Managing your finances
As well as managing the property itself, you’ll need to monitor your finances throughout a tenancy. Before letting the property, you’ll have worked out your estimated rental yield. However, now that a tenancy is underway, you’ll need to understand how much money is coming in and out each month. This includes the rental payments (which you’ll need to make sure arrive on time every month), mortgage payments, insurance costs, taxes, utilities (if your tenants aren’t responsible), maintenance and repair costs and any fees, such as an HMO Licence.
If you’re unsure whether your property needs a licence, read our blog about licensing here and contact your local authority for more information.
Ending a tenancy
If either party serves notice on a property, you’ll need to carry out a detailed check-out procedure. This will include reviewing the initial inventory and inspecting the property for any damage incurred.
If you took a deposit at the beginning of a tenancy, you are legally required to protect it in a government-authorised scheme. Once you and your tenant have come to an agreement about the return of the deposit money, you’ll need to contact the tenancy deposit protection scheme where the money is registered and return it within 10 days. At Townends, we use my|deposits. If you cannot reach an agreement about the return of the deposit, each scheme runs a free dispute resolution service.
If you need to evict a tenant due to ongoing problems such as rent arrears, you may be able to serve a Section 21 notice. This can be done after a fixed tenancy ends if there’s a written contract, or during a tenancy with no fixed end date (also known as a periodic tenancy). If you run into any serious problems with your tenants, it’s even more important that you keep up with your legal obligations as you won’t be able to serve a Section 21 without having given your tenants a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), the gas safety certificate and the government’s ‘how to rent’ guide.
For more information about serving a Section 21 notice, visit the government’s website.
Finding a new tenant
Before you agree to a new tenant, you should always undertake detailed reference and credit checks (and Right to Rent checks if the property is in England). At Townends, we use professional referencing service The Lettings Hub.
All tenants should be thoroughly assessed, validated and verified, providing you all of the information you need to make an informed decision about who lives in your property.
Once you are happy with your chosen tenant, issue an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement so both parties are fully aware of their obligations.
Contact a professional
Landlords should also be aware of the legislation they need to comply with before, during and after a tenancy. Overall, there are over 145 laws and 400 regulations that need to be followed to legally let a property in England and Wales, so if you’re not clear about your obligations as a landlord, it’s best to appoint the services of a professional letting agent.
Our Fully Managed Plus service leaves nothing to chance, speak to our ARLA Propertymark qualified professionals about the management of your property now by booking your free valuation or call 020 3911 3673