If you don’t consider yourself a seasoned professional in the rental market, letting your first property can be a daunting task, and there are many important factors to consider before putting it on the market. So, whether you’ve decided to finally take the plunge and invest in your first rental property, or you’ve acquired it unexpectedly or through a change in circumstances, we’ve put together a helpful guide to see you through your first lettings experience!
Our top tips for first-time landlords
Do your homework
First thing’s first, get to know the property market you’re dealing with. Research similar properties in the local area and find out how much they are asking to be let for each month. This will give you an initial idea in terms of what monthly income you could expect – if your rent is set too high or too low, you may find your property a little tricky to let. It’s also important to think about your target demographic, so consider for whom your property would be suitable; for example, students, young professionals or families. Once you’ve established this, work with a lettings agent to set a competitive price and aim to keep your property occupied for as much of the year as possible, so to avoid rental void periods (the vacant period between tenancies).
Prepare your property
Whether you’ve just purchased your first rental property, you’ve decided to move out and let your own home or you choose to retain an inherited property, it’s important to leave the property in good order, ready for its next occupants. Your property will be instantly more attractive to prospective tenants if it’s had a fresh lick of paint, been well maintained and is fully repaired. If there’s any jobs – like new flooring, or decorative snags that need doing, ensure they are done prior to property viewings. You also need to decide whether to let your property furnished or unfurnished. This could be a big factor, especially if you own a home in a city, where tenants might be specifically looking for one or the other. It’s possible to offer both options, so speak with your lettings agent for further advice.
Recognise your responsibilities
By letting your home, you’ll go from being a homeowner/occupier to a landlord. With this new status comes great responsibility, so it’s important to brush up on the basics. In the first instance, check that your mortgage allows you to let out your property, as some mortgage agreements include caveats to prevent homes from being rented. If you have any doubts, your mortgage agreement should stipulate your terms, or you can call through to your mortgage lender, who will be happy to advise you.
If you choose not to have your property managed by a lettings agency, you need to be prepared to manage and maintain the tenancy (and your relationship with your tenants) yourself. You will need to be on call and proactive for any potential issues, such as a broken boiler or a gas leak. You will be accountable for arranging and overseeing all repairs, maintenance and any refurbishment of the interior and exterior of the property. Click here if you’re interested in finding out more about our Property Management services.
Make insurance a priority
There are tons of insurance products on the market, so first-time landlords can be forgiven for not realising the difference between typical home cover and landlord-specific cover. Your existing builds and contents insurer must be made aware of your intention to let your property, as it’s likely that your policy will need amending. While landlord-specific insurance isn’t a legal requirement, it is advisable as the policy will protect the building, your tenants and your investment as a whole - some policies will also pay out if your tenant misses their rental payments.
Tick off all legal requirements
When it comes to being a landlord, there are several regulations you must comply with. At the start of the tenancy agreement, landlords must carry out right to rent checks in line with immigration laws, protect deposits and have all the essential paperwork in place.
Gas safety checks are imperative and must be completed every year. It is also a good idea to have all your electrical appliances and wiring tested regularly so that you can rest assured your property – and its new tenants – are safe. In addition, it’s important to make sure that your property has a sufficient number of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each floor. Your managing agent or Property Manager will be able to assist you in arranging all of these things or will arrange them on your behalf.
By law, you will also require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – your estate agent won’t market your property for let unless one has been done. New legislation means that your property must present at least a grade ‘E’, otherwise, you may need to carry out some maintenance work to improve its rating. Again, your letting agent or Property Manager will arrange this to be done for you.
Make sure you choose the right lettings agent
If you’re hoping to make your first experience as a landlord stress-free, it’s important to use an agent to manage your property and guide you through everything you need to know. A good lettings agency will help take away the stress of finding suitable tenants and also ensure your property is compliant following any legislation changes.
Romans’ lettings teams and property managers are experienced and trained professionals who are dedicated to managing rental properties on a daily basis.
If you would like a rental valuation, or wish to find out more about how they can help you manage your first experience as a landlord, contact your local property experts on 01344 985 870.
Book your rental valuation, here!