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Being a landlord for the first time can be an overwhelming prospect. However, while there are many new things to come to grips with – such as increasing regulation, lettings jargon, tenancy agreements, health and safety obligations and more – the experience can be extremely rewarding. Whether you intentionally entered the market, or fell into it by chance (along with the growing number of accidental landlords), it helps to have a helping hand from an experienced letting agent. As an established lettings agent in the Midlands, here at Centrick we provide some top tips for first-time landlords on how to get the most from your rental property while remaining on the right side of the law.
Research the local market
It’s important that you know what you are getting into, the challenges you might face and how you can avoid any potential hurdles along the way. It’s crucial to research similar properties in the local area to find out how much they are being let for per month, as well as thinking about your target demographic and whom your rental property would be suitable for. Once you’ve got the basics, you can begin your lettings journey in earnest.
Instruct the right letting agent
Having an experienced letting agent who knows the local market, can manage your rental property and will guide you through the lettings process can help to make the process run smoothly. A proficient agent will take away the stress of finding suitable tenants and also ensure your property complies with any regulatory changes.
Get the property rent-ready
It’s key that your property is well-maintained and safe for people to live in. Ensure that your home is thoroughly cleaned and all quick fixes have been made prior to putting it on the market. You will also need to decide on whether you want to let your rental property as furnished, unfurnished or part-furnished, being sure to remove any personal items or furniture.
Vet prospective tenants
Tenant referencing is an effective way to check a tenant’s credibility. This includes inspecting the tenant’s income against the rent, their employment status, credit checks, salary and length of service, referencing from their current landlord and their right to lawfully live in the UK via the Right to Rent scheme. Of course, your letting agent will be on hand to help you find the right occupants for the tenancy.
Arrange a tenancy agreement
Once you’ve found suitable tenants, it’s important that you provide them with a tenancy agreement. This will detail the duration of the tenancy, a breakdown of payments and the required notice period if the tenancy is terminated. The most common tenancy type is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). If you don’t have your own tenancy agreement, your letting agent can provide a template for sample agreements.
Be hot on compliance
As a landlord, you are legally required to prioritise your tenant’s health and safety. This means being fully aware of the regulation surrounding smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and energy efficiency, carrying out an annual gas safety check and knowing details of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. It’s also important to be up to speed with the latest rules regarding houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and section 21 notices.
Get landlord insurance
As standard house insurance policies rarely provide the level of protection landlords need, it’s worth taking out specialist landlord insurance. A good policy should cover professional tenants, students and DSS tenants, loss of rent, void periods, alternative accommodation, rent protection, accidental damage, legal expenses and liabilities.
Take a tenancy deposit
You will also need to protect your tenant’s deposit in one of the government-authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes – the Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme – within 30 days of receiving it. Of course, you will need to be mindful of the deposit caps included in the Tenant Fees Act, which we have recently covered in more detail here.
Prepare an inventory
While inventories aren’t compulsory, they are essential for reducing potential disputes over damage to the property. For this, you will need to list all fixed and freestanding items in the home, as well as their location and condition. You will also need to record any damage to each item and any existing defects at the beginning of the tenancy. It’s advisable to get an independent inventory clerk or letting agent to do it for you.
Ensure that you are organised by keeping all of your rental statements and a record of any expenses that you incurred in the course of letting your property. This is especially important as you will need these for your annual tax return. Of course, it can be tricky to understand how the tax system works for landlords, so be sure to ask your letting agent or a tax expert if you have any issues.
With more people renting for longer, causing the private rented sector to grow, now is the perfect time to be a landlord. By taking the above tips into consideration, you can prepare your rental property for new tenants and have a smooth-running tenancy with the help of your chosen letting agent.
Here at Centrick, we have the experience and expertise to guide you through your letting journey in Birmingham, Nottingham and across the Midlands. To find out more about our services for landlords, or for any advice on renting out your home, get in touch with us today. You can also request a free, instant online valuation to see how much you could be charging in rent each month.
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