Starting your own property management company can be tough.
As well as navigating our uncertain political and economic times, you have to deal with difficult tenants, endless repairs, rising fees, and changing legislation. In fact, it’s little wonder why so many UK-based landlords are now considering selling up and leaving the industry.
Though it’s easy to let one or two negative experiences jade your view, the buy to let sector continues to thrive and landlords can generate significant returns with the right strategy.
However, rather than focusing exclusively on making money, thinking about your customer experience and getting to know tenants on a deeper level is a one way to encourage extended tenancies and build your business, especially now tenants have more choice.
Below, we’ve put together some tips and tricks on becoming a better landlord…
As a landlord, you have several legal and ethical obligations that you must follow.
You should make sure that all of your gas and electrical equipment is checked by a registered engineer, and that fire alarms are fitted throughout the property.
Keeping tenants safe should be your ultimate priority, so don’t scrimp or try to make savings - it could come back to bite you.
Testing and maintenance are key here - make sure you schedule regular appointments to review your property and keep records of the last time appliances and alarms were tested.
Ensure your tenants understand their responsibilities, too: put it into your tenancy agreement and speak with them about ways they can improve their safety when living in your property.
Though time-consuming and tedious, property inventories are a necessary evil and protect both you and your tenants.
Work with a professional who can conduct a full inventory of your property, taking photographs and documenting every aspect of the building, from the skirting boards to the ceilings and everything in between. The more evidence you have, the better.
And let your tenants know that you’ve conducted an inventory, offering them a copy to hold onto for reference. That way, when it comes to them moving out of your home, they’ll know the standard that they’ll need to leave it in if they want to avoid fines and receive their bond.
No landlord can be expected to offer 24/7 customer support, but being responsive is a great way to stand out in today’s crowded market.
Tenants will feel more relaxed if they know they can reach out whenever there’s a problem with their boiler, so make it easy for them to get in touch with you, whether you hand over an email address, your phone number or a WhatsApp group to report issues and ask questions.
Where possible, ask tenants to text or email - that way, you’ll have a written record of all of your communications should issues arise. If you call them, follow it up with an email.
Once your tenants have signed a tenancy agreement and have moved into their new home, they are entitled to the “quiet enjoyment of the property”.
That means landlords cannot show up whenever they want to - you’ll need to give them at least 24 hours written notice before you show up to inspect the property or make repairs, unless in an emergency.
Avoid showing up late at night or early in the morning and keep all visits professional with a written notice and a follow-up email to confirm an inspection has taken place or work has been carried out. And let your tenants relax and make the most of living in your property!
It seems like there’s a story about rogue landlords in the newspapers every day of the week.
Don’t be one!
When a tenant gets in touch to report a fault or issue, set up a time to inspect the damage and arrange for a professional to fix it as soon as you can.
Something as minor as a dripping tap or a creaky floorboard can soon turn nasty, so fixing issues will not only show tenants that you care but ensure that major repairs aren’t needed.
You should also have a clear policy on repairs. Landlords are legally required to pay for and arrange necessary repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, sanitary installations, electrical systems, gas installation, heating, and hot water, but outside of that, it falls down to the tenant. Be clear on what is/is not included as part of your service and draw boundaries.
Many landlords worry about the potential damage of allowing pets into their properties.
However, turning away valuable tenants by banning pets is bad for business.
A goldfish isn’t going to chew through your skirting boards and not all cats and dogs are going to damage your carpets.
Rather than banning all pets, say that you’ll consider pets on a case-by-case basis.
If you want to protect yourself and your property, add a clause to your tenancy agreement that ensures your tenants are responsible for any damage pets may cause, and insist that they cover any bills for professional carpet cleaning at the end of their tenancy.
Nobody is saying that you should offer free rent or counselling, but being a compassionate landlord is a great way to win favour and maintain a good relationship with your tenants.
The truth is that, from time to time, all tenants will run into problems. Perhaps they’re running behind on their rent payment because their employer didn’t pay them on time, or maybe their friend needs to sleep on the sofa for a few weeks because they’ve split up with their partner.
Whatever problems you run into with your tenants, try to be compassionate and flexible - especially with the good ones.
Show them that you’re reasonable and that you care about them and their circumstances, and they’ll remember your kindness when recommending landlords and properties to their friends and family.
And when it’s time to renew their lease or for you to increase monthly rental payments, they’ll be more likely to sign up and accept.
There you have it - just some of the ways you can become a better landlord. Do you have any other tips you think we should add to this list? Let us know and check back for more.