Letting your property should be easy, right? You provide a lovely home, find lovely tenants, they pay you every month and you watch your investment become a better and better decision every day. If only it were that simple!
In the worst of cases it can be completely the opposite- many first time and even experienced landlords find themselves with tenants who don’t pay, maintenance nightmares and a property that becomes a headache to manage.
Instead of going it on your own, why not learn how to avoid a few common mistakes? The following are some of the best tips to follow before you take the plunge and list your property to let.
Be the Best Landlord you Can Be
It makes perfect sense- this process only works if you hold up your end of the bargain. But how can you be a better landlord?
Well, put yourself in the mind-set of a tenant. Surely you’ve let at some point in the past- what were your needs and wishes? All tenants want to find a home in good repair, with everything in working order. They want to have a transparent contract in which they can count on the owner of the property to adhere to all clauses and stipulations.
Before showing your place, do a thorough inspection to ensure everything is in working order- plumbing, electrical, heating, even door hinges and the condition of the paint. Repair anything that doesn’t work before moving someone in. You’ll be saving yourself the hassle of a maintenance request phone call and sending someone out to fix something in an occupied unit.
Take the time to read through your contract to ensure you’re able to comply with each and every term. Have you promised to cover expenses related to normal wear and tear? Does the contract stipulate that you schedule repairs within 48 hours of reporting? These are things you need to follow through with, or run the risk of unhappy tenants who are less likely to pay on time.
Lastly, do be sure your listing clearly represents the property and its condition. You won’t want to waste your time showing the place to people arriving expecting to find something different. And check your sales tactics- even if you’re able to convince someone to move into a place they may not be 100% sold on, chances are they’ll move out the first chance they get.
Screen your Tenants Correctly
One of the hardest things in the landlord-tenant relationship, believe it or not, is having a big heart. We all want to help the struggling family who needs a place to live, or the charming elderly couple who can easily convince you they’ve got nowhere else to go. The problem is, it’s not your problem.
If you have interested tenants that don’t meet your requirements, you simply have to move on. It may sound heartless, but keep this in mind: the most accurate indicator of future behaviour is how someone has behaved in the past. Anyone who has filed for bankruptcy, been habitually late on their rent, has poor credit or is in significant debt is not likely to change now.
You want tenants who easily meet your requirements; not those who will have to stretch and scrimp and save to make it all work. Finding tenants who meet your requirements on paper is also one of the easiest ways to avoid discrimination. You have strict letting guidelines and by adhering to them you avoid any accusation that you’ve been unfair or shown preference for anyone.
Moving Someone In
In line with the proper selection of tenants, make sure your move-in is by the books. There will be no keys delivered until all fees, deposits, etc. have been paid.
Meet your tenant at the property to do a proper walk-through of the home, noting the condition of each and every fixture and furnishing, in writing. This will help protect you in case of any dispute or damages done by the tenants. With a bit of luck, you’ll have foreseen any maintenance issues, but this can also be a time to note any repairs that need to be made immediately.
Stick to your Rules
From the very first month, make it be known that rent must be paid on time each and every time. What happens if you let a week slide, or agree to be paid next Friday, “just this once”? You immediately become known as the nice landlord who doesn’t mind if tenants pay late, and yes, it will happen time and time again.
Do collect the corresponding late fees to show your tenants you mean business.
Treat your Tenants Well
Have great tenants? Let them know! Sometimes a simple thank you card around Christmas or even a token gift can go a long way. Remember that this is a business arrangement, and happy tenants mean you’ll have rent steadily flowing in each month. The longer you can keep people there the less often you’ll have to go through the entire tenant selection process.
Keep your property in good repair, be available and keep the lines of communication open. You’ll be much more likely to retain good people who look after your property.
Consider a Property Management Company
If you can’t manage the entire letting process yourself, consider a property management company. These are agencies that can help with you with every aspect of the process, from finding good tenants to collecting payments and handling maintenance issues. Sometimes it can be well worth the monthly fee to leave the management in someone else’s hands.
As a Last Resort, Ditch the Property
If, in spite of your best efforts, your property simply isn’t profitable or is a royal pain to maintain, it may be time to consider selling it. Consider whether you’d ever live in the home yourself or if it might be useful to own in the future. If you don’t see the potential, why not put it on the market? You don’t even have to use a standard high street estate agent to help you sell it; an online estate agent can do the same and often for much less.
Article Courtesy of: http://www.egonlineestateagents.co.uk/