The experts at Belvoir reveal 10 golden rules for landlords in 2017…

Have you made your resolutions for the year ahead? If not, here are 10 handy resolutions and their solutions to help keep your tenants happy and your investment healthy this year.

1. Financial thoughts

“Make 2017 the year you take a closer look at your incomings and outgoings,” says owner of Belvoir Birmingham Central Major Mahil. “Undertaking a financial review will help you understand how your asset is performing, plus it will allow you to identify where savings can be made.

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“What is your yield? Have you discovered the best mortgage deal for your current circumstances? Is the rental return in line with market conditions? Are contractors and agents proving value for money?

“Always remember, however, cutting corners in order to cut costs rarely results in long-term gains. Plus, if the figures don’t add up, don’t be afraid to release your asset in order to reinvest.”

2. Time to talk

“How often do you talk to your tenant?” asks owner of Belvoir Nuneaton and Hinckley and co-owner of Belvoir Tamworth Clayton Foston. “Clear and concise communication is vital for a healthy landlord/tenant relationship. It allows you to deliver key messages about the property and your expectations, it helps avoid disputes arising from misunderstandings, plus it enables each party to understand the other’s responsibilities.

“In addition, regular communication will help a tenant feel that they are able to ask questions when needed and they will be more likely to report issues at the property as soon as they arise.”

3. File style

“De-cluttering your admin can help create a clutter-free mind so being proactive and organised with your paperwork is a fundamental part of any investment landlord’s role,” says Major.

“Ensure you know where all documentation relating to the property and tenancy is, plus create a filing system that works for you. Make sure all key contact details are included too and that these are up to date. If you have a large portfolio of properties, ensure each has its own filing space and place.

“Creating a successful admin system will allow easy access to key documents when needed and will be particularly helpful when filling out your tax return, renewing gas safety certificates, dealing with tenancy disputes or in emergencies when you need to locate paperwork at speed.”

4. Visiting time

“Inspections are a key tool in a landlord’s armoury so if you’re not currently paying regular visits to your property make sure 2017 is the year you start,” says Clayton.

“Regular inspections (preferably once a quarter) will allow you to find out what’s going on behind closed doors, including assessing any essential maintenance needs which need troubleshooting before they escalate.

“They will also enable you to ensure that your tenant is living within the terms of the Tenancy Agreement and that no people or pets have been moved in without your knowledge, sub-letting isn’t occurring, and no malicious damage or other undesirable behaviour is taking place.

“Additionally, inspections are a great vehicle for strengthening the landlord/tenant relationship and open up a dialogue so questions can be asked and answered.

“Always agree a mutually convenient time for the visit and confirm in writing (with a minimum of 48 hours notice) prior to the inspection date.”

5. Maintenance MOT

“Undertaking a thorough annual maintenance MOT is advisable,” says Major. “In addition to your inspections, this annual assessment will give you the opportunity to stop preventable maintenance problems before they start.

“During your MOT check that guttering, drains and downpipes are clear from debris, all roof tiles are secure and snug, the boiler service has been carried out, plus adequate ventilation is minimising condensation. Look out for evidence of leaks and drips too, including brown staining to ceilings and walls.

“Creating a MOT checklist such as this will enable you to prevent commonplace maintenance issues from arising and help minimise avoidable problems (and maintenance bills) in the year to come.”

6. Home improvements

“Update and refresh your property this year in order to ensure that it’s moving with the market and retaining its resale value,” advises Clayton.

“Freshen up paint work, pointing, carpets, fixtures and fittings to deliver a timeless contemporary look which will appeal to today’s tenants. If the property is occupied always be mindful about your tenant’s position and privacy.

“If budget allows (and your property is currently empty) think about larger projects too. Is the bathroom or kitchen looking dated and tired? Could you create extra space and value from adding an extension, conservatory or attic/cellar conversion?

“Making small investments now could potentially add pounds to your property’s resale value later.”

7. Compare and contrast

“In order to understand how well your property is performing within the market it’s important to assess the competition,” says Major.

“Research the rental market locally and identify properties which are similar in size and style to your own.

“What do they offer which yours doesn’t? Is your pricing on point or are you undervaluing your asset?

“Take a step back and objectively compare and contrast: What are you already doing well? What areas could you improve on? Plus, what ideas and inspiration could be utilised from those landlords who are currently making the most of their investment?”

8. Meet and greet

“In fact, networking with other landlords is a great way to learn more about what you’re doing right… and wrong,” adds Clayton.

“Sharing skills, stories and knowledge is a useful way to find out more about the industry while gaining support from others who are in a similar position to yourself.

“Find out if there is a network group locally or log on for some cyber support from online landlord networks and forums.

“Attending property-related events, conferences and exhibitions can also be a fantastic way to meet and greet other landlords and benefit from their experiences.”

9. Forward thinking

“Knowing what your investment is for, how long you’re committing to it, plus the exit path you are likely to take is essential,” says Major.

“It’s impossible to successfully maximise an asset’s investment potential unless you know what you’re trying to achieve, whether that be short-term rental return or long-term capital gains.

“As part of your forward planning it’s also important to find out what your tenant’s plans and predictions are likely to be for the year ahead,” he continues. “Are they intending to stay at your property or are they looking to move on? Being aware of your tenant’s future thoughts will allow you to forward plan your re-marketing strategy without delay.”

10. Agents on hand

“If you’re short of time, low on energy or simply want a helping hand with your rental property talk to your local letting agent,” says Clayton.

“A letting agent can carry out inspections for you, organise maintenance work and contractors as needed, communicate with the tenant on your behalf, plus troubleshoot emergencies.

“They can also make certain your property is moving with market conditions, both in terms of its desirability to tenants and rental pricing plan.

“In fact, whether you have one property or a large portfolio, a good agent can look after all aspects of the tenancy and its management in order to ensure that your investment has a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.”

Article Courtesy of: Belvoir

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