Here are a few tips I have learned over the years on how to manage your tenancies.
Self managing landlords have an advantage over others by first of all saving massively on agents’ fees, but also by being in a position look after their tenants perhaps more attentively than most agents could, for example when things go wrong out of normal working hours.
Yes, it can be a real pain when you’re called out late, but in my experience this happens rarely and when or if it does, most tenants really appreciate having an attentive landlord. Of course, this sort of service is dependent on the landlord living close to the rental property, which is always the ideal scenario, but otherwise an agent management contract might be essential if the property is at a distance.
Experienced landlords know how important it is to keep tenants happy, that way they stay as long as possible and you avoid costly re-lettings, void periods where the property is vacant, no rent coming in, utilities suppliers to deal with and perhaps a mortgage to pay. Your tenants are your customers and should be treated as such, with courtesy and consideration.
If your fail to “manage” your tenancies well it will most likely end up costing you money, but the flip side of this is you can keep your tenants a long time, paying a full market rent if you increase them periodically. It definitely makes economic sense to do this because if you let the rent level drop too far below market values it’s then hard to catch them up – tenants won’t thank you for a really big increase. Small incremental increases to bring your rents into line with local rents over time are more easily digestible.
These are my ten top tips:
1 Make sure when advertising for new tenants your ads accurately describe the rental in a positive way to make sure you get suitable tenants applying for that type of accommodation – that way you are not wasting their time or yours.
2 Be sure to carry out thorough due diligence checks to make sure as far as is possible that you end up taking on reliable tenants with a good track record of paying rent on time and looking after landlords’ properties.
3 Get on top of the paperwork. There’s a lot of documentation now needed when you are signing up a new tenant, so make sure you are fully up-to-speed with the latest legal requirements. Make sure that all the property safety checks have been completed and that tenants are given the correct statutory information. If you are not good with this it might be time to consider using a professional letting agent.
4 Have a good inventory, ideally one produced by an independent agent or inventory clerk. Take your tenants through the property, checking off the inventory items and pointing out everything they need to know, such locations of as smoke alarms, stop taps, fuses and how to safely operate the appliances provided etc.
5 Have a comprehensive welcome pack. This should provide all the information the tenant needs to be safe in their new home, including things like cold weather precautions, how to contact you or appointed tradespeople in an emergency. The pack can also be a useful guide to the locality, shops, transport, places of interest etc.
6 Demonstrate that you are a professional landlord by showing evidence that you meet local authority standards, licencing rules, and membership of one of the main landlords’ associations is ideal. Have a property check-in and check out procedure using checklists.
7 Provide your tenants with your full contact details, email, text, mobile number so that you can be easily contacted. Always respond quickly if there is a problem when the tenants need some help. Remember, a call out is also an opportunity to cement your relationship and for you to casually inspect the property, without having to go through a formal inspection process – you can then be re-assured that all is well with the way the property is being cared for.
8 Collect rents through a standing order. There’s then no excuse for late payments and in effect the rent is paid directly out of the tenant’s earnings, going from theirs into your bank every month, that way they never miss it and you never have to knock on their door to collect it!
9 Keep up with regular maintenance and checks such as the annual gas safety check and five yearly electrical installation checks. You might consider having a maintenance contract for some of the more expensive items like gas boilers, that way if there is a break-down it can be dealt with swiftly. And of course a good landlords’ insurance policy is essential.
10 Try to be flexible and understanding of the tenant’s situation, for example during the Corvid pandemic many landlords have been accommodating when tenants have been furloughed, reducing their rents in line with the 20% reduction in wages, or at least rescheduling and delaying collections.
A good indication of whether you are getting things right with your tenancies is when your tenants leave saying thank you, you have been a good landlord. I’ve had that complement many times.