Resolve to make 2018 the year when you achieve your lifestyle goals
Whether you’re a seasoned buy-to-let landlord, a beginner buy-to-let investor, or an accidental landlord, how you manage your property could be the difference between a profitable investment and a poor investment. Properties that are managed professionally tend to have the best tenant track records. Good tenants who stay a long time provide the best rental profits.
To maintain a good relationship with your tenant – and maximise your rental profits in the process – you should review your property maintenance and customer service at least once a year. What better time than at the start of a new year? These New Year’s resolutions for buy-to-let landlords will help you enjoy a successful 2018.
1. Understand the tenancy agreement
The tenancy agreement forms the legal basis of the relationship between you and your tenant. It sets out the responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord. Some landlords use tenancy agreements that you can buy off the shelf in high street shops (a big mistake, in our opinion). Some have them drawn up by solicitors. Many have them drawn up by their property manager or letting agent. Most don’t understand them.
Resolve to read every clause in your tenancy agreement, and understand each. If in doubt, shout! Ask your solicitor or investment property manager to clarify what your responsibilities are. Understand how the tenant should act. This way, you should avoid any hassle with any tenant.
2. Avoid tenants from hell
Make 2018 a year with only good tenants. Avoid the tenants from hell who damage property, fail to pay rent, and steal half your stuff when they leave without warning. There’s only one way to do this: make sure you employ the most rigorous tenant vetting procedures.
3. Build a reserve fund for all your properties
Skim off a little of your rental income and save in an emergency (or reserve) fund. If the central heating fails, or the roof leaks, you won’t stress about where you will find the funds to repair. And the last thing you want as a buy-to-let landlord is stress.
We recommend building a reserve for each property in your portfolio, with each reserve enough to cover between three and six months’ worth of costs (including the mortgage). You won’t ever fret about an unexpected void period again.
4. Keep on top of property maintenance
Ask your tenants if there are any property issues that need attending. Make a list, prioritise, and get them done. It will help to keep relations between you and the tenant on a firm footing. Also, getting small maintenance issues sorted early prevents them from becoming expensive repairs later.
A timetable of regular property inspections will help you to keep on top of both property and tenant issues.
5. Make it easy for tenants to report maintenance issues
If the tenant finds it difficult to contact you or your property manager, they are less likely to report maintenance issues. You are more likely to experience expensive repairs, and tenants that leave.
Our repair reporting system makes it easy for tenants to report maintenance issues. They can show us the problem, with photographic or video evidence. We can then assess the issue’s level of priority, and get it attended to in a timely fashion by expert tradespeople.
6. Build a relationship with your tenant
One of the best investments you can make is to commit a little time each month to building the landlord/tenant relationship. If you employ an investment property manager to manage your property for you, they should also do this.
Communicate with your tenant. Send the occasional email. Drop them a birthday card. A little effort goes a long way. The best tenants will stay longer when they know you care about them, and not just their rent cheque every month.
7. Always collect a security deposit before the tenant moves in
The tenancy deposit is your security against damage and non-payment of rent. Just because the tenant ‘looks’ genuine about paying a deposit after they have moved in, you should never allow a tenant such leeway.
Ensure that you or your property manager handles the deposit in the right way, and avoid the screw-ups that destroy tenancy deposit claims.
8. Streamline those time-consuming buy-to-let landlord responsibilities
What do you do that takes up your time the most? Visit the bank? Hunt for tradespeople with competitive quotes? Check tenants’ backgrounds?
Figure out what it is that costs you valuable time, and figure out how to streamline the process. Should you collect rent by direct credit? How about maintaining a relationship with just one or two tradespeople? Have you considered using a tenant vetting service?
Unless you love being a full-time landlord, streamline those landlord processes.
9. Make time for you
Your buy-to-let property should help you get the most out of life. Make sure you spend time with family and friends. Take a holiday. Go for a Sunday walk with the grandchildren. Enjoy a romantic meal for two.
Schedule your time, cover your property priorities, and ensure emergencies are taken care of in your absence.
What is your special resolution?
Everyone has something they want to achieve, somewhere they want to go, or a new adventure they want to experience. What is it that you want to remember 2018 for? What is your resolution? Committing to the nine landlord resolutions in this article should help you achieve your personal goals for 2018.
In 2018, Ezytrac’s resolution is to continue to help all our landlord clients achieve their personal goals. To find out how we can help you with your 2018 goals, contact one of the Ezytrac team today on +44 01522 503 717.