Common sense strategies to help preserve rental profits
Tenants who damage a buy-to-let property are the nightmare of every landlord. This sort of tenant fits into two categories. First is the tenant who causes deliberate damage. You’ll want to avoid these at all costs. Second is the tenant who causes accidental damage, either through neglect, carelessness, or ignorance.
This second type of tenant might be fantastic in every other way. There are some strategies you can use to prevent tenants from carelessly damaging your buy-to-let property. Here are seven things you and our investment property management team can do to prevent tenant damage before it occurs.
1. Tenant vetting
It’s vital that you complete full background checks on your prospective tenants. Good tenant vetting is essential. Get it wrong, and you could be blighted with a tenant from hell. We ensure that we check references from previous and current landlords and employers. We also check credit ratings. These checks are usually enough to weed out irresponsible tenants.
2. Take a reasonable deposit
Never let a property without taking a reasonable security deposit. If you don’t take a deposit, you risk a large bill if you discover damages or your tenant leaves owing rent. The deposit must be lodged in a tenancy deposit protection scheme – if you don’t do this and your tenant is one arrived from hell, a court could allow them to stay in your property to do even more damage.
3. Let the tenant know about their responsibilities
How can you expect your tenant to look after your property if they don’t know their responsibilities? Many tenants have never owned their own home before. You can’t expect them to know how to treat your buy-to-let. We talk to tenants about how they will be expected to treat their new home, and we make sure that these conditions are reiterated in the tenancy agreement.
4. Regular property inspections are a must
Regular property inspections help to identify damage and maintenance issues that might seem inconsequential to the tenant. These issues can then be dealt with quickly and efficiently, reducing the cost of a maintenance requirement that may get worse. It also gives an opportunity to speak to the tenant and get them on board with treating your buy-to-let investment with respect.
5. Make it easy to report maintenance issues
The harder it is for a tenant to report damage or repair issues, the less likely they are to do so. Our online repair reporting system is available 24/7. A tenant can describe the fault or problem, and upload photos. We can quickly assess the issue, and prioritise accordingly. The tenant doesn’t have to wait for a telephone call to be answered. There is no need for emails to fly back and forth.
Our experience is that tenants report problems quicker with this system, and that means they are reported before they become big and expensive.
6. Professional cleaning
A strategy that shows respect for your property and your tenants is to offer an annual professional clean, perhaps splitting the charge with the tenant. They benefit from a spring clean and a fresh house every year, while you benefit from carpets, curtains and furnishings that are better looked after and therefore last longer.
7. Stay in touch
Communication is the key to all healthy relationships, and a good tenant/landlord relationship will ensure that your buy-to-let is treated well. We spell out what we expect from tenants at the beginning of our relationship with them. And tell them we want them to have their tenancy deposit back – if we must withhold any, it means that there’s extra work for us to do.
We also give them a call from time to time, to ensure that the tenancy is running smoothly and to ask if there is anything they need doing. We make sure they know how to use the repair reporting system, and explain how unreported repairs always get worse.
Tenant damage will hurt buy-to-let property profits
The law on what you can claim for wear and tear to your property has changed. You used to be able to claim a blanket 10% of rent against wear and tear. Now you can only claim what you have paid out – and this is on a like-for-like basis where an item needs to be replaced. Therefore, it’s even more important to keep a lid on wear and tear and repair costs.
Finding the best tenants is the first stepping stone to reducing maintenance bills and preventing damage to your property. As investment property managers, we also work hard on educating tenants, ensuring we communicate regularly, and making it easy to report damage or repair issues before they get out of hand.
To benefit from proactive investment property management, contact Ezytrac today on +44 1522 503 717 and discover the difference our dedication and working methods could make to your property portfolio.
Yours in effortless property management,