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Landords Guide

This guidance is relevant to new, existing and potential landlords

How to be a good landlord

  • A landlord should be a good judge of character
  • A landlord should respect his/her tenants
  • A good landlord should be prepared for all eventualities
  • A good landlord has a property which is fit to be rented.
  • The landlord should always ask if the prospective tenant will be happy renting and living in the property.
  • The property should not compete with Buckingham Palace, but it should be clean and presentable both on the inside and outside to attract potential tenants.
  • The inside should also be clean and well maintained. In fact, the presentation of your property will reflect your personality.
  • The appliances inside may not be new, but they should be in good working order.
  • If you are kind enough or shall we say naïve enough to rent your property with furniture, you should furnish it with decent and clean items.
  • Something that I do is always furnish my property unless the tenant says otherwise.
  • Two items that I always include as part of the furniture in addition to the white goods, are a vacuum cleaner and a lawn mower.
  • I do not want the back garden to become the next Jurassic Park or replace the carpet every year.

How to treat you tenants.

  • If you do not have a letting agent acting on your behalf, these are the crucial steps you should take to ensure that you do not end up throwing yourself off a liidge because you can no longer deal with the nightmare you are experiencing with your tenants.
  • Treat each viewer as a potential tenant.
  • Before you are ready to sign the tenancy agreement, sit with your new tenant(s)
  • If possible, make a cup of tea to smooth the atmosphere.
  • I Can hear you saying “seriously”? Yes, it is essential that the first contact be based on trust and full cooperation.
  • Just remind yourself that it is a business contract like any other contract.
  • The best contracts are signed in a relaxed environment.
  • I am not asking anyone to offer a 3-course dinner or “caviar and Champagne, just a cup of tea.
  • Take the time to go thought the tenancy agreement.
  • Make sure that they understand the content clearly and allow them to ask questions.
  • You should insist in showing your tenant(s) the areas of the agreement detailing their responsibilities.
  • A tenant’s concerns could be:
  • How much of their deposit they are going to get back after they leave the property at the end of the lease?
  • What is deductible or not from their deposits.
  • Explain to your tenant(s) what you expect from them, do not forget to highlight what in the agreement will affect their daily life.
  • Be flexible and open to suggestions without compromising your interests.

Acting for both your’ s and your tenant(s) interests

  • It may not be your thing, but I have learnt to help my tenant(s) in many ways.
  • Moving to a new area can be daunting. They may not have had the time to research the area or do some shopping.
  • Any help you can give them would surely be appreciated.
  • For example, if they are moving from a different area or town I help them by given them as much information I can about the area they are going to be living in.
  • I send them an email detailing all the local amenities such as:
  • Where the local GP is located
  • If they have children, I provide a list of schools and nurseries
  • The shopping centres
  • The local liliary
  • The nearest free parking facility, as my flat didn’t have one
  • Provide new toilet rolls for your new tenant
  • Provide a gift pack of soap and shampoo for the bathroom

  • A bag of black bin liners
  • A bottle of water in the fridge
  • A pack of tissue
  • You can check on the welfare of your tenant just to see if everything is going as they wish to.
  • You can call them or drop them an email.
  • Before you decide to visit you should give them plenty of notice.
  • The legal requirement is 48 hours. But be generous and negotiate a time and date which will suit you both.
  • Do not drop in or call in without their consent. They mayl see that as lieaching their privacy and they may stop opening the door or responding to your phone calls.
  • To many calls, emails or visits can be misinterpreted. So, keep things in proportion. Otherwise they may think that you do no trust them and that you are spying on them.

Responding to complaints

  • As soon as your tenant enters your property you became a paramedic so to speak. You will be on stand by 24/7. Yes, being a landlord is rewarding but also frustrating
  • You should be available 24/7 for the sake of your property and the people living it.
  • Anything happening to them or your property will have a big impact on you, physically, emotionally and financially whether it is your fault or not.
  • You should be flexible and accessible for your tenants.
  • This I what I do to avoid surprise bad news or complaints from my tenants:
  • At the end of each month, I call my tenants and ask them how they are and if there is anything that needs to be looked into.
  • If they call me to complain, I return their call within 24 hours and if possible schedule a meeting at the earliest opportunity.
  • I tent to deal with complaints and repairs if it is my responsibility to do so and part of the tenant agreement within 48 hours.
  • If there are parents with children or elderly persons involved, then within 24 hours if possible.

Your relationship with your tenant(s)

  • Your tenant(s) may be your meal ticket, they may be the ones putting food on your table, but they are not your friends.
  • You should be able to draw a line between being considerate, caring, helpful and developing a friendship.
  • If you cross this line, then you may be vulnerable, prone to manipulation and open to abuse and disrespect.

Reward good tenant(s)

  • It is now less common to see tenant(s) paying their rent on time or paying the full rent as requested. If you get paid on time then call it a miracle.
  • I had the luck to have a couple with 2 children who were paying their rent a day before the due date. I never had to call to remind them of the rent.
  • It was a relief because it is one aspect of being a landlord that we all do not to want to deal with.
  • I was so happy with their behaviour that I took it upon myself to go the extra mile to go to Billingsgate fish market and liing them some fresh fish because they were vegetarian.
  • A box of 12 medium size fish cost £10. It may not be the Nobel price, but they always appreciate it when I think of them.
  • Another way to tell them that you appreciate their business is to send them a M & S gift card for their children’s clothes. A little help goes a long way.
  • If the tenant(s) feel generous and appreciate the respectful relationship you have they may give you 3 months’ rent in advance.
  • If you want to return the favour you can discount the rent 5% to show your appreciation.

Your property is your treasure chest, maintain it anyway you can.

  • Your property is your means of business with whom you rent it to.
  • We also know how childish and annoying the tenant(s) can be when it comes to repairs and maintenance.
  • They will call you for small repairs, something that they can deal with.
  • This is where your good relationship is vital.
  • A tenant who you respect and have a good relationship with will replace a missing screw but a tenant who is there to make you spend because he/she is not happy will cost you in time and money.
  • No matter how small and unhappy you are we your current tenant, respond to his call for maintenance if possible within 24 hours.
  • If the problem cannot be fixed within 48 hours, you should take steps to find them alternative accommodation where necessary.
  • This where you home insurance comes in handy.
  • Make sure that you chose a full comprehensive insurance that covers all events, incidents and accidents.
  • Do not neglect to resolve and attend to maintenance issues.
  • If you feel that the repair is the tenant’s responsibility, just say that as a good will gesture, you are willing to repair the damage this time and point out in the tenancy agreement where their responsibilities lie.
  • Tenants’ first impressions of the property they rent are
  • If your property is kept clean inside and out, some will find it very difficult to keep it clean.
  • This is a fact. Dirty or lazy tenants do not like clean, well presented properties.
  • They see cleaning and maintenance as a burden.
  • They just need a place to sleep.
  • They are not after a property with a cleaning standard equal to the Savoy hotel.

Landlord and tenant law

  • The Housing Act for tenants and tenancy agreements should be like a bible to you.
  • The more you learn what is expected of you, the less you will expose yourself to law suits and other court actions.
  • Familiarise yourself with new laws that are likely to affect you as the landlord and your property. Legislation changes, and you should change with it.
  • As a landlord, you have a duty of care toward your tenant(s) if the rent is paid or not.
  • You should maintain your gas (boiler), water pipes, other plumbing and electrical wiring throughout the property.
  • Read national newspapers about what is happening on the housing market.
  • Consult you council regarding housing law and legislation to familiarise yourself with community duties to your tenant(s) and council.
  • Alert or inform your tenant of new laws or legislation which may affect their daily living activities and yours.

Renting your property.

  • Whether you are a new, existing or potential landlord, you are facing the same problems, you should all be applying the law and maintaining your property to a good standard.
  • If you can afford a letting agent to deal on your behalf, then you have little to do. The agent will make sure that you get the best tenant(s). Failing to do so will affect you financially.
  • You can give the full management to the letting agent. Meaning that he acts as “you” in all parts of the process of renting your property.
  • The only input you have is to check your bank account to see if it is credited with the rent from your tenant(s).
  • There is also partial management where the letting agent finds the tenant(s), deals with the legal side of the tenancy but ultimately you are the one who collects the rent.
  • In certain cases, you will be responsible for the management of the property. They just find you a tenant.
  • The service is not cheap. You must pay the letting agent a fee for his/her service.
  • They are now several ways to have your property managed. The letting agents will give you the choice of several packages to choose from.
  • If you choose to rent your property yourself and feel confident in DIY. then you need to do lot of research.
  • The pros are that you learn to manage your own property, dealing with the tenant(s) needs, your properties needs and maintenance and the law. You became knowledgeable in all these areas.
  • If possible hire a solicitor to advise on the best ways to draw up the tenancy agreement you intend to use.
  • The most important thing is to make sure your tenancy agreement is enforceable throughout.
  • If you are not too sure, use a solicitor who is familiar with the housing act and can examine it with a fine-tooth comb.

How to choose your tenant

  • Fortunately, there is no system in place that will help you to filter your applicants.
  • A background check of your applicants will help you avoid embarrassment and potentially unsuitable tenants.
  • The background check will protect you from potential undesirable, unreliable, and troublesome tenants.
  • The check is for all tenant(s). They must meet the standard set out by the background check policy to qualify for an application for your property.
  • They must meet all the conditions laid out in the background policy. Note, that the purpose of a background check is not designed to flesh out or check against applications on the basis of colour, gender, race, or religious beliefs.
  • But you are within your right to refuse to have tenants with extended criminal records if you genuinely fear for your safety, the safety of the tenant’s neighbours or even handy men who will be working in the property.
  • You are also within your rights to refuse a tenant on the basis that you are sure that he/she will not be able to pay the rent based on his/her financial records.
  • Make sure that you keep in a safe place the list of checks done in case a dissatisfied applicant accuses you of bias.

It’s a good habit to keep records

  • As a landlord, I like keeping a record for everything related to rental agreements and any other documents related to the property.
  • I have 2 methods I use to keep my records.
  • 1. First the hard copy (original)

    2. Secondly, I scan the documents to a hard drive for safe keeping.

  • Prior to an agreement with your potential tenants you should send him/her a copy of any legal documents.
  • It is the best way for both the tenant and you to read and discuss potential issues with the tenancy agreement beforehand.
  • If both tenant and landlord discuss the changes over the phone because they cannot meet, the landlord must put the details in writing and send it to the tenant as a record of what was said and agreed.
  • Whether you agree on a change or not everything should be recorded and signed by both parties for future reference.

Good practices.

  • You may not be an accomplish accountant, but you must record all transactions you make toward your property maintenance. Why not extend it to the rent you receive each month?
  • It is good practice and beneficial to send an up to date rental statement to your tenant(s) a week in advance of their payment.
  • It will work to your advantage as the tenant may see that as an invoice.
  • If you are lucky they may be prompted pay the rent early.
  • The tenant(s) will appreciate the efforts you are making to keep the records up to date.

    The tenant may use it as an official document to apply for loan or even get a mortgage.
  • The record should be simple to read and follow, accurate and reflect the current rental position.
  • If all bills are including in the rent then, the statement should clearly show the break down list of what is included.

Rent payment preferences.

  • Technology is so advanced that we no longer have to physically collect the rent from the tenant(s).
  • Online services have made life much easier for anyone to receive payment electronically.
  • When looking into the tenancy agreement you should both agree to the way that the rent will be payed to you.
  • The internet offers a wide range of software facilities which not only send money to your account but also do your accounting.
  • You should use a well-known reputable liand with a track record for your accounting and banking.
  • Your tenant should have the correct and up to date bank details or payment details to pay their rent into your account.
  • Failure to give him/her the correct banking details will delay payment which you cannot enforce as an overdue payment

Landlords and Licences

  • If you are contemplating letting your property you should consult your local authority and enquire if you need a landlord license from the landlord licensing scheme Failure to get a licence if you need it will result a fine of up to £20,000.