For the Uninitiated Landlords- By: kath wong
For the uninitiated, the buy to let property market can seem like a minefield, full of potential traps and hazards. However, with the right map, any minefield is negotiable and likewise, by following these nine tips you can be on your way to maximising your returns on your buy to let property.
Tip 1: Get a quality tenant
Like snowflakes, tenants are unique, therefore it is important to have an understanding of the type of tenants you are looking for before you go to the market. Having a clear idea of the type of tenant you are looking for can drastically reduce the turnaround time between the initial placement of the property and the tenant moving in as well as reduce the number of time wasters you have to deal with. This point applies even when you believe youíve found the perfect tenant, a full reference and credit check can avert disaster later down the line.
Tip 2. Make your property let attractive to tenants
It should go without saying that a well maintained property is going to be more attractive than a poorly maintained one. In addition to commanding higher rents, it should also attract a better quality of tenant, one less likely to leave your property and contents in a state of disrepair. A fresh coat of paint, professionally cleaned carpets and quality fixtures and fittings go a long way to making the property seem more attractive. It is also important to not neglect the exterior of the property as the nicest inside will still be obscured by horrible walls and an untidy garden.
Tip 3. Conduct an inventory
This step is more important if your property is being let furnished, yet many landlords decide to skip over it entirely, a catastrophic mistake. A detailed inventory should be carried out at the beginning of any tenancy, including photographs so the condition of items can be checked. It is recommended that regular inventories are carried out during the tenancy as well and before the tenancy ends although the tenants permission MUST be obtained before doing so.
Tip 4. Get permission off your mortgage lender
Many new landlords are unaware of this fact but the mortgage lender must give their permission before you are able to lease a property, doing so without may void the terms of your mortgage. Obviously this is of critical importance if the property in question is the one you are currently living in!
Tip 5. Have you got the right certificates?
Current gas and electrical safety certificates are required by law and must include evidence that a Pat Test has been undertaken on all appliances. In addition to this an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) is also required before a property can be put on the market to let.
Tip 6. Organize your finances
Being organized, especially in your finances is where you will truly be able to measure how successful letting out your property has been, if your finances are disorganised you may wind up actually having spent more on the property than you are making, or simply not making as much as you could. It is important to keep on top of your finances to help when completing your tax returns as well.
Tip 7. Furnish the Property
Furnishing a property adds an extra level of value to the property, allowing you to charge higher rents. On the flip-side of this however, is that it also presents an extra level of risk, not only are you liable for any damage to your contents (unless you have a contents policy that covers you for the relevant risk) but you must make sure that your possessions comply with the latest regulations and appropriate labeling.
Tip 8. Get a property agent
If this first attempt at letting out a property is successful, itís hardly a large leap of the imagination to presume you will want to increase your portfolio. In this case, planning ahead is the best policy and one of the best ways to do so is by using a property agent. Some of the many benefits they offer is protection for your long term interests, an understanding of legal responsibilities and even advice for finding tenants.
Tip 9. Get Landlords Insurance
Finally the best thing you can do when planning to let out a property is get good landlords insurance. The previous eight tips have been attempts to prevent problems before they appear, a good landlords insurance policy will protect you from things you couldnít possibly predict. Though landlords insurance comes in many shapes and sizes, the things to look out for are accidental and malicious damage for buildings and contents, loss of rent cover and adequate employers and public liability cover. It may also be worthwhile to check out rent and legal protection insurance, especially if your earlier tenant checks brought up any red flags.
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