This may seem surprising, but we are seeing a huge rise of the ‘accidental landlord’. These are people who sort of ‘fell’ into becoming a landlord through circumstance – they might have inherited a family home, been through a divorce and ended up with a property to handle or simply struggled so much to sell their house that renting it out seemed a better option. They may also have needed to move with their work thanks to a new promotion, but don’t want to sell their home. Being an accidental landlord can be just as rewarding as being a professional landlord, but unfortunately there are some very common pitfalls that accidental landlords tend to fall foul of. So before you start getting your property out, make sure you know what some of the common rental pitfalls are and how to avoid them.
Despite rental properties being in huge demand at the moment, you still need to think carefully about where and how you will advertise for tenants. If you are working with an estate agent, make sure you brief them on the type of tenant you want in your property – and the type you don’t. If you want to avoid the fees that come with estate agents, you could opt to find your own tenants instead. If you do this, you will need to research where different types of properties are advertised and what sort of publication or website your ideal tenant is likely to visit.
You will also need to conduct some basic security checks and references before you allow a prospective tenant into your property. If you skip this vital step, you may end up with a tenant who lets you down on rent, damages your property or breaks your tenancy agreement. Credit checks and a reference from a previous landlord is absolutely essential. If the tenant hasn’t rented before, you can ask for an employer’s reference instead – remember that the point of this is to establish trust and reliability with your tenant. An employer’s reference also lets you know that the tenant will be able to afford the rent.
The Legal Side
Unfortunately, being a landlord isn’t as simple as letting someone live in your property in exchange for money. You have a lot of legal obligations as a landlord, so you need to make sure you have everything in order before you start. For example, you will need to ensure your property is up to rental safety standards, which will mean multiple inspections from professionals and potentially some financial outlay to fix any problems. You will also need to have a tenancy agreement drafted up or find a downloadable template. If you do go for the latter, make sure you check that you’re happy with every single clause, and get any changes approved by a solicitor. You will also need to register for an approved tenancy deposit scheme – which is a legal requirement for all landlords. If this all seems a bit confusing, there are also a few different landlord’s associations you can join for practical support with documentation and management.
There are a number of obligations on you as a landlord at the point of check in. You must conduct right to rent checks, for example, and provide some basic paperwork to the tenants. Failure to do so may mean fines or being unable to serve notice to the tenants if you want your home back,
Eventually, your current tenants are going to decide to move on, and now you need to deal with the tenancy end process. A common mistake many landlords make is allowing their tenants to leave without having checked on the condition of the property or compared it to their check in inventory. This can result in property damage or theft occurring without you realising, and after a certain amount of time you will be unable to pursue the old tenants for it. So when it comes time for your tenants to move out, make sure you carry out a full inspection of the property. Ensure that everything is clean, in good condition and ready for a new tenant to move in. Check any inventory items present on check in are still there, or have been replaced if broken or damaged.
Of course, these are just a few of the things a landlord needs to be aware of. Professional landlords will know that getting everything in place before a tenant starts will help make the process go a lot easier later down the line, so you can relax and know that your property is generating income safely and consistently. If you would like some advice on becoming a landlord, or want to find out how we can help you manage your property, get in touch with us today.