Top tips for first-time landlords

Posted 9 September 2015 by Keith Osborne

If you’re ready to let your property, here’s a few tips to help you on your way.

Whether you’re taking your first step in to property investment or have simply decided to use let-to-buy, becoming a landlord for the first time can provide a range of headaches. So if you’re ready to let your property, here’s a few tips to help you on your way.

Decide whether to use an estate agent

One of the first things to consider is whether to use an estate agent. There are many positives to using an agent, including ridding yourself of the burden of finding and assessing tenants, organising viewings and sorting contracts. The negative side of using an estate agent is cost, with agents taking around 10-20% of your rental income. You should always ensure the agent is registered with a regulatory body such as NALS. 

Make the property attractive

Consider your ideal tenant. Students might prefer a fully furnished hard-wearing property they can move straight in to, professional couples may lean towards an unfurnished property decorated in a neutral or contemporary style, while families with children might prefer a blank canvas. With this in mind, it is important to do your research and not assume that a quick hoover will suffice.

Sort out your affairs

Before you let a property, you should inform your mortgage provider, as you may need to make alterations to your current mortgage plan. You should also take out landlord's insurance to cover your building, contents, fixtures and fittings. Finally, make sure you have a gas safety certificate for the property - this is required by law.

Use a shorthold tenancy agreement

A shorthold tenancy agreement is required to protect your interests - so don't take the risk of not using one, even if you are letting your home to somebody you know well. In addition to standard terms and conditions, adapt the agreement to cover the specifics your property, including contentious topics such as garden maintenance and parking.

Always ask for references

This is particularly important if you are going it alone as if you choose to use a letting agent they should obtain thorough references for a prospective tenant. If you do this yourself, pay particular attention to the views of previous landlords and ensure that you obtain an employer's reference - this could save you a lot of hassle in the future. 

Use a deposit protection scheme

Any deposits given by tenants must be protected, and the best way to do this is to use a registered deposit protection scheme, which will look after the money for the duration of the tenancy. If you want to withhold the deposit at the end of the tenancy, you can make a claim for some or all of the amount.

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