New Landlord Advice: Essential Support Services To Help You
The number of people taking up property investment has been rising year on year, with figures increasing by up to 5% annually. In the UK, there are now over 2.5 million landlords managing rental properties. There is great significance in this information, as it means the practice is seeing a large influx of first-time landlords and property investors — over 100,000 every year.
Building a property portfolio can be immensely rewarding, but it also carries major risk and responsibility. Landlords are put under a spotlight and take on certain burdens of property management that others never will.
The key word to pick up on here is management.
Good management often comes down to one thing: delegation. You don’t need to commit to being an all-encompassing expert in the world of property. Instead, you can build your support network in a way that removes pressure from your shoulders and ensures you are prepared for any eventuality associated with the risks and responsibilities of property letting.
But what services are these? In this article offering new landlord advice, we look at some top tips on the connections you should be making in the early days before you even invest in your first property.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone considering entering the property business that maintenance is essential. As a landlord, you’ll likely be responsible for near-all aspects of property maintenance, from repairing fences to keeping the boiler running. What you need to do is make sure you are ready for this kind of problem if it should come your way. And yes, while this might seem like some very basic new landlord advice, don’t discount it just yet.
It is not difficult to find a local plumber or electrician or even to pop round and have a look at the problem yourself. But is this tactic going to result in you getting the best service you can?
In an emergency situation, for example, you want to know exactly where you should turn for a quality and trustworthy job. You want to know your property maintenance is going to be reliable and up to the standards required for proper completion. You also want to know that you aren’t paying over the odds. But likewise, you may not want to risk carrying out the maintenance yourself and potentially doing more harm than good — unless you have particular industry skills.
Preparation when it comes to good property maintenance is key. Understand your capabilities as a landlord and what support you yourself can offer. This will allow you to accept where you need help and provides you with the opportunity to do your research, reach out to service businesses and build a reliable network that is ready to keep your property portfolio running when issues do arise.
Cleanliness in your new property can be utterly essential. Making sure a house or flat is ready for new tenants is key, as is end-of-tenancy cleaning. A professional cleaning service serves four purposes:
- A clean property can be a critical step to attracting prospective tenants into your property. If you want to get people into your new housing fast, ensuring it is spotless is a powerful motivator.
- A professional clean means that you can be absolutely clear on what issues there currently are in terms of property condition prior to a tenant moving in. You can then document any noticeable concerns. Following the vacation of the tenant, you’ll be able to refer to your documentation and assess which issues are a result of them living within the property. This can be a vital piece of supporting information for tenant deposit disputes or compensation claims for damage.
- After a tenant leaves, you need to be sure there aren’t any hidden issues or lasting effects of their presence. Getting the property professionally cleaned can help you achieve this.
- End-of-tenancy cleaning can help you quickly get your property ready for new tenants. The longer your house is on the market, the more money you are losing. As with point one, getting your property prepared and ready for viewing and rental is a process you want carrying out as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Cleaning services support that goal.
Tax and Money Management
As a landlord, you will be subject to taxation laws that are unique to property management. These can actually be beneficial if used properly, such as relief and deductions on earnings. But tax is a complicated process, and landlord obligations regularly see updates and changes, making matters more confusing for those without financial expertise.
Being a landlord is often about creating a profitable portfolio, which means you want to make sure you are doing your taxes right and taking advantage of any potential savings to be had. You also want to ensure you are keeping good records and filing tax returns accurately, as well as not overpaying on other elements of your business, such as fees for services.
Specialist property accountants are a vital support structure in this regard. Having an expert manage your tax and finances for you means you’ll have the peace of mind that you are making the most of your money. It also means you are safe in the knowledge that you aren’t making mistakes either. Financial management of any private income can be a perplexing and stressful process if handled personally; not so when you delegate the responsibility to somebody who is fully versed in the system.
Legal Services and Advice
The world of property investment and management is steeped in legal obligations. The structure and depth of the law surrounding landlord responsibilities are expansive, yet conforming to legislation is crucial. Failure to do so can have serious financial ramifications and even have you end up in court.
No landlord wants this, but just as with taxation, becoming a property legal expert is difficult and time-consuming, and even little mistakes can be disastrous. Instead, you want to make sure you are making the right decisions and following the law to the letter. If you are uncertain about terms like deposit protection scheme, assured shorthold tenancy or rent arrears, and you have no knowledge of the Housing Act, legal support is highly recommended.
Find a property lawyer or agency that offers legal management of tenancy, and build a connection with them now. The basic principle here is to submit an enquiry to a local or trusted property business and get information about the specific services you might need based on your current and/or future plans. You effectively want to open early lines of communication and find the support system that works for you. Once you’ve located the legal aid you need, keep the contact to hand should you ever need new landlord advice relating to legal disputes or responsibilities.
Tenant Credit Checks
When you rent your property out through a letting agent, they’ll manage administration tasks for you, such as a tenancy agreement. But all this comes at a cost, and oftentimes, private landlords would rather skip this process and deal with it themselves, locating tenants through other channels.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with avoiding a letting agent and managing the administrative tasks for your rental property yourself, especially if you also employ the help of legal aid. However, what this does mean is that you won’t have certain tasks carried out for you, which results in you having to do them yourself.
Here, we are referring specifically to tenant credit checks; investigations into the financial credit history of potential tenants before they move in. This is not a legally required check for a residential landlord and you can let property without it. However, it is a risky practice. Not knowing whether your tenants can be trusted to cover costs can leave you in serious financial difficulties and major legal disputes if problems arise. Landlord insurance can provide some protection on this front, but it doesn’t negate all risk factors and negative repercussions.
Plenty of businesses will run specialist tenancy credit checks. For fairly low fees, they’ll look into the financial payment history of your prospective tenants to ensure they are capable and likely to pay the agreed rent. Many private landlords do opt not to carry out credit checks, but it is highly advisable you make services like this part of your set-up process.