12 Qualities In Your Property Management Company You Should Look Out For

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Here is a simple agenda of the top qualities to search for in a full-benefit property administration organization.

1. Initiative

The right property administration organization will help manage your group to an effective future. At the point when talking with potential property administration organizations, ask who your chief will be, as well as who will be supporting him or her. A talented group of specialists in different fields including HR, designing, preparing and bookkeeping backing every property director with guidance and best practices so as to convey the best administration for your property.

2. Standard Operating Procedures

The best property administration organization ought to have demonstrated operational methods, which have been created through years of experience. You will need to guarantee the organization has standard practices they set up for each group or building they serve. These working techniques ought to incorporate preventive upkeep programs, a full review of all agreement and sellers, a straightforward budgetary framework and spending plan, and arrangements that improve the estimation of your property, and also the way of life of the considerable number of occupants in it.

3. Money related Stewardship

Search for a private administration organization with an interior monetary administration group drove by ensured bookkeepers. The best administration organizations will take after thorough inward survey and bookkeeping conventions to advance budgetary wellbeing and dependability of your affiliation.

4. Merchant Relationships

A property administration organization that has solid, long-held associations with quality administration suppliers will have the capacity to arrange reserve funds, for example, rebates on group buys and lower rates on consistent support, while as yet keeping up a predominant level of administration.

5. Correspondence

Powerless correspondence is a standout amongst the regularly grumbled about qualities in property administration. Search for organizations with an every minute of every day call focus and different types of innovation that permit you to correspond with an expert who can answer your inquiries or react to your solicitations in a convenient manner.

6. Meticulousness

From your property itself to the individuals who live in it, the privilege private administration organization will give you a supervisor that gives careful consideration to detail. You most likely know the special components and erraticisms of your group – a property chief who gets some information about them and looks to comprehend what makes your property tick will have the capacity to give you the best administration.

7. Responsiveness

There are a mixed bag of issues that may emerge in a group affiliation and it is decent to have an administration organization with the ability to control you in the right bearing. Awesome property supervisors set aside the time to really see every day life in the groups and structures they serve. They are prepared and very much arranged to react to issues that emerge.

8. Duty to Training

Master property administration and extraordinary client administration must be given by a learned, brought together and greatly prepared group. Search for property administration organizations that are focused on giving constant instructive and improvement programs for their supervisors, including hands-on preparing, classroom learning and web preparing frameworks. Thusly, your director will be on the front line of industry and item learning, and prepared to convey the most abnormal amounts of administration to board individuals and occupants.

9. Straightforwardness

It is likewise essential that your private property administration organization works under full straightforwardness. The organization ought to have the capacity to furnish you with revelation on any subsidiary organizations it works with. You ought to additionally get some information about their budgetary controls and in the event that they are liable to Sarbanes-Oxley. Another important resource, which your property administration organization ought to give to its partners, is an inward morals hotline with a specific end goal to report and record deceptive exercises.

10. Concentrate on Sustainability

An organization that is focused on going “green” will help lessen your group’s carbon foot shaped impression, vitality utilization and working expenses to make a healthier (and more cost-proficient) living environment. On the off chance that a property administration group has LEED authorize experts on staff, it is a decent sign that they are centered around manageability.

11. Responsibility

Awesome private administration organizations ought not lay on their accomplishments. They ought to be receptive, communitarian and constantly hoping to enhance their administration offerings and client administration. Inquire as to whether your organization will acquire real to life board part input all the time about how they are performing – and whether they will make a move as a consequence of that criticism to end up stunningly better at giving your group the best administration.

12. Capacity to Listen

It may appear to be fundamental, yet it is vital – and frequently a shortcoming of some very experienced property administration organizations. A few organizations may accept that only on the grounds that they have been in the business for quite a long time, they definitely know precisely what your group needs. An organization with the capacity to truly listen and team up with your board will have the capacity to redo their full-benefit affiliation administration arrangements and worth added administrations to address your issues, accomplish your objectives and understand your group visio

Am I a Good Landlord?

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Some landlords just fall in love with their property, or it’s been their own home and they just can’t bear the thought of others in there messing up their carpets. They love it so much they drive by every day and have a good look to see what’s happening. They let their emotions take over from what should be their business head.

These landlords act as though the property is their own home when in fact legally and in practice, while a property is tenanted, it “belongs” to the tenant – it’s their home, and under the legal principle of “quiet enjoyment” they are entitled to just that. They can live as they please to a large extent.

These landlords decorate their properties to their own tastes, not in a neutral way with wall coverings and carpets that match almost any colour and style. If you have wild preferences in style and colour, with a rental property you are inviting tenants to make changes like re-painting and decorating to their own preferred colour scheme.

You treat your tenants as best buddies, you make a point of visiting them often and getting on like a house on fire, you even send them birthday cards! Big mistake, because when they bring in the new kitten and block the drains with kitchen grease, you find it hard to tackle and chastise them, it’s even worse when they start to miss rent payments.

I only rent to friends and relatives! Again, more often than not it’s a big mistake. They say if you want to lose a friend, lend them money. Pretty much the same thing applies with tenancies. Eventually relations become strained if your friendly tenants don’t behave as you expect them to. Often they will expect favours that other tenants just would not.

Renting property is a business and needs to be kept on a business footing, always treating your tenants fairly but firmly as customers. This way you can take immediate action without encumbrances if things start to go wrong.

You’ve just got to accept that the tenant “owns his own home” and to some extent you need to overlook minor infringements of your own standards; stay calm, cool and collected when you may be fuming inside, stay courteous, professional, and in control.

In extreme circumstances the one thing to bear in mind, the one thing that keeps you calm and allows you to carry on, is that one day, assuming you know how to go about it properly, this tenant is going to pay: pay for all damage he caused or the rent he owes you, because you will pursue the matter tenaciously, through the courts if necessary, and get back every penny.

More often than not though, it need not come to that if you handle the situation properly. Remember, most tenants (around 95% in my experience) are good to excellent. They look after your property and pay their rent on time. If there are issues they will respond if their misdemeanour or lease rule oversight is respectfully pointed out to them.

A quiet word and a businesslike letter (to put it on record), pointing out their breach of the rules and its consequences, will usually bring the tenant into line and prevent any escalation of problems in the future. If this does not work, and the tenant will not listen to reason, then you have a problem tenant on your hands and the relationship may need to enter a different phase. You need to learn how to deal with difficult tenants and there are several other articles here to help you do that.

Developing a good business-like working relationship with your tenant, and often this means keeping contact to a minimum, giving them their personal space, is the key to being a good landlord, and successfully making money from the venture. Having the landlord turn up every five minutes just reminds the tenant that they are a tenant, and that at the end of the month another rent payment will be going out of their bank account into yours.

Half the battle is selecting good tenants. It’s far easier to be a good landlord if you have only good tenants and the secret to that is have a comprehensive and exhaustive selection process. That’s for another article – see Selecting Tenants.

If you always rent your property to good tenants, then you’ll have much less need to worry about the state of your property and you won’t need to be nosy. Leave them alone and everyone will be happy. I find that opportunities come naturally when you can keep an eye on things: when the boiler needs a service or there’s a minor defect and the tenant calls you in.

If you do need to call, make sure you give at least 24 hours notice, for example, if the gas inspection is due. Most tenants won’t mind if you are the type of landlord that likes to inspect, so long as they have time to get ready for you, but as I’ve said above, often there’s no need for formal inspections.

Just bear in mind that most tenants have many concerns about the landlord for various reasons, so always try to be friendly, helpful and attentive and put them at ease whenever you meet them.

Don’t be a tight wad. The number of times we get enquiries from landlords asking if it’s their responsibility to mend the fridge or toilet, is unbelievable. In a residential property the landlord is responsible for almost everything – that’s one big reason and the advantage of renting: it gives tenants the freedom from worry about unexpected bills. As a landlord you take on that responsibility for them.

If it’s broken, get it fixed or renewed pronto: it will cost you far less than losing a good tenant and your tenant will think you’re the best landlord ever!

There’s always two sides to every story and in the landlord-tenant relationship, that’s down to the tenant. As a tenant you can help that relationship along and keep the landlord’s attention off you by playing by the rules.

Keep the property reasonably clean and tidy, try to get along with the neighbours, don’t introduce pets or other residents without permission and make sure your rent is always paid on time.

From a tenant’s point of view – and just like bad tenants there’s a small proportion of bad landlords – if that does not work, then think about leaving when your tenancy ends. It might teach the bad landlord that looking after good tenants is the way to run a landlording business successfully, but don’t hold your breath!

Property tips for landlords

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• A GOOD MANAGEMENT COMPANY

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• RUN ON EMPTY

With online managing agents, you need to ask if there is any level of tenant care. If your tenant leaves and there is a void, you will face a double whammy of having to pay the agent to find you a new tenant and also suffer lost income.

• CLOSE CALL

Losing tenants because you did not look after them can turn a good yearly return to nothing. Tenants like to feel they can pick up the phone and talk to someone who has direct contact with the landlord.

• VOW FACTOR

You need to be confident that an online letting or managing agent is adding value. They will certainly be cheaper – but will they deliver what they promise, given they are dealing with properties and maintenance nationally?

• STREET CREDIT 

I’ve come across parking space issues while helping clients buy property in London, particularly when there’s the sudden realisation that owner-occupiers in certain blocks of new-build flats don’t qualify for parking. Developers see space as money, so would rather convert potential parking spaces into flats. Otherwise, they’ll charge a fortune for them. In one new Battersea development, parking spaces cost up to £60,000 each.

• VEHICLE POUNDS 

If you analysed the extra rent you could charge for the privilege of somewhere to park, I’m not sure the price for a space works out favourably. But a flat will be more marketable with a parking space when you sell, if not necessarily for a let.

• GOING UP

Parking spaces, like a lift, concierge or gym, are a nice bonus but may not command a relative rise in rent. However, in London especially, their value may grow rapidly.

• DOUBLE CHARGING 

It’s a scam where agents charge both the landlord and tenant for a certain service – and that’s been a big part of the problem with lettings agents’ fees. Hopefully the new regulation will make it clear who pays for what. Equally important is knowing who holds the deposit. That needs to be kept in a separate account and not with the agent.

• ROOM FOR NEGOTIATION 

The type of property you buy may also determine your ability to haggle down the price a lettings agent charges. An older property will require maintenance and management. A new-build will need less attention.

• SOAK UP THE LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

I’ve always chosen a specialist lettings agency who is local to the area to manage my properties and I feel that has given the best result. So if you say you’re looking for that service, even if it turns out you don’t then go for it, it may give you scope for negotiating their management fees. These can be high.

• GOOD IDEA, I SAY

I think let to let is an excellent plan. I’ve come across a lot of people doing this, particularly those in first jobs in London who can’t buy where they would like to live but feel they should be in the housing market.

• DON’T GET MUDDLED

It’s a good hedge, rather than waiting until you can afford your ideal property — and your tenant pays your mortgage. The other upside is you can go about it without getting muddled about if it’s an investment or a home for you. It’s purely the former.

• UNIVERSITY OF LIFE

It is difficult buying in an area you don’t know well or is a distance from where you live. University towns are good for investment. If you work in Manchester but can’t afford to buy there, and you went to uni in Newcastle, then you could buy a student property there in a market you understand. Life changes between your twenties and mid-thirties and you don’t know where you’re going to end up.

• A HOME OR A LET?

I’ve worked with a lot of people who want a coastal investment property that’s also a holiday home. Combining the two is unlikely to get the best of either. You need to be clear which it is.

• LESSONS FROM NATURE

A lot of flats on the south coast incur paintwork damage and need regular window-cleaning. Keep the property in good nick – otherwise the maintenance jobs become far bigger. If you are buying a leasehold, ensure the building has a property management company with a sinking fund and planned works.

• INVEST IN THE FAMILY

If you are targeting the families-moving-out-of-the- city market, you may pay a premium for a home in a good school catchment area, but rent will be at a premium and there’s more chance of capital growth. Relocating families, perhaps renting with a view to buying, make good tenants. They have money in the bank and look after a place.

 

• HAPPY FAMILIES

Flats at the lower end of the ladder also take longer to rent. However, the opposite is also true. Decent-quality family homes within walking distance of highly rated schools should be quick to let and also mean families are more likely to settle for longer. Once children are happy in school and local friends are made, the decision to uproot and move again becomes far harder.

• OUTPERFORM THE MARKET

A really successful property investor outperforms the market. That may be through adding value, or it may be because they have invested in something that will benefit from the infrastructure that is predicted to lift an area. In other words, rather than go for a new-build development — where you are likely to be paying a premium — they will go for an older property in the next street.

• DO YOUR RESEARCH

If an area dramatically changes, people think they have been clever because their property goes up by 20 per cent. But when the market rises, it covers up any mistakes you make. When searching for the right buy-to-let property to buy, yes, read the press and websites, but get out on the streets, too, and talk to people.

• KEEP DEPOSITS SMALL

If you’re starting out in buy-to-let, it’s better to put down a smaller deposit. That said, with a cheap investment, it takes a long time to find, buy and rent out, and the area has probably up and come by the time you realise you’ve done a decent job. You’re better of making a 10 per cent return on something worth more.

• LEAVE THE HERD

Certain areas may be hyped because they are predicted to see huge price growth due to big new infrastructure projects. But that hype is usually created by the PRs of large developers, so take it at face value. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen, but the timing or extent of growth may be unclear.

• DISTRICT DISCIPLINE 

It is difficult to identify what tenants want if you aren’t that person, don’t do that job or live that lifestyle. So sound out rental agents locally. Ask what kind of property they wish they had more of, and then find out what the type of tenant who wants that property looks for when renting.

 

• SMALL PRICE

Are long-term tenants more demanding than short-term tenants? Not really. Tenants, on the whole, are pretty demanding — and why not? For the landlord, a long-term commitment to rent is good news and it does not mean your tenant pays less rent. If it does mean spending a bit on improving the property, it’s a small price to pay.

• FAIR DEAL

You may also get an arrangement, such as a landlord I know with tenants on a 10-year lease. The house needs work he is reluctant to do, so they are paying to put on the extension and change the windows in return for a lower rent.

• IN THE FAMILIAR WAY 

Once you know a market and have a model that works, it makes sense to carry on with the same formula and build up a portfolio of similar properties. Why try to fix something that’s not broken?

• BALANCING ACT 

A balance of risk across a portfolio is the way I’d go. A balanced property portfolio combines properties with more chance of capital appreciation and others that offer greater yield.

• MIXING IT UP 

Add commercial properties to the mix and you have assets requiring less landlord involvement than residential — until the lease is running out and you need a new tenant. The landlord must be far more strategic then: if you get things right, you are set for the next 10 to 15 years. With residential, if you pick the wrong tenant, you only have to wait a year to sort it out.

• PLAY THE LONG GAME

Buy for the long term and finance carefully. Use the smallest deposit possible. The ability to “gear up” is one of the things that makes property investment so attractive — but bear in mind you will suffer any market falls in the same way you will benefit from rises. And remember, too, that interest rates go up as well as down.

• IDENTIFY YOUR TENANT

Have a clear strategy about why you want to invest and what you are going to be investing in. Research the characteristics of the tenant market you target. What do they want? Where do they want it? How much will they pay to live in it?

 

• CALCULATE THE HASSLE 

When investing at an older age, income is more likely to be the main driver than capital appreciation. Where this is the case, something like a student let or an HMO tends to provide higher yields, but bear in mind the hassle factor. Also weigh up the relative costs of using a property management agent versus the potential hassle of doing it yourself, which you may have time to do in retirement.

• HALF-WAY HOUSE 

Ex-local authority properties don’t tend to rise in capital value at quite the same rate as other stock when prices in the general market are rising. They will also fall faster when/if the market turns negative. But they do rent well and offer good annual yields, so could offer retirees a half-way option.

• GOING STEADY

I understand the need for income in retirement, but remember you are tying up cash in an asset that is fairly illiquid. It is a good, steady income, though, and it’s an investment you feel you can control – particularly if you have lost confidence in the stock market, as many have in recent years.

• IT’S NOT CHARITY

The thing to remember with offers of free this and that is that you are paying for them somewhere. Developers are not charities and are not offering you a gift. The chances are they are adding a few thousand pounds on the price of the property to offer you the “free” stamp duty or furniture pack.

• PAY LATER

If that hidden amount they are charging simply goes on your mortgage and it means you don’t have to pay stamp duty – and hence find an extra few thousand pounds up front – then maybe that’s a good thing.

• MARKET LEADERS

By bumping up the price of new-build properties, developers are trying to establish a new market rate for that kind of property in the area. Say they are selling a flat for £300,000 and they are paying your stamp duty, then really it’s only worth £295,000. If they sell enough at £300,000 to convince the market the flats are worth that much, it will set a new level. Again, as an investor, that is not necessarily a bad thing as it is increasing the value of your investment.

• FREE OF FEES

When this situation arises depends on how much you earn and then on management fees. As these are a percentage of the rent collected, it is not about the number of properties you own, but their value and income. It takes pretty much the same time and effort to manage a property worth £150,000 as £1.5m.

• LOW-STRESS LETTINGS

A lot of developers target expats – and they make life very easy for you. But in property, if something is easy, you are not going to get the best value. As long as you realise that, however, buying new-build may still be the best way for you and may be worth it, given the hassle it will save you.

• SAFE AS HOUSES

If you are an expat landlord and concerned about whether you can leave your property to tick over in your absence or should be returning frequently to check all is OK, I would say you are safe to leave it. That’s one of the attractions of this type of investment; you shouldn’t have to worry about it if you put it in the hands of a reputable lettings agent.

• LOOK AT DRAINPIPES

Another hazard is leaking drainpipes. You need to be at the property when it’s raining to spot the problem. If you’re a distant landlord, you need a diligent lettings agent to look out for you.

• AIR THE BATHROOM

Bathroom ventilation is important. It’s easy to get wrong and everyone advises you differently. Also beware of houses let out to young lads (even if they are graduates, which is my target market) who have a tendency to keep all windows shut and dry washing indoors. One of my houses is let entirely to girls and they keep it beautifully.

• LOTS OF SPARE INCOME

Pensions haven’t been performing and people see property as a long-term, reliable, tangible investment. You can even live in it if you want to. But these days it’s a lot harder to become a landlord as the banks are now interested in who you are in a way they didn’t used to be and you need a lot of spare income to save up a 25 per cent deposit.

• PAYING THE PRICE

Many people got involved in buy-to-let in the days of 100 per cent or even 120 per cent loans, simply because they could. Luckily, it’s not like that any more. If you got into the market late, just before it crashed in 2008, and took out a big mortgage, you could be paying for that property for the rest of your life.

• COVER STORY 

My dad always said there’s an awful lot that can go wrong in the world, but if you own the roof over your head, you can cope with almost anything. When my sons were born nine and seven years ago, I bought them each a house so they will have a roof over their head.

• GET OUT

If you rent in London but can’t afford to buy there, it’s an excellent idea to look elsewhere to get on the property ladder.

• GET REAL

A combination of factors – longer lifespans, high divorce rates, housing shortages – means there’s only one way the London property market can go. So if the best way is to look elsewhere because you are priced out, I’d be tempted to look where you come from.

• GET A PLAN

Steer away from modern flats in city centres, particularly in northern cities. And don’t follow what all investors are doing, as you’re likely to see an oversupply of similar properties. Target your tenant type – young graduates are consistent, reliable and will always exist – and make sure it fits in with what you can afford in your chosen location.

• GOLD STANDARD

Corporate tenants are talked about in hushed terms as the holy grail of property investment – they’re more reliable and longer term. They are also likely to take properties other tenants might not take, such as family houses owned by so-called “accidental landlords”.

• FIND THE BIG SPENDERS

While the bulk of corporate tenants will be in London, there are other areas that will see high numbers of them. It’s not all about bankers: look for areas that have multi-national companies such as telecoms, manufacturing or pharmaceuticals. They’re likely to be near regional airports – you’ll find a lot of them in the M4 corridor.

• NORTHERN EXPOSURE

Aberdeen is also stuffed full of corporate tenants. You can buy a very nice house for £300,000, yet people drive £100,000 cars. People don’t spend a lot on their properties there, so it’s a good place to be a landlord.

• CUTTING RISK

By having a portfolio of properties, you can balance out your risk. If one property out of 10 has a problematic tenant, such as a shop that goes bust, the other nine can cover it.

• LONG VIEW

The economy and wider markets will influence the commercial (and residential) property market. But unlike stocks and shares, the relative illiquidity of property investment means peaks and troughs can last for years.

• CLASS ACT

Commercial property is a more complicated proposition than residential property. If you get it right, you’ll get an attractive yield. But you need to know what and where to buy and the usage class – if it has a licence to sell food, for example. That can make a big difference to your rent.

• HUMAN TOUCH 

As a small-scale investor facing commercial property agents for the first time, develop a good personal relationship and leave them a set of criteria showing what type of property you want and how you’re financing it.

• BE READY 

Auctions are transparent but you must be organised on the day. You and your solicitor should have looked at the lease and got your finance ready. Basically you need to get all your ducks in a nice, neat row.

• FREE SPIRITED 

Landlords with an empty shop need to consider offering rentfree periods to tenants. If your property is a rundown newsagent and a smart stationery shop approaches you for a 15-year lease, they will need to spend thousands fitting out the property. Agreeing to a couple of months rent-free will ultimately benefit you as the owner.

• FILL WITH CONFIDENCE

You need to have confidence in your tenant’s business and their ability to pay the rent. The better their track record, the more comfortable you will be. One in three UK start-up businesses — and about two thirds of restaurants — fail within the first three years.

• BROADLY COVERED

Make sure you take a big enough deposit to cover the possibility of the tenant being unable to pay the rent. It’s useful to get a clause written into the lease whereby, if one tenant passes on the lease to another, the former is responsible for the rent.

• LOCATION, LOCATION…

Location is key — you need to have a good understanding of the market in a specific area. You’ll often see empty shops a few streets away from a major high-street brand whose neighbouring shops are benefiting (though they’ll be paying more rent).

• HIGHER REWARDS

A successful commercial property investment is, to a large extent, about the quality of tenant. A property may well have one already, which can make the numbers far easier to crunch because you know what rent is being collected – and that will be pretty high, compared with residential rent.

• RISK MANAGEMENT

The quality of a commercial tenure has a big impact on the price you’ll pay. If it’s a major high-street brand name, your risk is reduced. If it’s a betting shop or a takeaway and this is their only business, it’s a risky proposition.

• BEWARE

Commercial property is a very different area to residential property. You’ll be looking at different high streets with different footfalls and target markets and you are competing with big, corporate investors.

• DRESS TO THRILL

If you have a buy-to-let property that won’t let out, try dressing it. If it looks tired, paint it. If there’s condensation on the windows or a mouldy shower, get rid of it. The property must be clean and it must feel like a home rather than an investment property that you don’t care about.

• TRACK RECORD

A property’s purchase price may be affected because it’s on a busy road, overlooking a railway or lacks pleasant views. It will be harder to sell, so it will be cheaper to buy — but it will rent out, making it a good buy-to-let investment property.

• COUNCIL OF WISDOM

Former local authority properties make good rentals as they usually have generous floor space, are well laid out and lack the kind of period detail for which you pay a premium.

 

• LONG-TERM

Whether they are renting with a view to buy or because they can’t move on to ownership in the current climate, generally families are the least transient of tenants as it’s unsettling for a family to move around, so your void periods will be less.

• AGE IS AN ASSET 

Elderly couples/retirees are also desirable tenants — though not common — and corporate tenants who are relocated to the UK for a couple of years are good news as the rent is often paid long in advance.

• AN EASIER OPTION

Buying new-build is the easiest option for expats as it comes with a new lease, a management company who will take care of everything, less hassle and probably more attractive finance.

• LUXURIES COST

It’s easier to buy a new-build for a reason — the developers and/or agents are making some money out of you, too. You may also be paying high service charges for lifestyle luxuries. Will prospective tenants pay more rent as a result?

• TENANTS

In a new-build block, many other owners will probably be landlords, too. Leases will be allocated at the same time, with everyone moving at the same time for a while, so there will be a lot of competition for tenants.

• LIGHT TOUCH

If it is practical to add fresh flowers and light a few candles, it will help make it look homely. But unless you live next door to the property, that’s probably unrealistic. I’d advise cleaning carpets and painting walls between each tenancy.

• LOOKING GOOD

A clean property will appear in a better state of repair, making it far more appealing than rival properties to tenants.

• SHINING STAR

When preparing your property for viewings, the most important thing is cleanliness. Your property doesn’t need to be in immaculate condition but it does need to be spotlessly clean, and kitchens and bathrooms must gleam and shine.

• RIGHT AT THE START

The costs of decorating and furnishing a BTL hit you at once so they need to be budgeted for carefully. If you don’t do it properly, you won’t get the right tenants.

• BE PREPARED

Set aside three months’ rent in case things go wrong or tenants leave. There will always be maintenance costs too, particularly in older buildings, so there needs to be an allowance for that.

• SAFETY FIRST

Don’t assume you can furnish with items you’ve kept stored for years. If they don’t meet fire and safety regulations, they’re no good.

• FEE FI FO FUM

Don’t get caught out by giant mortgage admin fees. £1,000 can easily go without feeling you’re getting anything for it.

• VALUE FOR MONEY 

You should furnish and decorate an investment property to a level that matches the property’s value. But there are certain features that most tenants will want these days such as a dishwasher and a washing machine.

 

• CLEAN SWEEP 

Some landlords with larger and more expensive properties charge a higher rent but also provide a cleaner and a gardener. The cleaner is useful in that they are in a position to let you know if problems such as bathroom leaks occur.

• RATE THE MARKET

When deciding how much you should be charging for your rental property, you have to go with market rates. If you can demonstrate to your tenants that they are not currently paying market price — and that they will pay it elsewhere locally for a comparable property — then you have a case for putting up the rent.

• MAKE A SURE BET

You have to be confident to let your tenants go and risk a void period. You need to work out whether getting a high rent from new tenants would cover the money lost during the void period in between tenants. Or you need to be confident that when your tenants start looking elsewhere for comparable properties, they won’t find anything offering better value.

• EMPLOY EXPERTS

If your investment property is a long way from your home, you need an agent who will manage your property. I use a specialist lettings agent — someone who purely focuses on letting properties, not selling them, too.

• STRIKE A DEAL

For a standard management and tenant-finding service, expect to pay around 15 per cent of your monthly rent. If you have more than one property, consider a deal, such as you find the tenants and they manage the properties.

• PEACE OF MIND

Lettings agents’ fees can seem chunky. But if you can’t get to the property easily, and you don’t have a contact for a good plumber who can get there quickly, then maybe it’s a price worth paying.

• KEEP TENANTS SWEET

If you have good tenants, then look after them. Then if they have a grumble about something going wrong, it’s probably warranted. Fix the problem as soon as you can and if you have to interrupt them to send someone to do repairs, then maybe a free week’s rent is worth offering as a goodwill gesture. You need to look after tenants these days as void periods are the killer.

• WATER CARRY ON

Flooded bathrooms are a common problem. Bad ventilation, sealing or grouting are small problems that, in your own home, you would fix rapidly and for next to nothing. In a rented house, tenants will see a leak and think, so what? It leaks month after month, they forget to mention it to the agent, and it stains the ceiling of the flat below. That means taking the ceiling down, two damaged properties and expensive repairs. And blocked gutters should be cleared quickly before water begins to drip down the wall and damage the plasterwork.

• LOOK FOR THE SIGNS

Hotspots pop up if there are changes to the transport infrastructure or employment, or if a university is expanding by building a big new campus. This has happened a lot in recent years.

• NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH

Also look for anomalies in value. If you find two or three expensive areas with a slightly down-at-heel neighbour, that’s an anomaly that won’t last for ever.

• THE DOMINO EFFECT

Examples in London are Earl’s Court, which was always seen as the poor man’s Chelsea, and Paddington, with Notting Hill and Holland Park nearby. The councils closed down the cheap hostels and imposed strict fire regulations they knew the landlords couldn’t comply with. What was seen as shabby but as architecturally beautiful as its neighbours — the attractive architecture is a crucial component — had virtually caught up pricewise within five years.

• YIELD v CAPITAL GAIN 

When deciding whether you are going for yield, capital appreciation or a bit of both, I go for a bit of both. Bear in mind, though, that with this option, you won’t maximise either. And look at net yields – not gross. Net yields needs to be ahead of all your expenses and some amateur landlords underestimate the costs involved in owning an investment property.

• EMPTY PROPERTIES EQUALS LOSS 

Void periods are the killer. If the tenants haven’t looked after your property and you need to repaint and recarpet when they leave, suddenly you’re left with a month’s void. That can ruin your year’s figures.

• LOOK AFTER YOUR TENANTS

Fix things as quickly as you can and respond pleasantly if they tell you there’s a problem – otherwise, next time, they may not bother, and the problem will escalate from being a tiny one into a big, costly one.

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Harley Roberts Property Ltd
Property Management Compoany
2E Whitby Road,
Ellesmere Port,
CH65 8AD
0151 345 6827
0151 345 6827
info@harleyrobertsproperty.co.uk