10 Tips On How To Be A Better Landlord
1. Treat your tenants like paying customers
So many landlords take it for granted that when they have a property to let that tenants will just come running. Wrong. Tenants are paying customers and right now there is a lot of choice for them on the property market. It is important that you understand that tenants are paying customers – they are paying for a service and a product which you are providing.
2. Treat your property like a product
You need to understand that your property is the product which you are selling. Be it a small studio or a large detached house – it is a product. It is something which a tenant (customer) you hope will buy. When thinking of selling your product you need to make sure you are pitching it to the right customers (those who have the money and the desire to buy your product). Sell it to them with your product features in mind (e.g. transport links, en-suite, large garden etc)
3. Treat your buy to let as a business
Renting out properties may be a pension pot or an additional source of income. Either way – it is a business. You have got into buy-to-let because you intend to make money. That means you must run this as a business and not as a hobby. What that means is keeping accurate records, ensuring you meet current regulations and ensuring that your business complies with the laws of the land.
4. Pay attention to the changing market place
As in any market place, new products (properties) are coming onto the market all the time. It is critical to keep up to date which other changes which may be afoot and which may mean you change your business strategy. For example, it may be there is a glut of 3 bed family homes on the market but a shortage of rooms to rent. This may mean that your 3 bed house may be better suited as a shared property of 4 rooms.
5. Be ready to react
When you are aware of the trends in the market place it enables you to react quicker and be ahead of the crowd. This means that you should ensure your property is rented quickly and reduces voids. You should also be aware of when your property is overpriced or there is an oversupply and re-adjust your prices accordingly. Empty properties are expensive properties.
6. Encourage and reward customer (tenant) loyalty
When you have good tenants reward them for being loyal to you. Consider if you really need to put up the rent? What other things can you do to improve their lives – maybe just a can of paint if they want to redecorate can make them feel that you care more. DIY vouchers can also go a long way to making a tenant feel rewarded. Some landlords also tell tenants upfront that if they always pay their rent on time and look after the property they will get a small rebate at the end of each year.
7. Look after your property.
Maintaining your property in good condition is critical to looking after your customers. When things break/ go wrong make sure you deal with it in a timely and efficient manner and always ensure the tenant is kept in the information loop. It is a good idea to ask them if a contractor can contact them direct to organise repairs and also to give them the contractors number. That way you can be sure they have another contact point.
8. Be a great landlord/ Choose a great agent
Tenants need to trust their agents/ landlords and feel that the rent they are paying looks after the house in a legal and safe way. That means they need to feel that you look after the house and that you would not intentionally do anything to endanger them (e.g. not having gas safe checks done). Repairs should be sorted in a timely manner and tenants should not feel afraid to report issues for fear of being evicted. It is important to keep a professional yet friendly manner with tenants.
9. Expect things to go wrong
S*** happens to the best of us and sometimes when it happens to tenants it can also impact on landlords. When this happens it is critical that the tenant feels able to communicate this so that a solution can be found and your rent still paid. This can range from losing their job, a relationship breaking down and you needing to complete housing benefit forms with them to giving them a month’s grace while they sort themselves out. If you can act as an advisor to find the solution you will find that rent will always find a way to your bank.
10. Be ready to move on
Tenants, like all customers, will come to a point where they want to buy somebody else’s product. Be ready for this – it is a fact of the business. Always ensure that your properties are kept well maintained, cleaned and well marketed with all the top property portals. Make sure you advertise everywhere and if you use an agent choose one who offers a great service – not the cheapest!