As another year begins it's a useful time to re-think and refine your role as a landlord in order to provide the best service for your tenant and maximise your property's profit potential.
Owner of Belvoir Wrexham, Vaughan Schofield shares five simple resolutions that should be on every investment landlord's 'To Do' list for the year to come...
Resolution 1: Tenant talk – it's time to improve communication with your tenant
Most of us do not wish to have a difficult relationship with others and most disputes are simply a result of a misunderstanding, usually arising from poor communication.
It's important to understand one another's perception of events and the world as each of us see it. Having a continuous communication channel between tenant and landlord allows each to get to know the other better and gain an insight into predominant strengths, weaknesses and key responsibilities.
Committing to clear and concise communication is of mutual interest. A tenant will desire a comfortable home and a sense of security, while a landlord will be looking for longevity of a tenancy and therefore both parties will benefit from enjoying a good relationship with the other.
Resolution 2: Visiting hours – set dates for a series of regular inspections
Regular inspections of your property are a must. They allow you to assess maintenance needs and check that the tenant is living within the terms of their Tenancy Agreement. Without these vital visits you will have no idea what's going on behind closed doors.
As well as helping to protect your investment they also strengthen the landlord/tenant relationship. They are an opportunity for questions to be asked by both parties, plus they allow the landlord to demonstrate that they care about the property and its condition.
Additionally, inspections are a 'running commentary' which enable you to gain a greater understanding of the key benefits and 'selling points' of the property. This is particularly important if it's somewhere you've never lived yourself and this valuable information will help you add colour to your dialogue when remarketing to other tenants.
Resolution 3: Protect your property – resolve maintenance issues and repairs at speed
There are two major advantages of keeping on top of maintenance issues as they arise.
Firstly, you will keep your tenant happy… and happy tenants pay rent and stay longer.
Secondly, acting at speed can help protect your investment. Your rental property is money tied up in bricks and mortar and if you don't attend to its needs in a timely and efficient way you are effectively reducing the value of your asset.
In addition to resolving maintenance issues, keeping the property up to date and fresh is also important,” he continues. “It will allow the property to move with the market, plus potentially increase its resale value.
As it's the tenant's responsibility to return the property in the same condition as when they moved in (less fair wear and tear), presenting a property which is contemporary and well cared for means that's what you will get back at the end of the tenancy (or a deposit claim can be made).
Resolution 4: Future thoughts – think ahead to maximise your profit potential
Preparing for the future by creating an exit strategy and in-depth portfolio planner is crucial.
Investing in property is a journey and, like any other journey, if you don't know where you're going and you have no direction you're very quickly going to get lost.
You should always know what your destination is. What is at the end of the journey? What does the end of the journey look like? This will help clarify what you're hoping to achieve and, if you know what the 'end' looks like, it will be easily recognisable when you reach it.
As different life stages may dictate your direction it's also a good idea to regularly revisit your plans to review and renew your thoughts.”
Resolution 5: Ask for help – make use of your local property management agent
Do you fully understand the range of services offered by your local letting agent? If not, ask.
Landlords want to invest in property for a variety of reasons but not all will have the time or desire to get involved in the day-to-day running of the tenancy.
In fact, managing a rental property can be challenging. One party will regard the property as their home, the other as their investment. Add to this the financial considerations for both parties, issues of maintenance and who's responsible for what… and it can soon become an emotive mix.
A good property management agent can act as a firewall for the landlord. They will also be up-to-date with legislation and will understand about legal compliance. They can be your eyes and ears, plus they can run all practical aspects of the tenancy too.
Additionally, they will look after the yield of your property by implementing fair rent increases and helping to protect its infrastructure through regular inspections and the timely execution of maintenance and repairs.
As experts in the industry, our help, advice, support and knowledge can be valuable tools for landlords, both old and new. So, if you're unsure what your local letting agent can do for you, make sure 2017 is the year that you find out.