Landlords get bad press. Often thought of as tight fisted, penny pinching misers that just want to make fast cash with little regard for their properties or their tenants. Let's change that!
Nice properties and nice landlords attract nice tenants:
It might sound obvious, but first impressions really do count. If the outside of your property is in a state then decent prospective tenants won't want to venture further than the front door. Your first job should be to blitz the property. Clean everything to a high standard (Imagine your mother is coming round). Not only will this attract better tenants, it will set the standard you expect when your tenants leave (and you'll make your mum happy too).
Maximise the impact of first impressions at a viewing by addressing the finer details, ensuring you present your property to its full potential – this should help secure a longer tenancy, great tenants and a better price.
It's good to talk:
Regularly making the top three complaints about landlords (after rent hikes and repair issues) poor communication can be frustrating for tenants and lead to bigger problems.
Maintaining a regular dialogue with your tenant will help any issues that arise during the tenancy to be dealt with proactively. Make sure your new tenant is given all the essential paperwork on moving in day. If you can't be there, make sure a copy of everything is left in the property for them. You should look to cover things such as the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), Gas safety certificate, tenancy agreement and copies of manuals for the appliances etc.
Not essential, but a nice touch would be information on what day the bins go out, where the nearest shops are and where a decent pub is.
Turning up unannounced is usually inconvenient. In fact, it’s actually illegal to turn up at your tenant’s home without giving 24 hours’ notice.
Some landlords do pop over as they’re 'passing'. Don't do this. If you need to check the gas meter, or the neighbours have complained about noise, or you just want to make sure everything is ok, hang fire. An 'on the fly' visit might suit you, but your tenants probably won't feel the same. A landlord turning up unannounced is an invasion of their privacy.
Write a letter and let them know why you want to come round then agree on a date and time.
Regular property visits are important and every three to six months is acceptable. Always give them as much written notice as possible, plus phone the day before the visit to check they got your letter. This personal contact and chatting to the tenant helps maintain a good relationship.
Pets are your friends:
Although it's perfectly reasonable that some landlords don't want a crazy cat lady as a tenant, there’s actually a strong argument for letting your property to a tenant with pets.
On average, it takes pet owners longer to find a rental property than tenants without pets. If you’re willing to sacrifice the odd rug or chewed chair – you effectively tap into a whole new customer base as your property gets on the radar of thousands of pet loving renters in the UK. Additionally, since it’s so difficult for pet owners, once in pet-friendly accommodation they will be less likely to move out at short notice.
Cats and dogs are undoubtedly the UK's favourite type of pet and carry a certain amount of risk to a property. However, there’s virtually no risk attached to a goldfish, or even a lizard (unless you're a fly) – so being flexible with regards to some pets could actually help you find the perfect tenant… even if they do bring a friend.
A little extra goes a long way:
They’re your tenant, your customer, not your friend. And although it's important not to blur the lines between being professional and being a mate, keeping tenants onside is desirable wherever possible.
Keeping some emotional distance from your tenant just in case one day you ever have to evict them or meet up against them in court is fine, but a birthday card or a ‘one year tenancy’ gift could stop that from happening in the first place. In fact, there are lots of things you can do which won’t cost you much at all. Next time you're at the Post Office, stock up on change of address forms. You can give one to all of your new tenants. A pint of milk and some teabags waiting for them on moving in day? Winner.
Hating their landlord is just another reason a tenant might have for moving on prematurely.
We all know how it goes. It was wonderful at first but now the magic has faded. Don’t take your long-term tenants for granted. When you visit (see 'Popping over'), is the furnature ok or does it need replacing? What about other repairs? Is the property looking tired and in need of a refresh? If these are jobs which you would have to do anyway if your long-term tenant moved out then why wait?
Do them now. Save yourself the hassle of a void period and having to start the process all over again.