Looking after your tenants is becoming increasingly important. Good tenants are worth their weight in gold – or more specifically, rental income – so keeping them happy and forging a strong relationship from the beginning can help secure a home for them, and a reliable source of income for you.
Anyone can advertise a property and take a tenant’s money, but not everyone is highly regarded as a landlord.
You don’t have to be at the beck and call of tenants to be a good landlord. Some basic things can elevate your status from a good landlord to a great one:
1. Sort out any issues before renting out
Scrimping on fixtures, fittings and maintenance just to let a property out gets everything off to a bad start, annoying tenants who find faults and possibly costing you more in the long-term as you spend time and money making repairs.
Get off to a good start by ensuring everything works and is in a good state of repair, from central heating to cookers, white goods to drawers and fitted wardrobes. Set a good example by making sure the property is as clean and tidy as you would expect it to be when your tenant eventually leaves.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a property to make it a welcoming place to be, and less issues at the start mean less demand on you later – a win-win situation for you and your tenants.
2. Don’t overequip your property
Unfurnished lets are often welcomed by tenants who have plenty of their own possessions, particularly families or professionals. But if your property is furnished, do not go overboard. The more items you equip a home with, the more likelihood that something will go wrong, with potential dangers from electrical goods like kettles.
A working washing machine, cooker and microwave might reasonably be expected, but not necessarily a dishwasher or a television.
However, don’t necessarily go for the cheapest goods you can find. Better quality fixtures and fittings are likely to be more durable and last longer, and be appreciated by tenants who are more likely to respect them.
The less there is to go wrong, the less onus on you to put things right.
3. Set the right rent – and only raise it when necessary
Make sure you compare your property with others in your area to ensure what you are charging is reasonable. Review the market and your own circumstances regularly to make sure that you are not charging too much.
If you know you have reliable tenants, you might wish to keep the cost of rent down in the knowledge that they will always pay you on time and respect your property. That can be more important than asking for a higher rent from a tenant but not being paid, or receiving payment on time but having your property trashed!
4. Provide a welcome pack
Not many landlords welcome new tenants by providing them with a welcome pack, yet it’s common practice in holiday homes.
It’s good for tenants to know how the boiler works, how to get hold of you, where their nearest hospital, GP surgery or takeaway restaurants are and so on. This can be especially helpful for those new to the area.
It doesn’t take long to put a simple folder together, including contact details of trusted tradesmen and your own contact details in case of emergencies. And even a couple of tea bags, a sachet of coffee and a small bag of biscuits can give your tenants something to start with and welcome them to their new home!
5. Don’t rely on your tenants to tell you when something’s wrong
In times of heavy rain, your guttering might start to overflow. You could have damp building up in an unused room. Or your garden might be dug up by next door’s pets.
Will your tenant be bothered about these things? Possibly not. They are only likely to report them to you if the overflowing guttering is dripping on their head as they leave the house, for example.
That’s why it’s important to inspect your property as often as necessary – but don’t turn up unannounced!
6. Be clear on tenant responsibilities
Make it known to tenants what is expected of them from the beginning, in terms of looking after the property, making payments on time and any other reasonably expected behaviours.
Lay out the rules and the consequences up-front, and there will be less chance of arguments or even legal consequences later. Tenants will also be in no doubt as to what they need to do to keep the property in good order and become reliable people to deal with.
7. Be available – but on your own terms
Tenants will expect to be able to contact you if things go wrong, but that doesn’t mean you want to be on the end of the phone to them 24/7.
It’s good to know your tenants, but you don’t want to become their best friend, as things could go wrong and leave you in a predicament. Treat them professionally.
Tell tenants what times your number will be manned. Try keeping a separate number purely for the use of your tenants, especially if you have more than one property, and tell them when you will answer calls and when they can expect a response.
Give them an email address, too. That way, if they contact you about any issues, there is a written record of them in case any future issues arise – always useful in case of disputes.
There will always be the likelihood of an emergency, but if your tenant knows that an emergency is a burst pipe or a fire rather than the cold water tap in the bathroom slowly dripping, then you will both have the right boundaries to work with!
8. Get your boiler serviced annually
Tied into making sure everything works is ensuring the most important item in the home is trouble-free: the boiler. A lack of hot water means no showers and no heating, and is bound to cause distress for tenants and stress for you in trying to fix it.
You must have an annual gas safety check, so why not get the boiler serviced at the same time? If you budget for this each year, it can prove cost-effective by extending the life of your boiler and addressing issues before they arise.
9. Tell your tenant if you plan on selling your property before you put it on the market
Many tenants are confronted with a ‘For Sale’ sign being hammered up on their property before their landlords have spoken to them.
Don’t let your tenants be the last to know if you’re selling up. They may need to find somewhere else to go if a purchaser wants to move in themselves, but in some cases, they might even be in a position to buy from you – especially if they have stayed in the property for long enough to raise a deposit for their own home – so it makes sense to make them aware in case they want to stay where they are.
10. Get the right insurance
Without good quality insurance in place, things can go wrong and be costly to put right. Specialist landlord insurance is important to protect your buildings, contents, liabilities and more. Standard home insurance is not designed to give you the cover you need.
Follow our guide to landlord insurance to find out what you need to consider when taking out cover on a property.
Speak to Quoteline Direct to look after your landlord insurance needs on 0161 874 7747 or get a quote for cover.