When you say the word “landlord”, there are a number of thoughts that can come to someone’s mind. For many, those ideas won’t be universally positive, as most people can remember a negative experience with a rental property at some point in their lives. So when it comes to buying a house with the intention of letting it out, you may well have some misgivings about becoming a landlord or lady.
Naturally, you will not want to create those negative thoughts in the mind of your future tenants, so it is important to consider how you go about the business of renting out a home. While you won’t want to be too lenient, there is a way of striking a balance that will ensure you are in the good books and never have to wait long between tenancies in any of your houses.
Always give advance notice of any visits
Let’s be honest about one thing right away; no tenant relishes the idea of a visit from the owner of the property. Even if they always keep the home scrupulously clean and tidy from the moment they move in, the thought of opening up their home to scrutiny is nerve-wracking. It is all the more so if the visit is unannounced. Some landlords will insist on being allowed access to the property at any time, underlining that they own the place, after all. This will not go over well with tenants, who like any other human being value their privacy – so make sure that you aren’t that kind of landlord.
Set, as a policy, a 48-hour buffer zone. If you need to get signatures on a tenancy agreement, carry out basic repairs or enter the property for any reason, call your tenants two working days in advance so that they can make arrangements. Emphasise that rule to your tenants and stick to it, and they’ll be much more comfortable – and much more likely to stick around and keep paying rent on time.
While you need to be hands-off enough to let your tenants feel comfortable in the property, it’s not a good idea to be an absentee landlord. First of all, you do need to carry out inspections every once in a while, and second, you need to be accessible to your tenants. If something in the house breaks down, then it is your job to ensure it is fixed, calling out a plumber to mend any leaks or an electrician to ensure any wiring issues are remedied. If you’re handy enough, you may even fix it yourself – but you have to be available.
Your tenants will not call you unless they really need to get hold of you; they’d much sooner go about their business without stress. So it really does you no harm to be the kind of landlord who is attentive when they are contacted.
Offer flexibility and make it a selling point
If you’ve been a tenant yourself, then you will know how restrictive some contracts and some landlords can be. Now you own a property, you will surely understand why that restriction is sometimes considered necessary, but again, you want tenants to want to stay. A tenant in your property means you’re getting the costs covered this month, whereas if you scare them away then you’re paying the mortgage and upkeep on a vacant property. Being flexible and offering something other landlords won’t is essential.
Discuss with a letting agent what kind of things they often hear requested from renters. In many cases, they will want to be able to keep pets – something many landlords refuse on the basis of noise and cleanliness. Make the point that pets are welcome in your property as long as there are provisions made to ensure that noise, hygiene and any other issues are not a problem. Many of your potential tenants will have pets. Others will want to get one while they’re renting. Cutting yourself off from that large potential customer base will do you no favours.
It can be tricky to strike a balance between being the landlord people want to rent from, and being a soft touch who ends up with problem tenants they don’t want to evict. What is important is that you make sure your tenants know two things. Firstly, the property is yours overall and you expect that it will be treated with respect and care. And secondly, as long as your tenants play fair by you, you’ll return the favour with pleasure, which suits both parties.