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First-time landlord? Here’s what you need to know

Mon 10 Sep 2018

First-time landlord? Here’s what you need to know

If you’re letting a property for the first time, you may be a bit in the dark about what exactly it involves. You might even be an accidental landlord, renting out your home through circumstances rather than design.

If either of the above are the case, there are certain things that are important to bear in mind to give you the best chance of getting the most from your rental property.

Whether you’re a new landlord starting out on a quest to build a good-sized portfolio over time, or someone who is more happy managing one or two properties, you should know that the rewards and benefits can be considerable if you target your home well, select the right tenants and work closely with an experienced letting agent to maximise your yields.

Below, using our knowhow as West Lothian’s first dedicated lettings agency, we have compiled some top tips for those landlords just starting out…

Fill your home with good tenants

A key step, occupying your home with reliable, well-behaved tenants will give you peace of mind, regular rental income and a home that is well looked after.

Once you’ve decided that the landlord life is for you, one of your first steps will be to fill your home with tenants.

Advertising your property in the right places is therefore crucial, ensuring it reaches the widest possible audience. A combination of online and traditional methods will help you to achieve this; so a presence on portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, where a huge number of tenants search for properties to rent, but also To Let signs, newspaper advertising and full colour marketing photos.

If you don’t feel comfortable showing tenants around your property, get your agent to carry out accompanied viewings, putting across your home’s major benefits.

Prioritise safety

As a landlord, you have a legal (and moral) responsibility to keep your tenants safe and in habitable conditions at all times. Failure to do so could lead to severe penalties, criminal prosecutions and even prison.

All electrical equipment, white goods and plug sockets must adhere to safety guidelines. In addition, you should regularly have your boiler serviced to ensure it is working efficiently and safely.

Make sure that all furnishings and furniture are fire-safe or fire retardant and get a Gas Safety Certificate or CP12 for your property. This certificate is a legal requirement for all landlords and confirms that all gas appliances are safe and free from danger.

As a landlord, you are also obliged to carry out an annual gas safety check, which will help to ensure there is no risk to tenants from the gas supply, as well as making sure that all pipework, flues and appliances are installed and maintained correctly.

You also need to provide new tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which gives them information on how energy efficient a building is and how it could be improved. If you let your home and don’t provide an EPC, you could face a minimum fine of £500. The same is true if you don’t include your home’s energy rating when advertising it.

What’s more, you have responsibilities when it comes to smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, with recent amendments to the 30 year old Housing (Scotland) Act made in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy requiring all homes in Scotland to have a minimum number of smoke alarms. Once the law is updated, all private homes – including all privately rented homes – will need to have at least one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used, have at least one smoke alarm in spaces such as hallways and landings, have at least one heat alarm in every kitchen and have a carbon monoxide detector.

In addition to the above, there will be a 10-year age limit for alarms and all alarms will have to be ceiling-mounted and interlinked.

Keep on top of maintenance

To attract tenants in the first place your home will need to be well-maintained. But it’s equally important that the home is kept this way over time. You, or your letting agent, should react to maintenance issues in a timely manner, carrying out any repairs as and when they are needed.

Some matters will be more urgent than others – a broken fridge or boiler will be more pressing than a broken handle or wonky shelf – but tenants will appreciate a quick response time and a sense that they are valued. Even if an issue can’t be resolved quickly, communicate with your tenants to keep them in the loop.

Ensure your home looks its best

If you want to get your landlord experience off to the best start, your home needs to look the part – especially if you’re operating in high demand areas where competition is fierce.

Give your rental home a thorough once-over before you let any tenants see it. Spruce up any garden space you happen to have (this will have particular appeal to family and retired renters) and declutter as much as possible.

Tenants will want to put their own stamp on a property to make it feel like home, and this is much less likely if the property already feels too lived-in or personalised.

A good, experienced letting agent will help you to come to terms with being a landlord and will reduce the stress, pressure and hassle of letting a home.

At Letting Solutions we have the knowledge to help you get the most from your rental properties. Please call us on 01506 496 006. We also provide a free and instant online valuation to give you an idea of how much you could be charging in rent each month.