Sunday, 5 November 2017

Becoming a Landlord: Getting to Grips with the Basics



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The current housing market has seen increasing numbers of people opting to rent privately from independent landlords. So this is a better time than ever to invest in a property to let. There are more people searching, meaning that you can easily fill an empty property in next to no time.  Becoming a landlord is an extremely rewarding experience. It’s a great way to earn some money on the side of your usual income, as well as your usual line of work. It also means that you can help an individual, friends, a couple, or a family to settle down in a comfortable, well-maintained home. However, all of this does come with its fair share of hard work at the same time. When you provide someone with housing, you have certain responsibilities to uphold. So, to help you along the way, here are a few things to bear in mind. Remember that it’s always better to get to grips with the basics sooner rather than later.



Finding a Property to Let

First things first, you’re going to need to invest in a property to let. The ideal property will draw as much interest and attention as possible, so of course, the best way to determine which to invest in, you will have to familiarise yourself of the location and its general demographic. Inner cities tend to be the homes of students and young professionals. This means that studio apartments and other forms of apartments tend to be the most popular housing options. In the suburbs where there are amenities such as schools and effective public transport links, you are more likely to come across interest from families. So larger, detached and semi-detached houses are a better bet. Once you’ve selected a property, make sure that it is presentable. Otherwise, people are unlikely to show any further interest following viewings. Renovations may be necessary, but worth the investment. A fresh coat of paint is also a good idea, just to spruce things up a little.

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Responsibilities

Once you’re ready to start letting out your property, there’s one thing that should rise above anything else, including profit: the safety and well-being of your tenants. When you become a landlord, you become responsible for the maintenance of habitable living conditions for those who are paying rent. Here are a few of your responsibilities to keep an eye on.

Safety

You need to ensure that your property is as safe as possible. This means taking precautions such as fitting smoke detectors, fire alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors on each and every floor of the property. You can take extra steps, such as installing sprinklers, labeling fire exits, and fitting fire extinguishers or fire blankets in the property.

Rent Book

You must supply your tenants with a rent book. This is essentially a means of documenting their rent payments. However, it should also include information such as your full name and address, the amount payable to you, when payments are due, how the amount should be paid, how much deposit has been placed down by the tenant, and perhaps even the terms and conditions of your agreement.

Insurance

As the landlord of a property, it’s your responsibility to insure the property itself. This policy should cover problems such as fire and flooding. Contents insurance, on the other hand, falls down to your tenants. If they want to protect their own belongings, then that is entirely up to them and out of your hands.

Maintenance

You need to maintain the property, ensuring that it is always in a condition that allows for a good quality of living. This means tackling problems such as damp, mould, instability in the property’s structure, and various other potential hazards. If you have furnished the property or supplied certain appliances, it is important that you also perform routine maintenance on them. This can include replacing malfunctioning or broken appliances and fixtures or calling someone in to repair them to a good standard.

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Rights

As a landlord, you also have rights. If your tenants are not sticking to their terms of the rental agreement, you can take action. It is important that you do this in the correct way as according to correct legal procedure. Under no circumstances can you harass your tenants, regardless of the situation. As soon as someone moves into your property, it becomes their home, and you must respect it as such. This means that you cannot enter without permission. Unannounced visits need not be answered. You must not cut off essential supplies (such as gas, electricity, or water) in order to force tenants out either. Instead, seek help from a professional solicitor. Opt for someone with a positive reputation and great customer feedback, such as Bannister Preston. They will be able to give you all of the right advice, informing you of your legal position and ensuring that unruly tenants are evicted in due course. Though certain situations may be frustrating, it's important to remain calm and professional at all times.

In short, you want to ensure that your property is in a condition that you’d be happy to live in yourself and to have as amiable a relationship with your tenants as possible. While the latter may not always be feasible, the first can be assured. However, you can always conduct interviews with potential tenants to give yourself good faith in your chosen tenant’s good character. These can be conducted in person, over the phone, or by email. Once you’ve spruced your property up, brought it up to date with the latest safety regulations, and it’s ready to go on the market, you’re pretty much ready and set to go. Remember to read up on any changes to the law concerning landlords and tenants, as things change constantly and you may need to make certain changes or improvements down the line. This is the best way to protect yourself from claims and to ensure that everyone is kept happy and content.

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