Some landlords take to the role like ducks to water: they enjoy the challenge of managing a property and liaising with tenants and letting agents. Others may see property management as an extra chore. If you want to flourish as a landlord, you need to grasp a few basic principles. Once you have done that, you will really be able to enjoy your new responsibilities – and see the benefits. Here is our mini guide for landlords.
Make sure you use a reputable solicitor or letting agent to draw up the tenancy agreement which will form the legal basis on which the property is let. Familiarise yourself with the main provisions in the agreement, particularly any small print about pets etc., and make sure that your tenant does the same. It is essential, if time-consuming, to make a full inventory of the contents of the property and the condition of the furniture, appliances etc. “It is always advisable for a third party to carry out the inventory checks, so the report remains unbiased,” says Nicola Merry, Lettings Manager at Kay & Co. “You should also take pictures of the property with any defects. This may prove to be useful if any disputes arise in the future.”
Separately, remember that it is incumbent on you as landlord to protect your tenants’ deposit under an approved deposit protection scheme. Most agents will register the deposit for their clients as part of the service. For more information, visit the government’s website: www.gov.uk/deposit-protection-schemes-and-landlords/overview.
The personal touch is everything in a good landlord-tenant relationship, particularly at the outset of a tenancy. A friendly chat over a cup of coffee can often be the best way to build bridges. Make sure the tenant has your contact details, always respond promptly to their communications and respond to their concerns. It is good practice to keep a record of your emails and the signed tenancy agreement.
3. Right to rent
“Landlords need to check that their tenants can rent in the UK,” adds Nicola Merry, Lettings Manager at Kay & Co. “All agents should carry out these important checks before a tenant moves into the property and make diary reminders for when passports and visas are due for renewal. If the agent is carrying out the ongoing checks as part of the management service, then this element is looked after for them.”
For more details, visit the government’s website: www.gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents/who-to-check
Be meticulous in checking that gas and electricity suppliers conform to regulations and are maintained and checked by a registered engineer. Install smoke-alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and check them regularly. For more details, visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords.
Keep contact details of dependable local plumbers, electricians, etc. who can deal with any problems that arise at short notice. If you are using a lettings agent to manage the property on your behalf, they will have this information at their disposal to help when needed.
6. Non-Resident Landlord Tax
Non-resident landlords need to fill out a relevant NRL form to ensure the base rate tax is not deducted from their rental income. For more details, visit
7. Referencing and insurance
A well-known referencing agency will carry out important credit checks, but these are usually organised by a letting agent as part of their due diligence process. This is usually carried out to satisfy landlord insurance companies, too.
8. A happy tenant
Try to strike the right balance between allowing a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the property and upholding the landlord’s responsibility and obligations to repair the property. Get that balance right and your tenants will notice and appreciate it.
9. Mid-term inspection
“If an agent is managing the property, then every six months, it is important to ensure the home is being maintained and cared for. Similarly, it is a useful to ensure there are no out-standing maintenance issues that may need addressing that could cause the tenant any unnecessary disturbance,” explains Merry.
10. The bottom line
If you are lucky enough to have the same tenants for an extended period, a time will come when it is appropriate to raise the rent. However, it is worth forfeiting a little extra rental income to keep good, dependable tenants – who will cost you less in the long run.
The art of being a good landlord is 90 per cent common sense. But it is a fun skill to acquire and, if you approach the role in the right way, you will reap the benefits.
* Contact Kay & Co estate agents for details of properties for sale or to rent in Marylebone, Bayswater, Paddington, Notting Hill, Mayfair, Fitzrovia, Regents Park and The West End (020 7262 2030 Kay & Co).