10 Top Tips on How to Be a Good Landlord
Becoming a landlord can be a great path to extra income. But if you’re just starting out with your first rental property, learning how to be a good landlord might take time. These ten tips will help you figure out what’s really important for building a good relationship with your tenants, and making sure that your property is protected.
1. Set a tenancy agreement
A tenancy agreement is a good idea, and it protects everyone involved. Your tenancy agreement agrees the responsibilities for you as the landlord and also for the tenant of a property. Part of being a good landlord is making sure that your tenant knows the rules of the property, so if anything should go wrong, you both know what’s been agreed to.
That’s why having a clear, comprehensive agreement (also known as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, or AST) can help if problems occur down the line. Hopefully if you’re following our tips for being a good landlord, you won’t run into any issues with your tenants, but if your tenant thinks you should be doing something you haven’t arranged to, you can point to the exact clause that you’ve both signed and agreed.
2. Keep things professional
Hopefully, you and your tenants will get on well, and your relationship will be a happy one while they’re living in your property. But it’s also important to maintain boundaries on both sides. It’s always good to be friendly – think cards at Christmas, or a quick chat about how they’re getting on if you’re called over to fix something. But if you and your tenants are too close you’re putting yourself at risk of an awkward situation if there are issues with the house or with the rent. Good landlords should aim to keep things friendly but formal.
3. Make an inventory that’s fair
Making an inventory of the house when your tenants move in protects both parties. It can be time consuming to record the contents of the house and their condition, but it’s definitely worth taking the time. Take photographs of each room, and of any existing damages or blemishes. That way, you both know and can prove exactly what the property looked like when they moved in. This will make working out deposits at the end of their tenancy much easier for both of you.
4. Get landlord insurance
It’s an extra cost, but good landlords insurance is an essential. It covers you in the event of damage to your property, environmental issues and loss of rent if you have rogue tenants. Making sure that you and your property are insured means that even if things do go wrong, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, lots of buy-to-let mortgages will require you to take out landlord insurance before your tenants move in.
5. Protect your tenant’s deposit
Putting down a deposit on your property is likely to be a big investment for your tenants, so it’s important that it’s properly protected. In fact, legally you have to protect your tenant’s initial deposit, using a government-approved deposit scheme. There are three options to choose from – the Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits, and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
When your tenant pays their deposit, you’ll need to let them know which scheme you’re using, how they can get their deposit back, and any terms of the deposit. If there’s a dispute, the deposit will be protected and held in the scheme until you can get things sorted. You can find more information about tenancy deposit protection at Gov.uk.
6. Put safety first
As a landlord, it’s absolutely vital that your property is safe for your tenants. You have a legal obligation to make sure that you’re keeping up to safety standards, and if you don’t comply you risk invalidating your tenancy agreement and landlord insurance. Here are the safety responsibilities that landlords must keep to:
- Have any gas and electrical equipment installed by a registered engineer
- Make sure any gas and electrical equipment is safe
- Make sure equipment is checked annually, including an annual gas safety check, and provide your tenants with a copy of the gas safety check record
- Install fire alarms on every storey and carbon monoxide alarms, and check them regularly
- Make sure that there are escape routes in case of fire
- Make sure furniture and furnishings are firesafe
You can find the full list of legal requirements at Gov.uk.
7. Invest in your property
One of our top tips for being a good landlord is to make sure that your property is in a good state. You don’t have to be redecorating every year to keep up to the latest interior trends, but make sure that the property is well looked after. Depending on what you’ve decided in your tenancy agreement, you might want to invest in your property to make sure it’s suitable and comfortable for your current tenants (and any prospective future renters!) Great landlords might consider replacing worn-out carpets, repainting walls to neutral shades, and making sure that necessary appliances are up to date. Keeping your property up to date and well-maintained will help to attract good quality tenants, and show your current renters that you care about their standard of living.
8. Be flexible, but set your limits
Being professional is an important part of being a good landlord, but it’s also important to remember that your tenants are people too. Your tenants might face their own challenges, which is why it’s important to be flexible! For example, if you want your tenants to pay their rent on time, offer them different options to make it as easy as possible for them. Ask when they’re paid, and how they would prefer to pay their rent – direct debits on a set day are one of the best ways to make sure that rent payments are made easily and conveniently.
If your tenants are going through some bad times or struggling with rent payments, try to be flexible and figure out a way forward together. Great landlords will be empathetic and really try to understand their situation, and make sure that you’re clear about what you can do to help so they know where they stand. You may face a situation where you have to deal with a tenant refusing to pay rent – if that happens, be polite, firm, and keep records of what’s said and done.
9. Make sure your tenants can contact you
Communication is a key part of being a good landlord, so make sure your tenants can get in touch with you. An email address is a good option, as it means that there’s a record of your communication, but you should also make sure that your tenants have a mobile phone number for you so they can reach you in an emergency. Make sure you’re contactable, and that your renters know you’re there to help. You should also let tenants know if you’re going on holiday and who they should contact while you’re away.
10. Fix things quickly
Having problems in the house that don’t get fixed promptly is probably one of the biggest concerns for tenants. That’s why it’s important for good landlords to make sure they fix problems quickly. Make sure you have a list of reliable tradespeople who can sort issues on short notice, and if there’s going to be a wait on getting something fixed, always let your tenants know. Having a broken boiler or oven is stressful for anyone, but if your tenants know you can be counted upon to get things sorted speedily they can rest easy – and you won’t be inundated with calls.
By following these tips for being a good landlord, you and your tenants can build a positive relationship that’s beneficial to both parties. And if you’re selling your rental property, or looking to raise capital to buy a rental property elsewhere, we can help you to sell your house quickly for cash. For more house tips and home guides, check out the rest of the Good Move blog.