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.......Article > Self Managing a Buy to Let


 


Article kindly provided by

www.turnkeylandlords.co.uk


Buy to let property continues to be an extremely popular investment in the UK. As shown by a recent Paragon Mortgages survey, the vast majority of buy to let landlords are reporting a stable return on their investment, and many feel that tenant demand is increasing. Though the shortage of housing is affecting the availability of both buy to let and residential mortgages, the funds accessible to savvy investors and looser lending criteria for buy to let loans means that prospective or existing landlords are among the few groups who can afford a mortgage in the current climate.

As a result, many more might be thinking of investing in rental property. For those who do, deciding to self-manage the property is a big step, but one which can prove very rewarding. Here I will explore the intricacies involved in being a ‘DIY landlord’.

Before the let
A number of statutory obligations need to be fulfilled, ideally prior to putting a rental property on the market:

  • An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) must be provided to tenants upon request. The National EPC Company charges £59 plus VAT to evaluate the property and produce a certificate.
  • All properties must have a valid and up-to-date Gas Safety Certificate. It is a legal requirement for landlords to ensure that all gas appliances and fittings are safe. The safety check must be conducted by a Gas Safe certified engineer.
  • Landlords are required to insure the building and the contents therein which belong to them. ‘Landlord contents’ include floorings, fixtures, curtains, white goods and any furniture provided with the property. Tenants are responsible for insuring their own belongings.
  • The property’s structure and exterior must be in a good state of repair. Inside the property all appliances must be safe and in working order, and water and power must be supplied.
  • Any furniture provided must comply with current fire safety regulations.

Marketing and finding a tenant
It is possible to employ a letting agent on a 'let only' basis or to utilise a specialist Find a Tenant service. The former deals with marketing the property and the preliminary stages of the rental agreement (conducting viewings, drawing up the contract, taking any initial deposit and handing the property over, for example), whereas the latter deals solely with advertising the property. Depending on your strategy, doing your own marketing can be cheaper than either option.

A more expensive marketing strategy – one employing agency listings, ‘to let’ boards and local press advertisements, for instance – might help to find a tenant more quickly, but many websites allow you to advertise your property for free. The channels employed should depend on the type of tenant you are trying to attract and the area in which the property is located.

Landlords should respond to viewing enquiries as quickly as possible, and should make themselves available to conduct viewings around the typical schedule of the tenant demographic they are trying to attract (a landlord who wishes to let their property to one or more professionals, for instance, will likely find themselves conducting viewings during evenings and on weekends). Transport can present a significant cost here if the DIY landlord does not live close to the rental property; additionally, viewings are very time-consuming and landlords who factor their own time into their expenditure (and why not? – you are self-employed, after all) might find this aspect rather costly.

Tenant vetting is a complex procedure. An agency hired to undertake tenant checking might include any or all of the following in the process:

  • an electoral register check;
  • references from previous landlords;
  • references from employers;
  • a credit check; or
  • a criminal record check

A DIY landlord is under no obligation to conduct tenant checks, but exercising control over whom you let your property to is advisable. It is perfectly acceptable to recoup any expenses incurred during vetting from the tenant, and indeed most tenants will expect this, but they are likely to be put off by a landlord who is clearly trying to make easy money from them before their tenancy even begins. The precise cost of the checks made – and, if appropriate, a small fee for your time – is an adequate amount to ask for.

The tenancy agreement
The tenancy agreement is a legally binding document which stipulates the rights and responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord with respect to the individual tenancy and to existing legislation in general.
All repairing and upkeep responsibilities need to be accounted for, and all outgoings not included in the rent need to be listed as the tenants’ responsibility to pay if you do not wish to incur these expenses yourself.

Solicitors can draw up the most comprehensive Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreements, but their time and expertise will not be cheap. They also often retain non-transferable copyright ownership; investors with larger portfolios often like to keep a ‘master’ AST which they alter for each individual tenancy, and this option would not generally be available to a landlord who has employed a solicitor. A number of web resources and stationary shops have free-to-use or inexpensive AST agreement templates.

The deposit
A deposit provides good collateral against defaults on the rent or bills, or damage to the property, and many landlords like to request one as security. Deposits are commonly equivalent to a month’s rent, and the tenancy agreement should specify the exact conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be appropriated. Remember that if you do choose to take a deposit you are legally required to hold it using an approved deposit protection scheme, and the following information thereon should be provided to the tenants within 30 days of the beginning of the tenancy:

  • your name and contact details;
  • the address of the property;
  • the amount of the deposit;
  • a signed copy of the scheme certificate;
  • details of the scheme and its purpose; and
  • information about how to reclaim the deposit and what to do if there is a dispute

Before the tenancy commences
Prior to the property handover, a number of final checks and tasks need to be performed. Firstly, ensure that the property and, if applicable, the garden are both clean and tidy; the tenant will be expected to leave the property in the same state when they vacate. You should also leave copies of instructions and operating manuals for all household appliances provided with the property and a set of keys for each tenant.

Additionally, ensure that you have a full and itemised (and preferably photographic) inventory of the property and contents, which notes any minor marks, blemishes or damages which you intend to leave as they are.

On-going management
Landlords’ legal obligations also extend to the continued management of the rental property:

  • The property’s interior and exterior must be kept in good repair. A list of, and relationship with, local accredited tradesmen is invaluable to DIY landlords.
  • Your Gas Safety Certificate must be up-to-date. Gas safety checks are required annually.
  • There is no similar obligation to have an Electrical Safety Certificate, but you have a ‘duty of care’ to ensure that all electrical appliances are safe and in good repair.
  • An Energy Performance Certificate must be produced every ten years.

It is vital to keep abreast of changes in rental legislature. Membership of a Landlord’s Association or a Landlord Accreditation Scheme can help you maintain the required knowledge and skills that you need to be a good and successful landlord.

Please see TurnKey Landlords for a free buy to let mortgage quote.

 

TurnKey Mortgages is one of the UK's leading mortgage brokers. It is part of CT Capital Group, which has been providing financial solutions to UK individuals since 1988. We have 12 years in the mortgages business, and advised 3,927 mortgage customers last year.

TurnKey Landlords is a specialist Buy to Let mortgage website set up by TurnKey Mortgages and run by landlords. We are not tied to any lender and have access to all types of products covering every residential property type. We can therefore offer you expert advice based on our wealth of knowledge and experience in the Buy to Let market.

 

 

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