At the start of a tenancy there will be certain information you should provide to your tenant, like a gas safety record/certificate, EPC, electrical certification, deposit protection documentation, an inventory and if applicable license conditions. Ensure your tenant is given all the essential paperwork, which can best be achieved by issuing a welcome pack, also containing copies of appliance manuals, safety instructions and emergency contact details.
You never know when something might go wrong, but when it does it will need to be resolved, and often quickly. Consider all eventualities and have plans in place. Have a contingency fund and easy access to “checked-out” round the clock contractors who can tackle the more urgent types of repairs, at very short notice. Unlike a problem occurring at your own home, where you might decide it can wait an extra day or two, a rent paying tenant will have their own expectations on turn-around times. “Mr Sparky” might well be the best electrician in the area but that’s of little use if he is otherwise engaged, or on holiday, and your tenant has no electricity.
Arrange to visit your property at regular intervals during the tenancy and always write to your tenant giving plenty of notice of your intended visit. What may suit you may not suit the tenant, who can refuse you access and who may want to be present. Be accommodating whilst making sure you are not fobbed off with repeat visit refusals as this may indicate a problem. There are some very good reasons for visiting your property e.g. it might be a condition of licensing to do so, it allows you to keep an eye on occupancy levels and to check for issues that would be better tackled soonest, such as blocked a gutter or a slipped roof tile – the kind of issues the tenant doesn’t even pick up on.
Good communication with your tenant will play an important role when seeking a hassle-free tenancy. If you employ a managing agent they will take care of this for you. Should a problem arise it can be stressful to tenant and even cause panic, so ensuring your tenant can communicate the problem 24/7 will give them peace of mind, especially in the event of an emergency situation. When going away on holiday, make sure your tenant knows who to contact in your absence.
Along with attracting a good tenant, having your property occupied should be high on the list of priorities. Sometimes the market will change, with the smaller changes being the hardest to quickly identify. Assess market conditions and the level of competition – don’t solely rely on previous experiences. Be prepared to adjust your pricing strategy. £20 extra per month is of little use if it takes 6 weeks to achieve.
Review your rent (at least) annually and stay in touch with the market and where it is heading. Many landlords look to reward, in order to retain, a good tenant by keeping future rent negotiations below market rent. This may encourage the tenant to stay longer and help to build good relations – if you are offering a “reward-related” new tenancy deal then be sure to let your tenant know you have set the rental a little lower than what the market is paying.
Business is business
As a landlord you should treat the letting of your property as a business. Rules and taxes apply so seek adequate advice and stay protected – “I’m sorry your honour, I didn’t know” simply won’t cut it. When it comes to decision making, remain commercially minded and if the property was once your home try not to let personal feelings take over.