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Top tips for landlords

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The National Landlords Association (NLA) has highlighted some important issues for landlords to consider if they want to survive the credit crunch.

The trade body for UK landlords pointed out that the credit crunch has actually resulted in increased tenant demand and higher rents in many areas. However, it is still important for landlords to keep a close eye on their finances in such troubled times. In line with this view, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has issued ten top tips for landlords.

Firstly, the association advised landlords to “thoroughly research the rental market in your area to make sure you are charging the right level of rent and not pricing yourself out of the market”.

It also said those buy-to-let borrowers having difficulty keeping up with mortgage repayments should speak to their lender and try to arrange a new repayment plan. If you are coming to the end of a deal, the NLA advised searching the market for a mortgage which best suits your needs.

Marketing your property is important to ensure you do not experience rental voids (periods when the property is unoccupied). David Salusbury, chairman of the NLA, said: “Marketing your property before the current tenants leave increases your chances of keeping the property fully tenanted. A sure fire way of having no gaps is trying to keep good tenants for as long as possible.”

In line with this, he added that courtesy, reliability and availability will make for a happier tenancy all round. “Communication is critical,” Salusbury said. Landlords should also carry out proper checks on prospective tenants, including credit checks, bankruptcy searches and previous residency information.

Complying with the long list of rules and regulations for landlords is imperative to ensure your tenants are happy and you do not risk your reputation and your bank balance, according to Salusbury. This includes placing tenants’ deposits in a Government-approved protection scheme. Drawing up an inventory at the beginning of the tenancy will reduce the likelihood of any disputes once the tenant moves out.

Taking out insurance may also be a good idea. Your lender will require buildings insurance, but the NLA also highlights the need for cover against injury to tenants and their guests, and insurance for void periods. The association also suggests starting a rainy day fund to cover any emergency expenditure on repairs or maintenance.

Finally, the NLA suggested joining a landlord association to benefit from the advice and experiences of other landlords.

Salusbury concluded: “Rumours of massive increases in rent are probably being overplayed but there is certainly a hike in demand for decent and well-placed rental properties. This should be music to the ears of the portfolio landlord, but don’t get caught out.

“Proper advice for landlords is critical. By following the NLA’s top tips, landlords could increase their chances of getting the most from their properties at a time when the wider economic outlook is not looking so good.”

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