The rental market is buoyant and shows no sign of slowing down. If you’re considering becoming a landlord, you’ll have plenty of questions about this form of business. Here are the top ten questions new landlords frequently ask:
1 – Do I need to tell my mortgage lender?
Yes. Before you can rent out your property you need permission from your mortgage lender, and conditions may be imposed. If you’re purchasing a property with the intention of renting it out, look for a buy-to-let mortgage.
2 – How much rent can I charge?
A letting agent can give you a current rental valuation. Certain factors affect rentals, including supply vs. demand, the quality, area and size of property, and how high the demand is for rented accommodation. While there are market expectations for home rentals, there are no written-in-stone rules.
3 – How long will it take to get a tenant?
From start to finish, you should hopefully have a tenant within three weeks of making the property available. If it’s taking longer, there may be something specific that’s putting people off. It might be as simple as a quick refresh inside and out, maybe you’re asking too high a rent, or maybe you could be more flexible regarding pets? Your rental agent can advise.
4 – How do I prepare the property for let?
Everything needs to be in good repair, and preferably freshly decorated. Once the house or flat is totally ready, you can prepare your inventory of furnishings and other contents. This will be checked off item by item before being signed and dated by the tenant.
5 – Should I let to students?
Providing student lets, particularly in university towns, can be a solid form of rental income. Generally, the risk of damage is no higher than it is with letting to young families. As with all other rentals, you should:
· Make sure furnishings are sturdy and strong.
· Have detailed inventories and perform thorough checks.
· Be prepared to bring in guarantors or parents if lack of cleanliness or damage is excessive.
· Maintain your presence as a landlord without being intrusive or appearing to micromanage.
6 – How do I know if a property would be a good investment?
Research the market before buying to let, and develop an understanding of the running costs involved with being a landlord. You need to be able to cover any void periods (when you don’t have a tenant), and be confident the property will provide a constant income stream.
7 – What if the tenant doesn’t pay or I need to evict?
You should have insurance to guard against both instances. Your letting agent can advise on suitable insurances and what each will cost.
8 – Do I need any checks done on the property?
You need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which will be valid for ten years. From April 2018, properties for rent must have a minimum rating of E on the scale.
You’ll also need a Gas Safety Record (GSR) which guarantees all gas appliance and flues are in good order. This needs updating every year.
You’ll also need to ensure any electrical appliances are safe. An Installation Survey or Portable Appliance Testing will prove you are compliant.
9 – Who maintains the garden and takes care of internal repairs?
Normally the tenant is responsible for the garden, but you may make whatever arrangements are convenient to share the responsibility. Some landlords hire a gardener; others leave it completely to the tenant. The landlord should arrange for internal work done on the property, or your letting agent will take on the responsibility.
10 – How do I assess and pay for damage?
When a tenancy ends, you’ll need to inspect the property to assess damage. Rules laid down by government backed deposit schemes determine what you can charge for. You can’t, for instance, use the tenant’s deposit to replace old or worn items, and you must take into account fair wear and tear. Damaged or missing items are generally covered.
These are very brief answers to some questions that have complex answers. Speaking to an experienced letting agent can remove many concerns and provide more detailed answers.