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How to Manage your Own Property [Part 2]

October 6, 2009

In the previous post we dealt with the advertising of the property – now let’s look at the paperwork and moving your tenants in!

  1. Get it let: When you are showing people around your property it is critical to make them feel comfortable and as though they want to live there. Make sure the property is clean and smells fresh and that you are clean and fresh…and smile! People like to do business with people they like. That means you have to also be as warm and inviting as the property you are showing. It is useful to already know answers to common questions such as council tax bills and local facilities. Ask questions from the potential tenants, try and understand more about them and how this property would suit their lifestyle and tell them!
  2. Tenant checks: Knowing who you are letting to is critical – you need to know about their background and if there are any skeletons in the cupboard which may show up in the future. Putting together a simple application form which requests their bank details, employment details, current landlord etc will give you enough information to carry out a credit check and to check with their current landlord how they have treated the property and their rent schedule. You can get credit checks done at and we can walk you through the whole process and advise you of any additional paperwork you should see.
  3. Move in day: Getting the paperwork and property prepared before will save you a lot of heartache later. It is critical that you get a full visual and written inventory and get the tenant to sign this [this will protect the deposit if there are any disputes when they move out]. You need to ensure you have a legal Assured Shorthold Tenancy contract signed and copies for both you and the tenant. [These can be downloaded off good landlord sites or if you prefer your solicitor can draw one up for you]. Ensure you take meter readings [and photograph this so you have a record on file]. Inform utility suppliers and the council of your new tenants move in date to ensure you will not be paying their bills!  Once you have taken their rent and deposit make sure you lodge the deposit in an appropriate scheme [the DPS is simple and free to use and you can do it all online].
  4. Collecting rent: The easiest way to ensure regular payments is through getting the tenant to set up a standing order or direct debit straight to you. You should write this up into a clear document which sets out when the rent is due, how much and where it should be paid. You should also make it clear the steps which will happen if rent is not paid – i.e. interest charged, issuance of notices to reclaim the house. At the start everything is rosy – but you must make sure tenants understand their responsibilities and what will happen if the rent is not paid.
  5. Day-to-day maintenance: When you let a property it is important for the tenants to understand that they live in the property as a tenant and as such they take on responsibility for day-to-day minor maintenance. This means that they are also expected to do small jobs such as changing light bulbs, tightening  screws etc. Your responsibility as a landlord is more for the general structure of the building and the major items. If you live a considerable distance away, or your property is older it may be worth considering some of the landlord emergency services which are on the market. For a small monthly amount you have an emergency number which you can give to your tenants should they have any problems with the heating, plumbing or electrics. These schemes can give extra peace of mind.
  6. Final Tips: People want to be treated as people. Think about how you live in your own house and how you like to be treated…and then treat your tenants the same.  Buy to Let is a business, but at its core are people. Be prepared for problems to happen and be pro-active. Do inspections, talk to your tenants, find out what’s happening – ask about their jobs, family, property maintenance issues – that way you can react fast when problems crop up. Life is not a smooth journey – be ready for the bumps and enjoy the ride!
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