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Agony Agent

3rd June 2017

Each week, we answer a reader’s rental property question, from first-time landlords to experienced owners.  Agony Agent, is here to help!

Q:  I’m about to buy my first investment property, what problems might I encounter?

A:  Letting a property isn’t just about getting someone in and making a profit, there are many things that will influence your experience of being a landlord.  It’s best to make yourself aware of what could go wrong before you make that leap.  I could fill pages upon pages with tips, problems, benefits and legal jargon, however, I think these are the most common issues faced by all landlords:

Finding a Tenant

It pays to think carefully about where you advertise.  Research the internet for homes to rent and decide which sort of website your ideal tenant is likely to read.  An advert in the shop down the road may be cheap, but will it attract the sort of person you want in your property?

You could end up with a tenant who lets you down with the rent payments if you don’t carry out all of the security checks on a tenant before you let them into the property.  Credit checks and a reference from a previous landlord are a must.  If the tenant hasn’t rented before, ask for an employer’s reference instead.  You need to know that your prospective tenant is able to pay the rent.

The Legal Side

There are a lot of things you need to do legally if you take on a tenant, so read up on your obligations before you start.  Make sure that you have the right tenancy agreement – and get it signed before anyone moves in.  An Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement is the standard for residential lettings, and as it’s a legal contract between you and your tenant, you need to get it right.  Remember, you also need to arrange a tenancy deposit scheme, as you’re legally obliged to keep any deposits you receive in an approved scheme.

Time Management

You could be getting calls from tenants in the early hours because they have lost their keys or something has gone wrong in the property.  You are responsible for maintenance and repairs, so it’s worth having a list of trustworthy trades people to hand.

Awkward Tenants

Even carrying out all the right checks isn’t a guarantee that your tenant will be perfect.  If you’re faced with a problem tenant, it’s your duty to follow up any complaints that you receive, so issue a warning at the first sign of trouble.  Make sure that the property is fully insured with suitable contents cover.  Rent arrears are the other obvious problem.  Other than the financial checks at the start of the tenancy, the only way to protect yourself is by taking out an insurance policy.  Some cover the loss of income from a nonpaying tenant right up to the end date.  Depending on the situation, you may have the right to serve them notice of eviction.

If you, or somebody you know, would like further information on letting out a property then please feel free to contact me.

Richard Bond

Lettings Manager

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