Richard Blanco, the NLA’s Regional Representative for London, offers his advice
Know your market
Do you rent to young professionals, families or people receiving benefits? Or is your preference for Houses in Multiple Occupation? Whichever it is, be clear about your market and tailor your properties accordingly. Knowing what your target market needs and wants will help you establish clear criteria when purchasing property.
Buy at the right price
Your gross rental yield and capital growth will all be based on the price you pay for the property so make sure you buy at the best price possible.
Know when it is best to spend good money (quality mattresses, for example) and to save money (competitive insurance or mortgage products, for example). And if you are a member of a landlord organisation such as the NLA, take advantage of the discounts or cash back offers available on essential landlord services. For details, visit www.landlords.org.uk/services.
Set targets for your business
Many of us start as accidental landlords but if you become more involved, make sure you run your lettings like a business by devising systems, developing a strategy and writing a business plan with long term goals and an exit strategy – just in case.
Know your values
Providing homes for people is a big responsibility, so you’d be wise to develop policies on potentially troublesome issues such as rent arrears and other tenancy management issues. This will allow you to respond professionally to every challenge that arises.
Provide excellent customer service
Your relationship with your tenants starts with the viewing. If the viewing is a success, hold and induction meeting to begin the relationship positively. This is your opportunity to provide the tenant with a tenant hand book containing the contract, information about deposit protection, details of your recognised suppliers, emergency contact numbers and a list of dos and don’ts. You should also take and agree an inventory during the meeting.
When it comes to repairs, aim to fix problems swiftly and completely and try not to penny pinch as this will only prolong the problem. As a landlord it’s important to be realistic about wear and tear – people just don’t look after things so well when they don’t belong to them. But when a tenant requests a repair, they are helping you maintain your property and giving you an opportunity to keep their business. Take the chance to respond promptly, efficiently and courteously.
Prioritise relationships and communication
It’s important to communicate regularly with your partners to ensure good relationships. Having good relations with partners including solicitors and builders can help you get a job done quickly when you need to most.
When it comes to tenant communication, create communication opportunities via periodic inspections of your property and take the chance to talk to your tenants about their future plans and
Know and comply with the law
By becoming a member of an organisation such as the National Landlords Association, landlords benefit from the sharing of knowledge. The National Landlords Association offers a free Telephone Advice Line service to its members as well as an extensive Online Library that details the law and changes to legislation as well as other relevant issues affecting landlords and tenants.
The National Landlords Association also offers a training facility for landlords to become NLA Accredited landlords. Becoming an accredited landlord demonstrates to potential tenants that you understand your obligations and you are committing to professional development – something that will endear potential tenants.
Learn from your peers
Don’t work in isolation; meet and learn from other landlords. Be sure to network with fellow landlords and read industry publications including UK Landlord and Property Investor News to learn from others and observe what is being talked about in the industry.
What are your top tips for a successful property business?