Experience as a first time landlord, together with several years working in a letting agency,  has taught me much about the letting industry. Being a first-time landlord was a steep learning curve.

Would I do it again? Possibly, but I would do many things differently, and some not at all! This would have led to a very different outcome.

So, let’s start with:

What to consider when looking to purchase a buy-to-let property:

Purchase

  • Location – probably the most important thing. Try to choose one that’s in a popular area, close to a school, within walking distance of a town and has good travel links.
  • Be realistic – establish your budget, making sure you take into account  legal fees, estate agency fees and potential property repairs. If the property needs upgrading, for example double-glazing, add that into your budget too. Think about what repairs and upgrades actually need to be done.
  • Budget – if you can afford it, consider a family home. A two or three-bedroom property (in Uckfield) will give you considerably more monthly rental income than a flat. Also, if you purchase a flat you (the landlord) will be responsible for paying the ground rent and any other maintenance fees. It all adds up and will eat into your profit.
  • Negotiate – don’t be afraid to negotiate the asking price, especially if the property has been on the market for a while. You might be pleasantly surprised!
  • Survey – if you are worried about potential problems, it’s best to ask for a more detailed survey. Be sure to find a surveyor with good online reviews. We recommend Downlands Architectural Design & Surveying in Framfield. If the survey does highlight problems, investigate further. Don’t wait till after the sale completes…then it’s too late!
  • Solicitor – it makes sense to choose a reputable solicitor too. One that’s local helps, particularly if you come across issues during the process.  Don’t be coerced into choosing one that you don’t know.
  • Check the sums – don’t assume that invoices are correct. Sadly we had to query the solicitor’s invoice three times before they got it right! The same applied to the final completion invoice!

After purchase:

  • If the property needs upgrading, or requires work, think about the quality of what’s required. There is no need to spend a lot of money on a new kitchen and bathroom, if they’re fine as they are. The same applies to decorating and carpets. The important thing is that everything works, is clean and in good condition.
  • Two upgrades that are worthwhile, will make your property more desirable, and will add value when you sell it on, are double glazing and central heating. If you have a gas fire and/or central heating, you will need a Gas Safety Certificate.
  • You also need to purchase landlord and contents insurance for peace of mind.
  • If the property does need work, inside or out, do it before you show any potential tenants around, as this can be off-putting.

Tenant Finding and Management

  • Agency or do-it-yourself? If you use social media, finding a tenant can be relatively easy, however, if you want to ensure a good quality tenant with a faultless credit rating and references, an agency is the way to go. They will either just find a tenant for you or manage the property for you. Fees are according to level of service. I would always recommend using an agent, to find a good tenant for you at least.
  • If you choose to manage your property yourself, ensure that you keep on good terms with your tenants. I would recommend doing a quarterly inspection of the property, so you can keep an eye on things and avoid any potential problems. 
  • Pets – although it’s a difficult choice, it’s better not to accept pets as they can damage your property (new carpets is a common consequence and will cost £100s). 
  • It’s better not to let a friend become a tenant. It could damage your relationship if you have problems down the line.
  • If you’re managing the property yourself, create an inventory, including photos.
  • Issues – if there are any maintenance issues, find out what caused them. For example a blocked drain is usually caused by mis-use and is the tenant’s responsibility to unblock it!

Advantages of allowing a letting agent to let and manage your property:

  • It’s the agent’s responsibility to sort out any problems, including maintenance and repairs. 
  • They will help you prepare your property prior to letting.
  • They will ensure you meet the legal obligations.
  • They can find the most suitable tenant for your property quickly.
  • They will advise on the potential rental income and do any negotiating for you.
  • They will organise an inventory and deal with the deposit for you.
  • They will do tenant referencing and credit checks.

If you are a landlord looking for advice, call Sue on 01825 761890 or email sue@sjemarketing.co.uk. If you need more detailed advice about letting a property contact Duke Letting in Uckfield. 

 

Sue Edwards
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