Most landlords nowadays aren’t property magnates: they’re landlords ‘on the side’, and have another job they need to keep on top of. Between work, fun and family, there’s not much time going spare – so the last thing you want to waste your free time on is an inbox full of landlord problems!
Especially if you’re paying for the services of a lettings agent, your property should be fully optimised, from top to bottom, and delivering the most bang for your buck. So we’ve researched the 5 top areas where ‘part-time’ landlords are wasting time or money – just to check you’re making the most of your assets.
5 mistakes landlords are making
1. Settling on your choice of tenants
They might seem great on paper, but the credit check comes back looking a bit dodgy, or they can’t provide a guarantor. A few months down the line you might find they’re not taking good care of the property, or even subletting. Trust us – it pays to spend a little more time and effort finding the right people in the first place and do a comprehensive background check – this could save you weeks of legal nightmares and missed rent payments later on in the tenancy.
2. Lengthy communications with tenants
How many hours have you wasted just waiting for a response or some paperwork from your tenants? If you can’t get them to answer the phone, or they won’t reply to emails quickly, there could be a simple solution that saves you heaps of time.
Instead of getting frustrated at the radio silence, try staying in touch on different channels that work for your tenants. If they use Whatsapp, set up a group chat with them (this also allows you to see when they’ve received your message!). Try sending a text if they don’t pick up when you call – plenty of people (especially younger generations) just don’t like speaking on the phone. If they prefer email, try to subtly set deadlines each time you email them – then if they don’t reply, you’re more able to move forwards in whatever process you’re managing.
Simply put, communicating clearly and in channels that work for everyone can save you a ton of hassle, and you could end up with a much better relationship with your tenants overall – it’s a win-win.
3. Shoddy or last-minute repairs
It’s a common phrase for a reason: when you buy cheap, you really do end up buying twice, and deal with twice as much admin. This is called an ‘opportunity cost’. Being a great landlord means truly investing in your property – and investments are a long-term deal. So make sure you’re budgeting enough to deal with repairs properly when they inevitably come up.
Don’t just paint over the mould once a year, don’t buy the cheapest Argos furniture and expect it to last for decades, and always check the reviews on your handyman! You’ll spend less money and time in the long run, and your tenants will be more likely to take good care of a property that’s clearly been invested in.
4. Becoming a legal expert
As a landlord you need to be up to date on changes to legislation that affect you and your tenants. Take the new tenant fees ban – you could end up being prosecuted or fined if you charge tenants for things that would have been totally legitimate just a few months ago!
If property law really gets you excited, you could always keep on top of this yourself, by subscribing to a couple of newsletters like Landlord Today (and actually reading them!).
But for the rest of us, it’s crucial to know that your agent is 100% on top of the latest developments in property law, and keeping you informed of all updates. This saves you a lot of time spent googling, reading and worrying – but the question is, can you trust your agent to keep you in the loop?
5. Waiting for late rent
First of all, if your tenants are late paying rent, there’s the potential time-suck of emailing them and chasing payments. Then, if it continues to be a problem, there’s the potential to claim missed payments back on rent guarantee insurance. Yippee – not only are you out of pocket, you’re also saddled with a ton of paperwork and legal hassle.
There is a solution for missed rent payments (other than finding the right tenants in the first place – see number 1). Especially if you’re letting in an area with a high tenant turnover, or dealing with less financially stable renters like students, you could benefit from a guaranteed rent policy that offers upfront missed rent payments.
Ideally letting your property should be a more ‘passive’ source of income for you. So if it feels like your property or renters are taking up too much of your time, it’s worth looking into ways of optimising your process.
Hopefully the above will give you some ideas for optimising your property yourself. But if you consider the time and effort you could sink into self-managing your property, you might not be breaking even. After all, isn’t this all meant to give you more time to spend on yourself?
It could be even more efficient to let an expert take care of it for you, and you don’t have to pay a premium for the service either. In fact it could be cheaper than your current set-up! With newer online agents like Howsy, the above services and more can be covered for as little as £35/month.