Avoid these simple landlord mistakes
Tell someone you are a landlord and they immediately assume you are a multi-zillionaire that sleeps on a mattress of bank notes. You will know that this could not be further from reality.
In recent years landlords have been hit, and not just hit, hit hard. Changes to mortgage interest tax relief, an almost continuous stream of regulation and legislation has meant margins have been squeezed tighter, obligations increased and rights reduced.
Indeed the courts are littered with cases where a small error by a landlord during the tenancy has left them unable to recover possession even in the case of extreme arrears.
This article looks at some of the common mistakes landlords make and how to avoid them
Interest rates are only heading one way and this is often the biggest expenditure for landlords. Lenders will offer a variety of fixed rate deals from two to ten years. Reviewing your position now will ensure you have the best deal available and help you plan ahead.
Like all property, it is important to regularly maintain the structure and the cost of this is sometimes overlooked. It is sensible to put a percentage of the rental income to one side to build a pot for maintenance. That way, when a large bill comes in, you have the funds to pay it.
If you are using a contractor you should ensure that they hold Professional Indemnity insurance and that their level of cover matches that required by your insurance company. If you don’t, you might find any future claims you make are not covered.
It is important to carry out regular visits to the property. This could be anything from every three to six months. Your insurers may require you to inspect at least once every six months as part of your policy conditions. The purpose of the visit is not to check how the tenant is living, but to ensure that no significant maintenance has gone unreported. A blocked gutter or slow leak can cause major damage if left for a long period of time.
Don’t forget that rent is classed as unearned income and will count towards your annual earnings. If you are also working, this can push you into the higher rate tax banding, leaving you with a hefty bill each year. Some of your costs can be offset including maintenance and items you might need to run your business. Larger works such as repairing a roof may be offset against any future capital gain. It is worth investing in an accountant to prepare your self-assessments as they can advise on allowable expenses and help you plan ahead if you intend to sell in the near future.
It is critical that if you are receiving the tenants deposit that you deal with it correctly. Not registering it with a deposit scheme, or issuing the correct paperwork at the time, can lead to Section 21 notices being held invalid as well as penalties of up to 3 x the deposit.
The law requires you to carry out annual gas safety checks and five yearly electrical tests. There are further requirements if you are operating a House in Multiple Occupation. Make sure you diarise when your safety checks are due and ensure they are carried out.
Choosing the right tenant
Putting a tenant into your property is straightforward, getting them out is much more difficult, time consuming and expensive. It is crucial that you choose the right tenant and carry out thorough referencing and checks on them before you offer them a tenancy. This will include financial checks, immigration status and previous landlords checks.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. As experienced property management experts we can help you navigate your way through potential pitfalls. If you are in need of any help, please contact Stuart Nash on 01749 672 678 or send him an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note the date this article was published as the law may have changed since it was posted. You should always seek independent legal advice if you are intending to rely on any of the contents.
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