Paperwork is your best friend

The problem with paperwork is that we never really look at it until it’s needed, and then it’s too late… If you have to go to court to gain possession of a property, you will need to make sure that you have everything in place before you start proceedings, and if you haven’t, you have a problem, so start as you mean to go on, ensure you know all the paperwork you need and have a routine or checklist to make sure you have it all, right from the start.

Your letting file, should include, the tenancy agreement, the prescribed information, the inventory, gas certificate, any other safety check reports, deposit registration certificate, and from October first, proof of the tenant receiving a gas certificate, EPC, proof of smoke alarms being tested on the first day of the tenancy and that the DCLGs “how to tenant guide” has been given to the tenant too.

Shopping around for quotes can cost you money

In the midst of winter, you receive a call from your tenant that the boiler has broke and your first reaction is to get a few quotes….  this is the main reason tenants move out, due to slow reaction to maintenance, consider how much the cost of a void period, and re-letting fees will be in comparison to how much you might save by shopping around for boiler repairs, you will be surprised.

There is more than one type of tenancy agreement

Most landlords we ask, assume there is only one type of tenancy, the Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement, in fact there are many types, but in main two you should have templates for, the Assured Shorthold Tenancy is the most common for individual tenants and a Non Housing Act tenancy for company lets or for tenancies that do not fit the criteria to be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, such as renting a room in your house or to someone that is not renting a property as their main or principle home.

Ignorance can cost you dearly

With a buy to let property, you are classed as acting in the course of business, and therefore you are expected to carry out many functions and to know the law, ignorance will not be a defence in court, so you really need to know what your responsibilities are, or else it can cost you dearly. For example, if you are trading in the midlands (and soon to be rolled out across England) you have to check that your tenants have a right to rent in the UK, or else you can be fined heavily for each illegal immigrant found residing in your home, just one of the much legislation you need to be aware of.

Enlisting a managing agent to oversee the property can help you to overcome all of these hurdles, select the agent carefully, always use a professional agent (such as an ARLA Licensed agent) to ensure client money protection thereby securing both your money – and that of your tenants’ – and access to a redress scheme should it be required

Sally Lawson Landlord & Letting Agent – Vice President of ARLA

Sally has written a book on everything that a landlord should know before buying a house to rent