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General Guidance

Most people consider the idea of becoming a landlord but are unsure as to where to start. We have compiled some tips for prospective landlords, based around the assumption that you have no previous knowledge of letting. We hope this information is useful and that you decide to enter the world of being a landlord!

First things, first; what kind of property do you want to purchase?

Think about the type of tenant you would like.

• A family? Look for three bedroom houses near good schools and close to amenities.
• A young professional? One /two bedrooms in the Town centre, ideally furnished.
• Professional couple? Two bedrooms in the town centre / suburbs.
• Older professional/ retired couple/family? Two/ three bedrooms in a village.
• Executives? Four/five bedroom large houses, detached, garages, plenty of parking and garden in suburbs/ villages.

If you are looking at investing in an older/Victorian property, make sure it has:

• UPVC double glazing
• Gas central heating throughout, avoid storage heaters where possible
• Modern kitchen
• Nice bathroom suite with shower over the bath as a minimum.

Is a property a worthy investment?
Rent PCM x 12 = Annual income. Annual income ÷ sale price x 100 = Annual yield %. Over 5% is best.

Look for properties in popular areas. Letting agents who have been in the business for many years will be aware of the current market and will be able to advise on popular areas. Call a few and use their advice even if you don’t use their services.

Landlord responsibilities

A landlord has various responsbilities, such as:

• Make sure the property is compliant with legislation.
• An EPC certificate is valid for ten years but is compulsory to even market a property.
• Gas test.
• PAT Test – if you are leaving appliances that are more than three years old they will need a PAT test conducting, annually.
• Responsible for repairs.
• Notifying Mortgage Company and Freeholder of let.
• Buildings and contents insurance.

Recommendations

• Make sure the property has a modern kitchen and a bathroom (with shower)
•  EICR check (electrical wiring), agents require this to be done or a disclaimer to be signed.
• Supply appliances: Washing machine/dryer, fridge/freezer.
• UPVC double glazing is a good benefit.
• Avoid storage heaters where possible, majority of tenants like gas central heating – although this isn’t always possible with new flats.

To Furnish or let it as Unfurnished? That is the question…

Some landlords ask us if they should furnish their properties, the answer isn’t always a definitive yes or no. You do not always get a higher rent because the property is furnished, it may just enable the property to stand out against others that are similar.

Usually the most ideal properties to furnish are the one/two bedroom apartment in the town centre. Generally, larger homes are more ideal as unfurnished, those that are looking to rent out those houses are usually families and they tend to accumulate their own furniture.

To cover your bases you always have the option of offering to furnish the property should the right applicant come along.
Should you choose to furnish the property here is an example of a typical two bedroom, furnished property:

Bedrooms:

• Bed plus a mattress
• Chest of drawers
• Wardrobe
• Curtains/blinds

Lounge:

• Sofa (possibly two sofa’s depending on the size)
• TV stand/cabinet
• Curtains/blinds
• Dining table (if a particularly good sized lounge)

Kitchen:

• All white goods
• Curtains/blinds

General advice on furniture:

• Colouring of furniture to be neutral in colouring
• Avoid floral patterns
• Modern
• Durable
• All furnishings need to comply with Fire and Safety Regulations

Tips on owning an appealing property for let

• Remember first impressions count! Keep the front garden tidy, clean the front door and tuck the bins away. Sometimes, a little injection of colour like a hanging basket makes a property stand out.
• Conduct any DIY that is required. e.g. repair that broken cupboard door.
• Remove personal effects and memorabilia. Tenants like to be able to see themselves and their belongings in a property.
• Clean all surfaces, carpets, walls with marks on, all woodwork and grouting.
• Neutral décor throughout will make the property seem bigger and less intimidating.
• Have neutral flooring in good condition e.g. no worn carpets/deep scratches in wood.
• Have an attractive kitchen and bathroom suite. Update by changing the handles to something modern and replacing work tops will give it a new lease of life.
• Leave modern white goods which are user-friendly. Try and keep the manuals.
• Buy an air freshener and have a fresh smelling property.
• Have a breakdown of household costs e.g. heating, electricity, water and council tax as most tenants are cost conscious.

What are the tax implications of being a landlord?

We understand that letting out a property can seem expensive; we have detailed a brief overview of the allowable tax deductions provided by the HMRC which helps letting out a property more feasible for landlords.

Tax is deducted from the net income received from the rent. Certain expenditure can be offset against tax. When calculating the ‘profit’ you make from your property rental business, you are allowed to deduct expenses where they have been incurred wholly and exclusively for the rental business. You can’t claim ‘capital’ expenditure such as the cost of improvements and alterations or the cost of land and buildings.

Allowable deductions

• Letting agency fees
• Reasonable management costs
• Rental, buildings and contents insurance premiums
• Ground rent
• Accountancy fees for preparing your business tax return
• Any maintenance of the property(but not improvements)
• Services such as cleaning or gardening
• Provision of services (gas, electricity, hot water)

Allowable expenses for property maintenance and repairs will generally include:

• Mending broken windows and doors
• Damp and rot treatment
• Repairing broken cookers, furniture, guttering
• Painting and decorating
• Replacing or fixing the roof

Why do I need a letting agent?

A letting agent should be a fountain of knowledge and expertise on the rental market, lettings and property maintenance.
A good letting agent will:

• have a good marketing strategy
• be a source of regular property leads
• be aware of the market rental you can achieve
• know the type of tenants you will attract
• understand and adhere to the current legislation
• Have the knowledge and experience of what is needed to keep your property in a liveable standard for current and future tenants.

It is also worth noting that although the lettings industry is not regulated, there is a professional body, ARLA, who have members who volunteer to be regulated. In our opinion, this also contributes to what makes a good letting agent. For more information on this, please refer to our affiliations page.

A letting agent’s service

Most landlords choose to use a letting agent for one of the two services they offer; Fully Managed Service or a Tenant Find Only Service.
What does a Fully Managed service generally include?

• Marketing of the property
• Accompanied viewings
• Finding a tenant
• Referencing the tenant
• Inventory of the property condition
• Organise EPC
• Organise Gas certificate
• Organise Electrical inspection
• Prepare a tenancy agreement
• Register with the deposit with the TDS
• Notify utility companies
• Receive rent
• Serving of notices
• Renewal of agreements
• Check out inspections
• Property visits
• Deal with maintenance issues

What does a tenant find only service include?

• Marketing of the property
• Accompanied viewings

Here are our top ten tips on deciding a letting agent for your property…

• The key to letting any property is marketing, and not just on property portals as it is not the only place that tenant’s look. Have they got facebook, twitter or a downloadable app for a smartphone? We are a busy nation and it is all about getting information quicker and easier.
•  Look at their website. Remember tenants will use this to look at their properties. Is it fresh and inviting? Is it easy to navigate around it? Has it got key information for tenants and landlords?
• The number of To Let/ Let By boards in the area will show whether they have experience in letting properties in the area.
• Does the letting agent have a good reputation? Ask friends and families who their letting agent is and whether they would recommend them.
• Look at how long they have been in the business. It is a good indication if they have been through a recession; it proves that they have faced some difficult times but are still standing.
• Are they regulated? In the lettings industry if you are regulated, you have volunteered to do so. However the strict guidelines that are followed ensure a high standard of practice. The regulatory bodies are ARLA and NAEA. A registered SAFE agent also demonstrates they belong to a regulatory body.
• Ring their office. Is the phone answered in a friendly and helpful manner? Do they sound professional?
• Go in to their offices. How quickly are you acknowledged and helped? Does it have a professional setting? Do they have good window displays?
• A good letting agent will have a brochure of information to give to you when you enquire about their letting and property management service. Does it look professional? Is it informative? Does it cover everything you want to know about renting out your property
• Lastly, invite them out for a valuation. How does the Valuations Negotiator conduct them selves? Do they appear professional? Do they seem knowledgeable? Do they know what other properties in the area have been let for? Do they explain how they justify the expected rental price? A property valuation generally takes an hour.

We hope this information has been useful.

Please call us now for more professional letting advice.

Contact us

4/5 George Row,
Northampton,
Northamptonshire,
NN1 1DF
Telephone: 01604 603433

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15 Market Square,
Daventry,
Northamptonshire,
NN11 4BH
Telephone: 01327 879431

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Registered Name: Chelton Brown Ltd | Place of Registration: Northampton
Registered Number: 5521012 | Registered Office: 4-5 George Row, Northampton, Northamptonshire, NN1 1DF