Six easy ways to be a good landlord…

1.) A warm welcome Key benefits: v informative and useful v establishes confidence between the two parties v generates a good relationship v creates awareness about the property and what’s expected during the tenancy v helps avoid unnecessary questions later

Giving your tenant a warm welcome and providing key information about the property and the tenancy before it begins is extremely useful for both the tenant and landlord… and some landlords like to provide a handy ‘welcome pack’ too.

“Creating a ‘welcome pack’ helps tenants understand how to work appliances, such as boilers, and helps them to settle into a property quickly,” says proprietor of Belvoir Liverpool West Derby Adam Rastall. “It will also start the relationship off on the right foot and sets the tone of the relationship that will continue throughout the tenancy. “The landlord can produce a folder with copies of instructions for appliances left in the property, plus provide information on when bins are collected, where the stop cock is located and other relevant facts. They should make a duplicate of the file in case it is not returned when a tenant vacates.” Proprietor of Belvoir Southend-on-Sea Wayne Mearns agrees. “A warm welcome creates a positive start to the tenancy and shows that both the landlord and agent want to create a healthy relationship,” he says. “At Belvoir Southend-on-Sea, for instance, we produce a guide to the area (including 24-hr chemists) – and this can be used time and time again.”

2.) Clear communication Key benefits: v creates confidence and respect v helps build good relationships v helps uncover problems with the property or tenancy v potential longer tenancies v promotes openness

Good communication between a tenant and landlord is vital for a successful relationship… and tenancy. “Establishing a good level of communication with your tenant can be beneficial as it will help them feel respected,” says Adam. “They are likely to enjoy living in your property more… and possibly for longer too. “Lack of communication can be a common reason why a tenant decides to leave,” he continues. “It’s really frustrating for a tenant if a landlord doesn’t answer calls or emails – all of which should be responded to within a reasonable amount of time to ensure a good relationship.” Breaking down the communication barrier can also help resolve issues quickly and will help you identify any problems with the property or tenancy. “Good communication, along with sincerity over the tenant’s privacy, builds trust and allows openness between parties,” says Wayne. “It also enables the landlord or agent to act quickly on possible property issues and allows them to give the appropriate notice for any work needed. “A history of good communication is also beneficial if rental payment problems arise – a relationship built on openness and good communication gives you scope to help, resolve and provide advice going forward.”

3.) Repair and refresh Key benefits: v helps maintain the property v can help avoid costly repairs later v a better living environment for the tenant v may help extend the tenancy v encourages the tenant to take pride in the property

“If a property is well maintained then there will be less chance of large maintenance issues arising later,” says Adam. “Landlords should regularly inspect the outside of the building and check the roof, windows and gutters. Regular internal inspections are also advised. “Cosmetic facelifts are also useful,” he continues. “Simply painting the property, for example, will improve the look of the property and help the tenant feel that the landlord cares about the property and their living environment.” Wayne agrees. “On-going maintenance means it’s less likely that a major issue or upheaval will occur. If an item of maintenance goes unaddressed problems can get considerably worse. “Keeping on top of maintenance issues is highly beneficial for landlords as it can help them avoid large bills for major works, plus it also helps create happier tenants who will take pride in the property and will want to look after it.”

4.) Firm but fair Key benefits: v builds trust and respect v promotes honesty from the tenant v allows you to deal with problems swiftly

Firm but fair landlords have good relationships with their tenants… but aren’t afraid to act quickly if a problem occurs. “Items such as the Tenancy Agreement and rent payment dates, for instance, must be clearly defined from day one and tenants should be made aware that there may be a ‘late rent’ interest rate applied to the rent,” says Wayne. “However, in addition to being firm, a landlord should also be fair,” he continues. “It’s important that Tenancy Agreements are not weighted against the tenants. This would not help the tenant/landlord relationship – and in a difficult situation, such as eviction, the courts may not look favourably upon this type of contract.”

5.) Quick response Key benefits: v creates trust and confidence v stops problems escalating v can help minimise contractor costs v peace of mind for both the landlord and tenant

Being able to deal with unexpected issues is vital but, as most problems happen when you least expect them, it is helpful to supply your tenant with contact details for use in an emergency. “A tenant needs to know that they can get in contact with you should they need to but, of course, being available out-of-hours can be tricky,” says Wayne. “If you are not going to be available during the evenings or at the weekends you should ideally consider asking a second-party to receive calls. “This second-party needs to be someone who can consider the budget (for repairs, for example) and make a decision out-of-hours that will minimise your costs. “Responding quickly to problems can help build trust and confidence… and having a healthy relationship such as this can help motivate tenants to look after the property better and possibly stay longer too.”

6.) Expert help Key benefits: v saves time v reassuring support v valuable source of information v practical help v expert advice

Instructing a specialist property management agency, such as Belvoir, to manage the tenancy for you can be highly beneficial for many landlords. “A letting agent can manage a tenancy and do many of the jobs expected of a landlord,” says proprietor of Belvoir Cheadle Darragh Lee. “They can carry out references and background checks, compile photographic and written inventories, perform regular property visits and inspections plus provide reports on these, advise of safety guidelines, collect rent, identify maintenance issues and provide use of their recommended trades-people and contractors. They can also supply the Tenancy Agreement put together by legal professionals and make sure the tenancy is complying to current legislation.” The services of a good property management agent can be a lifeline for landlords with little time – or a simple solution for those who simply want a little extra help…

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