Beyond compliance - how to be a model landlord - Total Landlord Insurance

October 31, 2019
Beyond compliance - how to be a model landlord - Total Landlord Insurance

With a raft of new laws coming into force and pressure from multiple changes in the private rental sector, landlords in Britain can be forgiven for feeling assailed from all angles in recent times. As some consider selling up due to additional costs, those who choose to stay in the sector are being urged to keep themselves informed or risk being fined. In the midst of the ever-evolving legal landscape of the private rental sector today, going that extra mile to be a ‘model’ landlord may seem like more hassle than it is worth. But, by going beyond compliance and taking proactive steps to find good tenants and keep them, you are likely to save yourself both time and money in the long run. Read on to find out how.

1.) Make sure you are compliant with the law

The first step to being a model landlord is of course to ensure that you are fully up to speed with the law.

By law you must protect your tenant’s deposit with a government authorised scheme such as mydeposits within 30 calendar days and provide your tenants with the prescribed information within the same timeframe. Find out more about the law here.

2.) Make the tenancy agreement fair and reasonable

A robust and comprehensive tenancy agreement outlines the tenant’s responsibilities and is vital for ensuring that tenants are aware of the terms of the tenancy. Whilst tenancy agreements should be thorough they must also be fair and reasonable. Make sure your tenant reads and signs each page of the tenancy agreement to be sure that they understand their obligations and minimise the risk of any nasty surprises further down the line.

3.) Always carry out checks on your tenants

Tenant checks are the best way to make sure that your tenants are who they say they are, and be trusted with your property and have the means to be able to pay their rent every month.

Check the following:

  • Passport or driving licence
  • Current and previous addresses
  • Last three months’ bank statements
  • National insurance number
  • Right to Rent eligibility
  • References from previous employers and landlords
  • Credit reference checks

Don’t forget that if your tenant is using a guarantor, you must also reference them in the same way as they will be paying any outstanding rent if your tenant cannot do so. It may seem time-consuming but could make the difference between having the rent paid or not.

4.) Take steps to attract and retain good tenants

As a landlord, a good tenant is someone who pays their rent on time and keeps the property in good condition. Once you’ve found a great tenant, retaining them is key to keeping your rental income steady and avoiding the letting agent fees and other costs of constantly changing tenants or leaving properties unoccupied. Our guide to attracting and retaining your ideal tenant provides useful advice such as targeting your advertising, being prepared for viewings and offering an incentive to good tenants to renew their tenancy.

5.) Keep the property in good working order

Keeping the property in good working order is much easier if you carry out regular maintenance and respond to any issues raised by the tenant in a prompt manner. Our guide to seasonal property maintenance, ‘Property maintenance tips for all seasons,’ contains a comprehensive checklist designed to help landlords carry out key maintenance checks all year round. Burst pipes, blocked drains and boilers on the blink can all result in significant inconvenience to tenants and expensive repair bills, but a little time and effort spent on prevention each season can save time, and money while promoting a good relationship with your tenant in the long run. You can download our guide here.

6.) Carry out an inventory report

Ensuring that you carry out a thorough inventory report helps to avoid deposit disputes occurring at the end of the tenancy and helps to ensure that a rented property is left in the same condition in which it was originally let.

The inventory management report is a very detailed document which contains a full list of the contents and fixtures in a property. It specifies the condition of every item included and should ideally be supported by photographic evidence.

A check-in report can be part of the inventory document or a separate document. It shows the cleanliness of the property on the move in day, notes any issues raised by the tenant, highlights any outstanding repairs, provides meter readings and registers key.

7.) Carry out property inspections regularly and inform your tenants that you are coming

Property inspections give you the chance to review the condition of your property and address any issues that you notice, or that have been raised by the tenant. Failure to notice or respond to issues early could lead to bigger problems within the property that may cost you more at a later stage.

We recommend carrying out property inspections within a month of the tenant moving in and every six months thereafter. At the start of the tenancy make sure the tenant has been advised in writing that you will be organising regular visits so that they know to expect these. Before arranging an inspection, check the minimum notice that you need to give to access the property and advise the tenant in writing (such as by email), that you would like to arrange a visit. Agree a day and time when the tenant can be there, ideally when it is light so that you can easily inspect both the interior and exterior of the building. Please note, you have to have the tenants’ consent to attend an appointment. If the tenant fails to respond, you cannot just attend and let yourself in as this could pass as harassment.

8.) Consider using a letting agent

You may want to think about using a letting agent to manage your property for you. If you are letting for the first time or living far away from the rental property, your letting agent will be able to offer support and advice. Letting agents generally offer a full management or let only service to enable you to decide which is best suited to your current requirements.

Tenancy deposit specialists mydeposits provide advice on how your legal requirements change if you decide to use an agent in their expert guide.

9.) Make sure you have adequate landlord insurance

While landlord insurance may look very similar to normal home insurance, it specifically covers rental properties; normal home insurance will not provide adequate cover for a rental property.

Make sure you check carefully to ensure that your insurance policy includes everything you need. You may also want to consider additional insurance cover such as rent guarantee and home emergency cover to protect you and your tenants fully.

For more information and advice regarding landlord insurance, check out Total Landlord Insurance’s Premier policy here. Our comprehensive policy includes as standard benefits such as malicious damage by tenants and 90 days’ full cover between tenancies.

10.) Keep communicating with your tenants

Regular communication with your tenants is key to rectifying any issues before they escalate. A good tenant is worth their weight in gold and being a model landlord is the best way to secure a good tenant.

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