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Let your property

This is a full money making guide to rent out your property whether it be a house or an apartment. This guide will assume you already have your property ready to let, if you have not please see our guide to Buying a property to let.

If you’re thinking about letting out a property you own it can be a great money maker, not only will you get rent each month you will also most likely make money on the property itself when it rises in value. Many people just make money through rentals and we’ll show you how to rent your own. However renting out your property isn’t all bliss and there can be many complications from costly repairs to bad tenants. Before reading on you may want to read our “Guide to being a Landlord

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With Estate Agents / Letting Agents

If you’ve bought a property purely to let out them I’m sure you’ve already done this step and had it valued by several independent agents. If you have not then don’t skip this step. You’ll need to call at least 3 estate agents to come out and value your property that you intend to rent. While they are out you will also want to find out what their finders fee is.

You can also find out what percentage they charge for managed however we recommend managing it yourself as most agents take 10% of your monthly rent and for what they actually do it isn’t worth it. If you’re not comfortable managing it yourself then make sure you get a good rate. We use estate agents to find us a tenant and draw up the contract as that’s not something you want to do yourself unless you know what you’re doing. For our rental it was £300 + Vat, this varied from around £180 – £500. You will be surprised how much the valuations will vary too. We got rental figures from around £575 to £700 per month.

Don’t just go for the estate agent that gives you the highest valuation as there’s a good chance you won’t get it and they’ll be calling you up a few weeks later asking you to drop the price. Go with the one you think will do the best job. Once you’ve picked go ahead and get it advertised, the quicker you do the quicker you start getting income.

2

Without Estate Agents / Letting Agents

If you’d like to let out your property by yourself without letting agents then it’s still best to get a few out to value your property so you have a better idea on how to price it. These are a few different methods to market your property:

  • A Sign – Depending on where your property is positioned it may be good to put a sign in the window, very simple yet can be very effective.
  • Social Media – There are many Facebook pages that you can join and list your property to rent, this is completely free and one of the best methods.
  • eBay / Gumtree – You can list your property on eBay and Gumtree, Gumtree is free to list which eBay charges are applicable.

Marketing your property yourself for free can be tough. You really need to get listed on Rightmove or other similar websites to get your property seen. Try online estate agents rather than local estate agents that take a percentage. Check out our “Best online estate agents” Guide.

When you find your tenant you need to do the same things a letting agent would do. You can perform several checks on your tenant such as Credit checks. You will also need to get a tenancy agreement contract; you can get one of these from your local post office or via an online source.

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Furnished or Unfurnished?

Next you need to decide whether you’re going to let your flat out as furnished or unfurnished. Your estate agent will give you advice on this too. For our project we decided to go for unfurnished as it was a new build and believe unfurnished is the better option anyway. However we still did the basics such as Mirrors, toilet role holders, towel racks, coat pegs, curtain poles and blinds. It’s best to do these as you don’t want your tenant drilling into your walls as you can’t be sure if it will be a good job or not.

4

Inspection Report

Your letting agent will do this for you but it’s always could to do one yourself. You basically want to make a list of everything about your property and it’s condition along with photographic evidence. You need to do this encase the tenant ends up damaging anything when they leave this way you can receive money from their deposit to repair any issues. Make sure to take lots of photos all over the property including walls, fixtures and fittings, appliances, carpets etc.

This is quite a basic list of the few steps it takes to let out your property. Don’t forget to consider your time when doing all of this, It might seem like a good idea to go without an estate agent but if it takes your twice as long to get it rented you’ll lose money. Once you’ve rented it out make sure you leave everything the tenants will need on the kitchen counter such as information about appliances, contact information etc.

Be sure to keep up date with any safety checks and do not let the tenant fall behind on rent! Good luck!

How to Successfully Rent Out Residential Property

Traditionally the UK property market has been more focused on owner occupiers as opposed to landlords and tenants. Unlike Germany and France, where under 50% of property is owner occupied. Until 2001 over 69% of property was owner occupied, but that trend is changing, and today the number of people renting property is at its highest level since the early 1960s.

This change in renting policy has come about for a number of pertinent reasons. Buying property has become enormously expensive, and as a result, property has slowly been moving out of reach for young first-time buyers who are now being forced to rent. In the 1980’s the average age of the first time buyer was mid-to-late twenties, while today that has risen to mid-thirties. As a consequence, the demand for rental property has increased and for longer rental periods, which is all good news for landlords.

In addition, in the UK residents were driven by political and social motivation to own their own homes. Renting was seen as a ‘waste of money’. Today the social ‘stigma’ of renting has disappeared, instead being replaced by practicality and the understanding that despite the fact mortgage interest rates have remained ridiculously low for a number of years now, this has done little other than help fuel the rise in property prices, taking them further out of reach of current tenants who aspire to be a home owner.

As an example, UK property prices on average rose by nearly 7% in 2015, yet wages only went up by 2%.

With London property prices predicted to rise by some 50% over the next 10 years (according to the Financial Times) it is becoming abundantly clear that the number of tenants will also increase as property becomes more and more unaffordable for the younger generations.

Everything points towards investing in property on what is referred to as a ‘buy-to-let’ basis. By this we mean buying a property with the sole intention if immediately renting it out. This could be purely to provide you with regular income from your investment, or it could be that you have bought the property as a long-term investment which has involved taking on a mortgage and the rental income is already earmarked to cover the mortgage payments. The advantage of buying property as an investment is that you can generate an immediate return through rental income, while also creating a long term increase in the value of your investment through the rise in value of the property.

On paper this would all seem like a simple and straightforward way of investing in such a way as to provide you with financial security in the future. However not every private landlord is as successful as they could, and should be, usually as a result of approaching becoming a landlord in the private housing sector lacking sufficient information and experience. There are many pitfalls you can easily avoid, and better to learn the easy way than the hard way!

As a result, we have compiled a short and comprehensive guide on how to be a successful residential property landlord and how to maximise your chances of investing successfully in the UK buy-to-let property market. From choosing the right property to deciding whether to set up your own property company or not, we intend to give you invaluable advice that will help ensure your property investing is as successful as possible.

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What to buy?

Much of your success as a landlord will depend not just on what you actually do once you have bought a property, but on the property you actually decide to buy itself. To this end, it cannot be stressed strongly enough that you need to do a great deal of homework before you buy any property and, most important of all, disengage your head from your heart.

When buying investment property, it is all too easy to fall into the same trap we can when buying a home for ourselves. We are so used to looking at kitchens and bathrooms and if they are not to our taste, we tend not to buy that property. When investing in buy-to-let property, personal taste comes bottom of the list of priorities. Instead, it is all about the bottom line, buying a property that will generate the greatest rental income for the minimum outlay.

We have already covered the buying process in our article Buying a Property to Let, so we will simply touch on what was discussed in greater detail.

  • Do your sums and establish early on what you can afford to pay for a property.
  • If you need to borrow money to buy your investment property, do ‘worst case scenario’ calculations for when interest rates may rise
  • Establish if you are going to do the maintenance yourself or employ tradesmen, this may influence buying a brand new property as opposed to a period one
  • Establish if you are going to let the property yourself or employ a letting agent
  • Buy the right property for the location. Establish which areas of town are popular with students, young executives or families, and target property that will appeal to that specific market
  • If you are looking to becoming a full-time investor, you may wish to consider buying a property that requires upgrading first, then letting it out as opposed to selling it when the work has been finished

Becoming a successful property landlord isn’t just about buying any property and advertising it for rent in the local paper. Careful research will show you what yields you should be aiming for (yield is the net return on capital invested, or in simpler terms, rental income less costs incurred, divided by the value of the property, then expressed as a percentage). Market research will help you establish where there is a shortage of property to let and therefore where you can command premium rents. Clever market research will help you to identify ‘up and coming’ areas where you can sacrifice lower rental income in return for greater growth in the value of the bricks and mortar you have invested in.

2

Becoming a Landlord

Anyone who buys a property and subsequently lets it to a third party automatically becomes a landlord. However, there are various types of landlord, and at the very beginning you want to establish which type you want to be, and the financial implications of that choice.

If you want to fully immerse yourself in the world of being a property landlord, you may find it more cost-effective to do all the physical letting of your property yourself, along with the maintenance and upkeep. You may choose to divide the responsibility up between yourself, a letting agent and a managing agent, you may opt to set up your own property investment company to take full advantage of tax benefits, or you may just become an investment partner with someone, taking a dividend but having no overall physical input.

You may be aware that mortgage interest relief has now been reduced to the basic 20% rate of tax, while stamp duty has been raised by 3% across the board for the purchase of second or multiple properties. This has greatly affected the smaller investor with one or two properties, but you may wish to see an accountant or a financial advisor as registering as a company can have considerable tax advantages.

Legally, you are perfectly entitled to let out your own property as a private landlord. You are strongly advised to use the services of a solicitor to set up the tenancy agreement until you are 100% familiar with them. Today the most common form of tenancy agreement is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement which is usually set up for a period of six months to a year, and can be renewed for the same period of time. From a landlord’s point of view, the tenant can continue under the terms of an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, with the landlord, under Section 21 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, able to issue the tenant with a Section 21 notice of termination of the tenancy agreement giving two months’ notice to quit the property.

If you feel you don’t want to become involved with your tenants and the financial aspect of letting out your property, you can employ a letting agent to find you a tenant, and someone who will oversee the letting of your property throughout the duration of the tenancy agreement. For this, the agent will usually charge a fee in the region of 15% of the monthly rental income, plus VAT%. Now this fee is tax deductible, but with tax relief reduced to 20%, this makes letting more expensive than it used to be. However, a good letting agent is responsible for finding a tenant and managing the property once the tenant is in occupation, so it can be worth the extra cost for extended peace of mind.

Of course if you are thinking big and want to build up an empire of buy-to-let properties, then you will need to seriously consider creating a company for your property dealings. Having access to a substantial sum of money can allow you to buy one property outright, or with only having to provide a 25% deposit if you want to get a mortgage on a buy-to-let property, you can expand your potential empire well beyond one or two properties. Interestingly, one of the loopholes in the new increase in stamp duty is that owners of 15 or more properties are exempt from the stamp duty increase.

Finally, you may just be interested in being a landlord in name only, but have next to nothing to do with the day-to-day running of a property letting business. There are many shrewd investors who choose to back property investors and who will pool resources to buy into major property developments with a view to mass letting blocks of properties to management companies. Similarly, certain property investors will invest more in people than physical bricks and mortar. Crowdfunding has become an increasingly popular way of attracting investment in property, so there is a far greater number of options available to you as a property owner and bona fide landlord. Check out our Guide to being a Landlord article.

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Responsibilities – legal and otherwise - when letting property

Many who become landlords of buy-to-let property do so almost by accident, often letting out their own home while working abroad or elsewhere in the UK for a year or two. However, if you are letting out your home to a tenant, to do this successfully then there are two people you have to inform. The first is your mortgage company if you have a mortgage on the property. Your mortgage company will have lent you money on the basis you would be the occupant of the property being used as security for the loan. Having a tenant in occupation alters the mortgage company’s legal standing with regard to gaining occupancy in the event you default on your loan.

Secondly, and this is one than many first time landlords forget, remember to let your insurance company know that you are letting out your home. You cannot use standard domestic bricks and mortar insurance for property that is let out. Similarly, if you have let the property furnished, you will need to advise the insurance company covering your contents of the change in occupation. In both instances, expect to see a substantial increase in your annual premiums paid.

Other than that, when a tenant takes occupation it is not a dissimilar situation to when you have sold and moved home. You need to advise all the utility companies of the name of the tenant and you need to make it clear in the lease you have set up for the property that the tenant is responsible for all services and taxes liable on the property from the day they take occupation.

As a landlord, in return for rent paid, the tenant has the legal right to expect the property’s main structure to be safely maintained and to be able to enjoy uninterrupted occupation of the dwelling during the agreed period of the tenancy. During that time and as the landlord, you will also be responsible for ensuring that everything supplied with the property remains in perfect working order. The tenant will be responsible for the overall day to day internal condition of the property, but nothing structural or which relates to services. If there is a leaking pipe, it is your responsibility as landlord to have it repaired, not the tenant’s responsibility. If there is a leaking roof, it is the landlord’s responsibility to fix it. If there is gas central heating, it is your legal responsibility to get the gas boiler serviced every year.

In the simplest of terms, being a landlord doesn’t just involve buying a property, finding a tenant and receiving rent, there is appreciably more involved, and you can become as involved as you wish on a personal level.

However, while we are discussing the legal aspects of being a landlord and what would be required of you, there is also the law which exists behind what you are not allowed to do. For a start, you are not allowed to increase the rent during an agreed period for the lease. You are within your rights to increase the rent as much as you wish when the tenancy agreement comes up for renewal, but before that your hands are tied.

Unless the tenant is in agreement, you cannot legally enforce them to vacate the property prior to the ending of the tenancy agreement.

If a tenant falls behind on rental payments, you are legally entitled to serve them with notice to quit the premises. However, if the tenant refuses, legally you are not allowed to evict them from your property, which also included changing the locks when they are not present. Believe it or not, if you do that, you will be charged with breaking and entering, even though you own the property.

If your tenant falls behind on rent, you have to apply for an eviction notice through the courts, and the tenants can only be evicted by court-appointed bailiffs if they refuse to vacate the premises of their own volition. This is the down side of being a landlord, and cases of non-payment of rent are not uncommon. Invariably, by the time you get vacant possession of your property the inside will have been left in a dreadful condition, and on top of losing out on rental income for anything up to a year, the security deposit paid be the tenant will only cover one tenth of the cost of making good the inside of the property.

Of course you can always insure yourself against non-payment of rent by a tenant, and this can prove to be extremely beneficial for those who require the rental income from their let property to pay the mortgage. Such insurance policies will also cover you for legal costs involved in evicting a tenant and are remarkably affordable.

As an example, Rentguard offer up to £2,500 a month cover and up to £15,000 of legal expenses and the premium is only £99.00 per annum.

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Establishing Yourself as a Landlord

It may be that as a landlord, you choose only to have one buy-to-let property in your portfolio, a type of pension fund that relies on a tenant paying rent to pay the mortgage you have on the property, while over a twenty-year period they will ideally see the property more than double in value. After five years you may see the rent covers more than the mortgage, but with the passing of time comes additional maintenance costs. A successful buy-to-let investment is one which pays for itself with regard to immediate returns, but which increases in capital value year on year.

Of course there is also the often overlooked option of the HMO, or house of multiple occupancy. Where a traditional flat may see you achieve a yield of say 6%, an HMO is capable of returning around 9%. However, HMOs are maintenance-heavy investments, not just from a financial aspect, but also from a time management angle. Usually HMOs require additional and continual maintenance, rent payment can be sporadic, and tenants can be troublesome, but the higher rent paid as individual occupants compensates for the additional input required.

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Conclusion

Deciding to rent out property isn’t for everyone. Certainly substantial sums of money are involved, and this can make some of you feel uncomfortable. However, unlike investing in stocks and shares, while the value of your investment in property can go down, in the long term property is not renowned for losing its value completely. On the contrary, as a long-term investment, there have been few better options than property and certainly where the near future is concerned, that does not look like it will be changing anytime soon.

Ultimately, one of the greatest secrets to succeeding in renting out property is to talk to those who are in the know, those who have walked along this path before you. As human nature would have it, we all like to talk about how we have succeeded, and successful property landlords are no different.

Where renting property is concerned, never rush anything. Do your research and do your homework. Knowledge is a powerful thing, and where property is concerned, you cannot have too much knowledge. Talk to estate agents to learn about the best areas to buy property. Talk to letting agents to discover what property achieves the highest yields and which properties let most easily. To be a successful landlord you need to know your local market like the back of your hand.

And don’t forget to look forward, to plan ahead. As an example, check with the local planning authority what plans there are for future development where you live or where you want to invest in buy-to-let property. Discovering that there are plans to build a new university in an area of a city is your signal to invest in accommodation that would be suitable for renting out to students. As an example, the buy-to-let property market is likely to become very buoyant in Hereford now that plans for the new university have been given the go ahead. Being a successful landlord doesn’t mean concentrating only on the here and now, it is investments for the future that could well prove to be your most successful as a landlord.

What does being a landlord entail?

If you’re interested in becoming a landlord and letting out a property then this article will tell you a little about what you can expect. We talk about what it means to be a landlord and your responsibilities. While being a landlord can be a great money maker and many people run a business as full-time landlords, there are also a lot of downsides too. When you’re ready to take the next step, check out our guide “How to rent out your property”.

Landlord Guide

Landlord

If you rent out any of your property then you’re classed as a landlord, which then means you have certain responsibilities. Those responsibilities include:

  • Making sure all your rented properties are safe and have no health hazards.

You may need to have an HHSRS (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) inspection of your property to make sure there are no hazards; this will be because either the council has done surveys of similar local properties and believes yours may be a hazard, or your tenant has requested one. If a problem is found from one of the 29 health and safety areas they investigate they will either:

If a problem is found from one of the 29 health and safety areas they investigate they will either:

1

Issue you an improvement notice in which you will have to make amends

2

Fix the hazard themselves and then bill you for the work (can be very costly)

3

Stop you or any tenants from using the property

As long as your property is structurally safe and has been maintained regularly, including having the gas boiler serviced if you have one, then all should be fine.

  • Making sure all electrical and gas (if connected) services and equipment are all safe and maintained.
  • You must follow fire safety regulations with the installation of smoke and carbon dioxide detectors
  • Provide an energy performance certificate

You must also consider as a landlord whether you want to manage the property yourself or if you want an agency to handle the management of it for you. Not only can an agency/letting agent find you a tenant but they can also oversee them for you. The fee for this service is normally a percentage of the rental income each month and varies from around 8%–12%.

Personally we recommend managing it yourself, however it is your choice and that is often governed by personal circumstances.

Financial Responsibilities

You are legally required to protect your tenants’ deposit by placing it in a government approved scheme. You have no right to retain the security deposit that is lodged against any damage to the property or non-payment of rent if the tenant has met all their obligations and the ‘damage’ to the property is no more than you would expect from general wear and tear.

With the rental income, you will have to declare it. Like any business you will have to pay tax on your income minus any expenses. For this you will need to register as a sole trader and take a self-assessment test, check out our guide “How to set yourself up as self-employed”. You need to report income for rental over £2,500. If it is less than that amount then get in touch with the Self-Assessment Helpline. See our guide on claiming tax back on a rented property. If you have a mortgage on the property and if it is not a buy-to-let-mortgage you are meant to notify your lender. They are not obliged to grant consent for your property to be let out. If they do consent to it, they could load the interest rate or require an alternative mortgage deal to be taken out. If you have not yet applied for a mortgage we’d recommend knowing what their policy is if you are considering buying a property and moving in for a while before letting it out. You could always consider switching your mortgage to a buy-to-let one. However, there are people who let their property out without telling the lender which keeps the mortgage interest rate lower. If you decide to do this then just make sure your insurance is all in order too – you need to advise your insurance company which covers the building and contents that a tenant will be in occupation.

If you let your property and don’t tell your lender as we’re sure many people don’t, you could find yourself in a difficult position if your mortgagor finds out. The result may result in paying significant charges for breach of contract. Also if your insurance is just for private residential purposes and not a specific tenanted building insurance the insurer may refuse to pay out if your property burns down, etc. But if you keep up the payments every month what is the likeliness of them finding out? Well that’s up to you to decide.

Repairs and Maintenance

Just like the points above state that you must keep your property safe and make sure all electrical and gas services and equipment are maintained you will also have to carry out any repairs and keep the property well maintained so that everything is complies such as:

  • the structure of your property
  • basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings
  • heating and hot water systems

If you decide to rent your property through an agency they will take of all this for you through regular checks. However if there is a problem the agency will still notify you. If you ask the agency to fix the issue they will then bill you whatever it costs. If you refuse to carry out a repair on your property, tenants have the following options available to them:

  • Start a claim through the small claims court for repairs under £5,000
  • Carry out the repair themselves and deduct the cost from the rent.
  • Ask the council to carry out an HHSRS inspection and they can take any subsequent enforcement action necessary.

If you are taking on major repairs because the property is deemed unfit to live in, you can ask the tenant to move out. Before this you need to agree in writing:

  • How long the repairs will last for
  • The tenant’s right to return
  • Details of any alternative accommodation

You can’t repossess a property to do repairs. However if they are major you can apply to the courts for your tenants to vacate the premises or end the tenancy. If you provide alternative accommodation they will be more likely to accept. If you carry out repairs while the tenant is still living there they may be able to claim a reduction on their rent, known as a “rent abatement”. This will depend on what repairs you are doing and how much of the property is unusable. After you have made the repairs or improvement, if there are substantial improvements you have the right to increase the rent depending on the current tenancy agreement.

Rental Pricing

Your tenancy agreement should include how and when you will review the rent. If your tenant has a fixed-term tenancy agreement, for instance 6 months, you can’t increase the rent during that 6 month period unless your tenant agrees. If you’re on a month by month rolling contract with your tenant, then you can increase the rent at the end of any month if you give one month’s notice of an impending increase in rent required. However, you can’t normally increase the rent more than once a year. Any rent increase must be fair when comparing to the average local rents. You can increase your rent by:

  • Renewing the tenancy agreement but with an increased rent
  • Producing a written document for you and your tenant to sign regarding the increase in rent
  • Use a Tenancy Form 4B as a notice proposing a new rent via the .Gov website

If the tenant believes the rent to be unfair they can ask an assessment committee to set a fair rent.

Settling Disputes

If you and your tenant have a dispute, then it’s always best to sort it out between yourselves rather than going to court. Some of the ways you can do this is speak to your tenants about the problems and try and work a solution. If they are being unreasonable, try writing a formal letter to the tenant about the dispute and write what you believe needs to be done and why. If you still do not agree then you can either try a mediation service or take your tenants to the small claims court if the problem relating to money is less than £5,000, or £1,000 if it’s about repairs to the property. The small claims court provides a free mediation service which can take place over the phone. In terms of advice about disputes, you can talk to a solicitor, though they may charge a fee for their time.

Overall being a landlord can at times be stressful, however the income it will generate for you will be more than enough to cover that stress. Make sure to check out our guide about “How to rent out your property” as there we show the actual steps that you can take to successfully rent your property out.

MME Team

How to invest in property UK

buy to let tips and guides
buy to let tips and guides

If you’ve decided that buying a property to let out would be a good investment then you’re right. When you look at the potential earnings compared to having your money in the bank, which currently offers extremely low interest rates, it’s a no-brainer. However, usually you can only do this if you can afford the large deposit normally associated with a buy-to-let mortgage unless, of course, you have the money to buy a property outright without a mortgage.

What to look for when buying a property to let is the most crucial step to being successful. In this article we will be going through some of the main points you need to consider when buying a suitable buy-to-let property (as they are referred to).

Before going any further make sure your finances are in order and that you can afford to buy a property. Work on the worst-case scenario in terms of income you’ll receive. If you need a mortgage to buy a property, make sure you are eligible to get one. Also don’t forget to do your research! Do you know all the risks involved as well as the obvious benefits? It would be worth having a look at our landlord guide too so you are aware of all the responsibilities you will have as the property owner. Below are some of the main points to consider.

Can you get a buy-to-let mortgage? Most buy-to-let mortgages require a large deposit and can involve substantial arrangement fees. As an example, Barclays Bank, who are offering a 2-year fixed at 2.47% interest mortgage requires a 40% deposit along with a £1,999 arrangement fee. Many lenders can have strict terms too; Halifax wants you to own another property and be aged between 25 and 75.”

Net Yield

Net Yield is the main thing to look for when buying a property to let out; the higher the net yield the greater the return on your investment. For example, if you’re buying a property for £200,000 and it brings in £10,000 in rent that’s a 5% gross yield. You then work out your net yield which is after all your fees and costs, which can include managing agent’s fees, maintenance costs, etc. have been deducted. So if costs are £2,000 per year that would provide a net income of £8,000 which would work out at a 4.00% net yield.

Going back to the point earlier, which was to work on the worst case scenario, we’d recommend working on having the property rented for 10 out of the 12 months. So points to remember, work on Net Yield based on 10 months’ rental income.

Location

Location plays a massive part if you’re going to succeed in letting out your property. This point also ties in perfectly with the subsequent point, the prospective tenant. You should look to buy a property in a location that will be attractive to prospective tenants, and by this we mean:

  • Close to the town centre
  • Close to a Motorway Junction
  • Easy access to train & bus stations
  • Handy for supermarkets
  • Conveniently located for schools / universities

These facilities are what most tenants would look to be conveniently located for. However, It also needs to be:

  • Safe & Secure
  • Quiet
  • Nice & Clean Neighbourhood

It’s going to be difficult to match everyone of these however try and check off as many as you can. By doing so you’ll have a much better investment. If you wanted to invest in a property near where you live, yet that area doesn’t really have many facilities, it may be worth considering looking further afield. Make sure the local crime rate is low and that the overall area is a nice place to live, you’ll need to use your common sense, would you like to live there?

Prospective Tenant

When looking at buying a property you also need to look at who your potential tenants will be. If you buy your property in one of the cheapest areas around it may mean that you could have unreliable tenants. You need to think about who they are, what they do and what they need. If you’re buying a house near a school, then a family may be interested so you may need more than two bedrooms and a good-sized garden. If you’re looking at flats near universities in order to target students as tenants, you’ll need furnish it inexpensively and for it to be easy to clean. You can always tell what kind of people will be interested in renting your property by looking at the area and seeing who else rents property there. Have a chat with a local estate agent and ask what renting is like in the area, what kind of people are renting, and if there are many issues with tenants. It is important that you get good references for tenants and ask for a security deposit in advance so that you are protected against a default in rental payment or damage done to the property.

Maintenance

Maintenance is another great point and ties in with the previous one about tenants. You need to look at your property and establish what annual maintenance costs are likely to be. A property of substantial proportions and with a large garden is going to require more maintenance than an apartment. If you’re looking at a few different properties this needs to be considered as it may be worth deciding to go for a property that brings in a little less rent but where maintenance costs are low.

A new-build property is always a good choice to consider as not only is there normally no immediate maintenance required, but people love to rent a new house, so it could be let out quicker.

Price

Price again refers back to the first point of Net Yield and also the prospective tenant. If you’re buying a house at £140,000 you’re going to get a different kind of tenant than one renting a house that you’ve bought for £500,000, it’s a fact of life. In terms of referring to net yield, make sure that the yields are the same whatever the price of the property is. For example, if you buy a property for £250,000 which returns 5% and a property half the price returns a 6.5% yield, you may want to consider buying two cheaper properties.

Haggle! Unless you’re in a rush then make sure to haggle on the purchase price. We’ve known many entrepreneurs offer totally unrealistic offers and told us that they felt embarrassed making such low offers, yet like they said, the worst that can happen is a vendor just says “No”. When we refer to yield, this will be affected by the price you pay for a property, so negotiating hard to get as low a price as possible will increase your likely yield.

Time

How long will it take to rent out? This is a question that is going to be difficult to answer and if you talk to most estate agents they are unlikely to give you a straight answer. The following should be taken into consideration when looking to invest in a buy-to-let property that will let successfully and swiftly:

  • Do your research on location. The better the location, the greater the chance of finding a tenant
  • Check rental values in the area – see what other landlords are charging. Overcharge on rent and you may find a tenant, but it might take you four months to find one, which is four months’ rent lost, or 33% of that year’s income. Better to be competitive to ensure you get a tenant straight away.
  • Market the property to rent the moment you have exchanged contracts, don’t wait until you complete on the purchase. Set the date for tenants to move in as one week after you have bought the property to allow time to clean it and do any minor repairs. The owners of the property will allow your prospective tenants access if you ask politely. Remember, one week’s rent is 2% of your annual income.
  • See what property values in any area have done over the last five years. Those which have risen the most will confirm you are buying in a good area and are likely to continue to increase in value.
  • Check on availability of similar properties to rent. If there are 20 similar properties that are available to rent, you will struggle to find a tenant and also command a full rent. Establish, by talking to local letting agents, which sector of the rental market has a shortage of property to rent, and target those properties to buy.

Buy-to-let has been such a popular investment tool because it not only provides you with an immediate income, or return on your investment, through rent paid, but while the property market remains buoyant, you will also benefit from a rise in the value of the property. Recent government legislation is such that stamp duty has increased on any property you buy that is not your primary residence, and for higher rate tax payers, the tax relief on a buy-to-let mortgage has dropped to the base rate of 20%. However, you could always set up a company that makes renting out your property a business, and therefore you can take advantage of different and more beneficial tax legislation.

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