Becoming a Better Landlord: Happy Tenants Means Happy Returns
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re managing a property empire, being a landlord can be difficult to get right. Aside from the administrative side of owning rental property, being a good landlord also means working alongside your tenants, rather than viewing them as rental income.
It can be difficult as a landlord to build lasting relationships with tenants, especially if you’re working across a broader portfolio. That said, marketing yourself as a good landlord and forging connections often means reaping the rewards.
A happy tenant is a tenant that will look after the property and deliver the income that you’re looking for. While there is always the option of working with a property management company or a lettings agent, if you’re looking to do it yourself, we’re asking the question: what makes a good landlord?
What Makes a Good Landlord?
The HomeLet Landlord Survey shows that 85% of tenants were somewhere between ‘very happy’ and ‘somewhat happy’ with their landlords. On the other side, 96% of landlords said they were between ‘very happy’ and ‘somewhat happy’ with their tenants.
This shows that, typically, many landlords and tenants have a happy tenancy with each other. That said, the same report highlighted that 52% of landlords also had to deal with a problem tenant, showing that it’s not the same for everyone.
One of the top priorities for tenants is having a landlord that is both active and reachable. While no-one wants to be constantly disturbed, having a landlord that can quickly answer queries or fix issues is vital, especially when an appliance needs repairing or similar challenges.
Similarly, being flexible is high on the priority list for tenants. While it’s important to set ground rules regarding things like pets and decorating, having flexibility around these issues can stand many landlords out from the crowd, ensuring a happy tenant and regular returns for the landlord. It’s important to take an objective view for each and every tenant, as every tenant will be different.
Finally, be fair. Landlords need to strike a difficult balance between being fair but not being too lenient – as this is still a business transaction. Establishing yourself as a fair landlord could have a huge impact on how both tenants and letting agencies view you, allowing you to maximise the potential of your investment.
What Must a Landlord Provide by Law?
As a landlord, you’re bound by law to provide tenants with a number of things upon commencing a tenancy. These include:
- An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- A Gas Safety Certificate (providing there’s gas appliances)
- A copy of the How to Rent Guide (if you have an assured shorthold tenancy post-October 2015)
- Ensure your tenant’s deposit is protected by a Government-approved scheme
- Check your tenant has the right to rent your property
Deposit protection is particularly important if you have a tenant in a Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Legally, you’re required to utilise one of three government-backed schemes within 30 days of receiving the deposit. You must also serve the tenants with Prescribed Information related to the deposit within 30 days. Failure to do this can lead to financial penalties up to three times the total deposit.
The Landlord Checklist
Want to make sure that you’re ready to rent? Download our handy Landlord Checklist and ensure you have everything you need.
How Can You Make More Money from Your Property?
If you’re looking to make more money from your property, the most obvious way is to ensure your property is the best it can be. Once you’ve picked out a prime area with plenty of demand, ensure that everything inside is up to scratch.
Improving the appliances included within the property is an easy-win, ensuring your tenants have premium fixtures they can use during their tenancy.
Similarly, buying a premium product will attract premium tenants – ensuring you receive a higher and more consistent rental income.
How to Avoid Voids?
A void period is a challenge that most landlords will face at some point or another. Typically used to describe a time period where the property is empty and not returning any income, it’s important that landlords are prepared for voids and understand how to avoid them.
The simple answer, in theory, is to keep your tenants happy. A happier tenant is more likely to stay in the property for longer. Similarly, ensuring you do your checks prior to choosing a tenant, means you can deliver their needs more effectively.
Attitudes to renting are already changing in the UK and tenants are choosing to rent much longer, meaning landlords can benefit from delivering a high-quality service.
Having a quality product also helps. While the initial cost is understandably higher, a premium product will typically rent more effectively in the long-term.
If you do happen to have a void period in a property, having a ‘rainy day pot’ to help with unforeseen payments can be incredibly useful, allowing you to cover payments without dipping into your personal finances.
Dealing with a Bad Tenant
While this won’t apply to all landlords, there may be times when you need to deal with a ‘bad’ tenant.
One of the easiest ways to avoid dealing with a bad tenant is to avoid them. If you’re finding your own tenants, be sure to have a screening process in place and do the necessary research. Contact the tenant beforehand and discover their situation and needs before you sign an agreement.
However, if you’re looking to settle a dispute or deal with tenant challenges, it’s important to know what you can and can’t do.
Under the Housing Act 1988, you can’t terminate an Assured Shorthold Tenancy within the first six months of the agreement. If you feel you need to terminate the agreement after this period, make sure that you give the correct notice.
Evicting tenants is more complicated and understanding the process will always stand you in good stead. For more information on evictions, UK Government resources can point you in the right direction.
Similarly, there is always a chance that tenants may damage or mistreat the property. This is what the deposit is for and can be used to cover any damage, although industry experts will always recommend having insurance (both mandatory and additional) in place.
Government guidelines suggest legal action as a final step and typically, having good communication with the tenant in the first place can solve most disputes. Mediation services can also be cheaper and quicker than court action if necessary.
Generally, being a good landlord comes down to having good communication and properly preparing. Having a strategy in place is vital and understanding the tenant demographic you’re looking to serve, as well as the goals you want to achieve from your investment, will make the entire process much easier.