January is nearly over, and with its end comes the inevitable slew of broken resolutions - but New Year’s Day isn’t the only time during which you can resolve to make changes.
In fact, with the dust having settled from the festive season, we are now in an even better position to take stock and to consider what we need to change.
So, here we’ve compiled a list of year-long resolutions for landlords. Check which you’re already sticking to, and which could help you make 2015 even better than 2014.
1. Prepare for rate rises
Since the financial crash, landlords have enjoyed historically low interest rates. However, this will not last forever. Although there is some disagreement as to when rates will rise, it is vital that landlords begin to prepare for the inevitable hike. Now may be a good time to consider shifting your mortgage to a fixed rate deal in order to lock in the low rates.
2. Pay attention to tax
HMRC has been cracking down on landlords in recent months. The Let Property Campaign has seen the taxman offering an amnesty to landlords with undeclared rental income, but this is running in tandem with more aggressive action against those who fail to get their tax position in order. The Revenue estimates that undeclared rental income totals at least £550 million a year, and they are taking strong action to recover it. If you’re worried that your tax affairs are not being dealt with correctly, you should seek advice from an accountant.
3. Check your insurance
Insurance should be a key priority for every landlord. Take this opportunity to make sure that your policy is still right for you. If your circumstances change – for example, if you take on new properties, or if the value of your contents increases – you should speak to your insurer. If you’re not insured, you should rectify this as soon as possible. Get a landlord insurance quote now.
4. Review your tenancy agreements
A solid tenancy agreement is your bedrock. It is vital that the document you use is watertight, and that you understand each of the clauses in it. Last year the government launched a new model tenancy agreement for assured shorthold tenancies that you may wish to use.
5. Build a slush fund
It’s important that landlords have a cash reserve ready in case of emergencies. Void periods are a sad reality of life for landlords and, unless you have a guaranteed rent deal with your agent, you need to make sure that you have the money to cover them. Similarly, with rates set to rise, you need to start making financial provision for potentially increased mortgage costs.
6. Make regular contact
Many landlords have no contact with their tenants other than at the beginning and end of a tenancy, or when repairs are necessary. However, it’s important that your tenants know that there is someone looking out for them in the event that things go wrong. To that end, think about making regular contact, perhaps once a quarter and by email, asking how they are getting on. This can help to reassure tenants, and to make for a more enjoyable relationship.
7. Team up
Finally, you should remember that there is a wealth of help and information for landlords available online. By joining one of the many web-based landlord communities you can get support from others in your situation. Remember, you don’t have to think of yourself as being in competition with other landlords. By working together, and by sharing knowledge, you can help to ensure that your own work goes as smoothly as possible.