Discover the traps that most new landlords fall into, to avoid making a mistake with your property.
Buying the wrong property
Sometimes you can think you’ve ticked all the boxes and then still find it difficult to rent your property.
For example, there may be a university near by, but are you actually buying a house in the part of town where the students like to live?
Or, you may think your property is just right for a family, but later discover that no one’s renting it because the catchment area for the best local school ends just across the road.
There’s little substitute for local knowledge, and buying in an area you know well - for example the city you live in or where you went to university - is usually a good plan. If you’ve decided to buy somewhere else, make sure you spend time walking around, speaking to local people, and checking online for insider knowledge.
Accepting tenants without background checks
If you’ve had a chat with prospective tenants and they seem pleasant and trustworthy, it’s tempting to let them move in as soon as possible.
But remember that the person (or people) that live in your flat or house will effectively have control of your property while they’re living there. If things don’t work out, evicting tenants can be a stressful and difficult process.
It’s far better to do proper checks before you sign a tenancy agreement. These include background and identity checks, references, and credit checks. You can get an agency to do these for you.
Not paying enough attention to the lease
It’s easy for landlords to download a template tenancy agreement from the internet. If you do this, make sure that you’ve read it thoroughly before you sign it, and make any changes or additions that you need to.
Pay particular attention to things like the length of the tenancy, subletting ,whether tenants are allowed to redecorate, and your position on pets and smoking.
However, if you modify an agreement, you must make sure that it still complies with the rights that tenants are granted by laws and regulations.
The government provides a model tenancy agreement for shorthold assured tenancies.
Failing to protect the tenancy deposit
Even though deposit scheme regulations came into force in 2007, some landlords are still ignoring them.
According to the rules, you must put your tenant’s deposit into a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving it.
If a county court finds that you haven’t done this, it can order that you pay your tenant up to three times the value of their original deposit.
Forgetting landlord insurance
Thinking that an ordinary home insurance policy covers you for your rental activities is a common mistake to make.
In fact, you usually need a specific landlord insurance policy to make sure that your rented property is fully covered.
A landlord insurance policy would usually include buildings insurance, landlords’ contents insurance (which doesn’t cover tenants’ possessions) and landlord liability cover.
There are many other insurance options to consider too, including accidental damage and tenant default cover. We’ve published a quick start guide for more information.
Neglecting health and safety regulations
There are lots of health and safety regulations that landlords need to keep in mind, and it can be costly if you don’t stick to them.
For example you must give your tenants a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, and you have to follow fire safety regulations. You also have to provide fire alarms and fire extinguishers if you’re renting out a large HMO.
Letting unpaid rent stack up
Rather than letting months slip by without any rent, talk to your tenants as soon as they fail to pay. Perhaps there’s a relatively easy solution to the problem, like changing the monthly payment date so that it fits better with their cashflow.
Or perhaps the problem is bigger, in which case they may struggle to pay every month. Dealing with the problem right at the beginning is far better than waiting until your tenants have got into a habit of failing to pay their rent and racked up thousands of pounds of arrears.