Our top 7 buy-to-let tips for landlords' success in 2016

With 2016 so far proving a rollercoaster year for landlords, we’ve put together seven pieces of buy-to-let advice that every investor should know.

From tax changes to buying in the right areas, our top tips for landlords can help you finish the year strongly, setting you up for an even more successful 2017.

1. Get up to speed with recent tax changes

No article promising buy-to-let advice post-April 2016 would be worth its salt without addressing this year’s tax changes.

Landlords would be wise to read up on the recent modifications, as Chancellor George Osborne introduced an extra three per cent stamp duty on properties bought after April.

The amount of tax relief that landlords can claim was also slashed, with Osborne announcing both changes in his 2015 summer budget to a fair bit of anger from the landlord community.

2. Carry out tenants’ background checks

From February, landlords have been forced to carry out extensive background checks, or risk heavy fines and even criminal penalties.

The legislation, announced back in 2014, means landlords must check every new tenant’s ‘right to rent’.

Landlords - or their agents if agreed in writing - are now obliged to take copies of documents such as passports to confirm the immigration status of their tenants.

However, the legislation hasn’t proved popular with landlords, with almost 80% of landlords voting that they shouldn’t have to carry out such checks in our online poll.

3. Invest in the right areas

Given the spate of changes this year, the question of whether buy-to-let is a good investment in 2016 is probably a relevant one.

And while some investors might be hesitant, research suggests buy-to-let is still profitable - but you’ll need to invest intelligently.

And this all starts with highlighting what you’re looking for and investing in the right area. For rental yields, take a look at the North West: it’s believed to be the best place for buy-to-let investment in the UK, at least according to an online poll we ran.

If you’re after a more in-depth overview, check out our guide to the best buy-to-let areas in the UK.

4. Get the right tenants

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But securing tenants who are responsive, look after your property and pay on time is essential.

We’ve all heard horror stories about tenants from hell, and the sad truth is they do exist - here are five types of nightmare tenant and how to spot them.

Our landlord tips to avoid dodgy tenants

  • Get sufficient references (previous landlord, employer etc)
  • Ask for payslips to confirm they can afford the rent
  • Consider a guarantor
  • Investigate cash payers
  • Meet the tenant - a first impression can count for a lot

5. Choose the right property portal

Competition for tenants is high - particularly if your property’s in a hot-spot - so choosing the right places to list your property is essential.

If you’re looking to list on the big sites like Rightmove and Zoopla, you’ll need to list through an agency. And whilst this costs, the big two inevitably draw in more prospective tenants.

Take a look at our guide to the best property websites for landlords to decide whether the bigger, costlier sites or the smaller, niche portals are best for your needs.

6. Know your responsibilities

Being a landlord can be a tricky business. There’s a lot to know, and a fair few obligations that you’ll have to fulfil.

From deposit protection schemes to landlord insurance, knowing both landlords’ and tenants’ responsibilities is a necessity if you want to avoid any unwanted implications.

And remember - be sure to seek appropriate legal advice before any important decisions.

7. Keep your property in order

It makes sense that landlords would want to keep their property in shape. After all, you’ve almost certainly paid a lot of money and invested a lot of time in it.

And keeping your rental property in the best condition possible is vital if you want to attract the right tenants and avoid costly disasters.

Regular inspections, finding the right contractors and educating tenants are all part of our top rental property maintenance tips.

Have you got any other tips for success as a landlord? Let us know below.

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