Out with the old and in with the new – in the new year lots of us start making plans to sort out our personal lives.
If you’re a landlord, however, it’s worth thinking about more than simply getting your own house in order when your thoughts turn to clearing out and reorganising.
Applying the same thought process to your rental properties can help you get your portfolio in good shape for the year ahead.
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You might feel you’re too busy to take a regular look at where you’re at with your investments, especially if they’re ticking along nicely without causing you any issues.
But you can easily lull yourself into a false sense of security.
To avoid coming unstuck and having to face any nasty surprises later on, it’s worth considering the following three questions to make sure your rental income is secure for the year ahead.
1. When did you last visit your tenants?
If the rent continues to flow into your bank account on a regular basis and unexpected maintenance bills are a rare occurrence, you may think there’s no need to visit your tenants.
But it’s good practice to arrange a visit at least once a year, to check on your property and chat to your tenants about any issues they may not have got around to mentioning yet.
For example, a small leak in the bathroom or kitchen could crop up in conversation. This gives you the chance to deal with it quickly, when it’s still fairly insignificant, rather than leaving it to become a bigger and more costly issue further down the road.
2. Are you getting the best rate on your mortgage?
The new year is a good time to check the interest rate you’re paying on your buy-to-let mortgage, if you have one, to see if you might be able to secure a better deal with another provider.
When you’re living a busy life, the end of your initial mortgage deal can creep up on you, leaving you to automatically slip onto your lender’s so-called standard variable rate.
This rate is often higher, meaning you may be paying more than you need to on your monthly mortgage repayments. Shopping around and remortgaging could, therefore, see you making significant savings.
3. Are you charging the right amount of rent?
Local property markets often fluctuate, and this can have an impact on the rent you charge. So it’s worth doing your homework on some property websites to see if the rent you’re charging is in line with market value for the area your property’s in.
For example, a new employer may have moved into the local area, bringing a boost to the job market, which in turn increases the demand for rental properties. It could give you scope to increase the rent on your property.
This is especially true if you haven’t increased your rent for several years, and your tenants are paying much less than other renters in the area.
A little research at the beginning of the year could go a long way to boosting to your rental income for the coming year.
What else should landlords consider as we approach the new year? Let us know in the comments below.