Guide to renting out property for buy-to-let landlords

Renting Property – Lettings Guide for Buy to Let Landlords

If you are to become a successful property investor or buy to let landlord you will need to be well versed in the procedures surrounding the property lettings process. Understanding how to attract the best tenants and what’s involved in renting property to achieve a good return on your investment is a fundamental part of being a successful buy to let landlord.

Understanding the Buy to Let Property Market

Before you make your move into the buy to let property market it is vital that you do your research to get a good insight in to this area of the property investment sector.

Property investors who have been successful in the buy-to-let property game will tell you that before they began to invest that they spent months, if not more researching, getting advice from estate agents, and doing a fair amount of market analysis – such as what rents can be achieved in the areas they are interested in, the kind of tenants that properties will attract, and so on.

Property Legislation, Tenants Rights & the Law

As well as your market research, there is also a fair amount of knowledge required by prospective buy-to-let landlords when it comes to learning about legislation, tenant’s rights and compliance with the laws affecting buy-to-let property.

First and foremost, before you set the ball rolling and begin to invest your cash in buy-to-let you should make sure you are fully prepared for the task ahead.

Even though preparation may seem like common sense to most people, there are many who just want to reap the rental rewards and are not prepared to put the effort in from the offset and get everything in place.

Renting property can be rewarding, but it can also be hard work at times and will require your constant attention so you have to expect uncertain times on the road ahead.

Building Surveys & Property Inspections

Before anything, you should make sure that the rental property you are looking to purchase and then rent out is up to scratch.

Firstly, you should consider getting a full building survey carried out to check the structural integrity of the property and make sure there will be no hidden surprises such as structural defects, major repairs or other costly issues.

You should also get qualified professionals in to check that all safety guidelines are met for electric, water and gas before you begin to focus on the general look and feel of the place.

First Impressions Really do Matter when Renting Property

If you are renting your buy-to-let property then it’s important that you get a number of the property letting basics right first time.

If the property looks welcoming, homely and comfortable, people will fall in love with the place and will be more likely to want to rent it.

On the flipside, if you do not put the effort in to make it look presentable, then you may lose out to other competing properties on the market.

Renting out a buy to let property can be extremely competitive as the market is pretty much saturated, so in order to stand out you have to market yourself and the property extremely well.

Things to Consider Outside the Property

Going into further detail, you should concentrate heavily on the external parts of the property if you want to attract tenants fast… this is because it is the first impression of your property that potential tenants will have.

If they don’t like what they see on arrival then they are unlikely to take a look inside the property – even if you have spent time and money on transforming it into something extra special.

If the property is lucky enough to boast a garden you should immediately concentrate on tidying this up.

Make it a feature, cut the grass, add plants to inject colour and if there’s room add a bench or a garden seat to make people feel like they have somewhere to go and relax in the warm weather.

You should also focus on repairing potholes on the driveway and make sure all surrounding walls, fences and gates are in good condition.

If you really want to make a good first impression, then paint the windows and get any scuffs or scrapes removed from the door.

All this work will make the property stand out from the rest and will show your prospective tenants that you are prepared to put the work in to get the house looking presentable.

Rubbish bins and other unsightly necessities should also be kept tidy but out of sight.

Things to Consider Inside the Property

Once you have managed to get the outside of your property looking presentable you should move your focus inside.

It is here where you will get to de-clutter and let your creative interior design ideas flow.

Before you get stuck into buying ornaments and fluffing up cushions however, you should look at more pressing issues such as the look of the property from a structural and building services perspective.

Ask yourself some simple but telling questions:

  • Interior Walls

    Are all interior walls strong and smooth?

  • Redecoration

    Does the property need redecorating?

  • Appliances

    Do all appliances work?

  • Building Services

    Is the plumbing, heating and electrical work up to scratch?

  • Subsidence

    Does the property suffer from subsidence or other significant structural defects?

  • Other Problems

    Does the property suffer from damp or other serious problems, and if so are these problems repairable?

All these questions should be answered immediately and are vital considerations if you want to be a successful landlord… many are also necessary if you are to meet legal requirements and regulations.

What about Internal Decoration?

Once all repairs have been made you should then focus on scrubbing the place from top to bottom.

Window sills, skirting boards and carpets are just the tip of the iceberg and all should be cleaned thoroughly to remove dust, dirt and any staining.

You should then redecorate the rooms using colours that will suit the widest possible tastes…. you should also purchase good quality furniture to make the rooms feel complete.

Remember… never clutter the property with unnecessary items, space and light are everything in a property, so make sure you maximise its potential.

Buy-to-Let Tenancy Regulations & the Law

Once the property has been properly repaired, cleaned and redecorated you may well think that you are nearly there – in actual fact it is only the beginning as you have then to work through the regulations and legal requirements imposed on buy-to-let landlords.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

For example, if the property is large and is to be occupied by multiple tenants, further regulations may also apply, especially if the property is classed as a House in Multiple Occupation or HMO.

If the property is considered to be a House in Multiple Occupation then there are additional factors to be taken in to account relating to suitability, safety and health; the landlord will also need to formally register and license the property with the local authority.

Other Considerations for Buy-to-Let Landlords

There are also other things to think about before deciding whether or not renting property is right for you, or indeed whether or not you have the determination and the drive to see it through.

Considering all options will ultimately lead you to discover how as a landlord you can prepare for the letting process and how best to manage it.

Things landlords need to consider include:

  • Finances

    Your personal circumstances such as finances.

  • Marketing

    How you will advertise the property?

  • Lettings

    Will you let the whole property to one tenant or let individual rooms to different people?

You should also get an understanding of the cost of running the property – utility bills and council tax for instance, solicitor’s fees; monthly mortgage repayments owed on the property; letting agents and property management fees; insurances and contingency budgets for maintenance.

Choosing a Letting Agent when Renting Property

If you are still determined to press ahead with your buy-to-let investment after you have taken all factors into consideration, you should then look into choosing a good local letting agent.

Getting a letting agent to deal with some of the process ultimately means responsibility for finding a tenant is down to them as opposed to the landlord. This frees up some time for landlords who have already spent most of their time getting the property ready for letting.

A letting agent will deal with viewings and tenant negotiations and will ultimately help a landlord to find a decent, financially sound and hopefully reliable tenant.

If you think a letting agent could help you, it is important that you select one with a good reputation as they will help you to find good tenants.

A good letting agent will manage and conduct viewings on your behalf, provide you with advice and guidance, provide feedback, advertise properly and efficiently… they should also know the local market inside out.

Choosing a Property Management Company

It is also an option for you to use the services of a local property management company once you have found tenants for your buy-to-let property.

Whether or not you utilise their management services is entirely up to you and will come down to circumstances, but you could find that utilising this option frees up even more time.

It is also worth considering that if you don’t live locally, you are away or spend a lot of time abroad, then a local property management company will help to look after the property and the tenants whilst you are absent.

Some letting agents also offer property management services, and landlords with more than one property may benefit the most from this combined service.

A combined letting agent/property management company will vet potential tenants by sourcing references from previous landlords and conduct credit checks, they will organise rent collection from the tenants and arrange for repairs during the tenancy, and inspect the property on a regular basis to check all is well.

Pre-Tenancy Check List

Finally before taking the plunge and getting onto the property letting ladder as a buy-to-let landlord you should draw up a pre-tenancy check-list.

This will enable you to keep tabs on everything you are doing, on what you need to do and it will also ensure that you are doing everything by the book and are not making obvious mistakes.

Specialist Property Investment & Property Finance Solutions

As a leading independent property investment specialists Investment Property Partners offer expert advice and support to clients across our specialist areas of expertise helping them to achieve their investment objectives.

If you are a property investor searching for investment or development opportunities, property finance solutions or would like to learn more about our property management capabilities please contact us today to discuss how Investment Property Partners can help you.

Further reading…

More information about buy-to-let property… here →

More information about renting out property from the UK Government… here →