Tips to improve your buy-to-let business in 2019
As we head toward the end of another year (where on earth has the time gone?), it’s worth taking stock of where your buy-to-let business stands and how to improve it in 2019. One area on which your business depends is the relationship you have with your tenant. The better the relationships you have with your tenant, the less likely you are to have issues or problems.
These six New Year’s buy-to-let landlord resolutions provide ideas to assess your landlord/tenant relationship and to make it work even better in the future.
1. I will be firm but fair with my tenant
It won’t serve you well to be a pushover and give in to every request or demand made by your tenant, but it is also bad policy to be super stubborn and take a ‘my way or the highway’ approach. It is best to be friendly and professional, and make no exceptions to the rules laid down by the tenancy agreement.
However, if there are circumstances in which a little flexibility will help your tenant, then, provided they are a good tenant, you may wish to relax the rule (there’s always an exception to the rule, right?). If you do relax a rule for a tenant, make sure that you document the what, why and when of your decision. Put it in writing to the tenant so that they understand this is an exception, and not a new precedent under which your relationship works.
2. I will document everything
Keep a record of all your tenant conversations – whether they are verbal or in writing. This will help you to keep track of complaints and requests made, what your actions were, and what was agreed between you. If you speak to your tenant on the phone, take notes and summarise them in an email to your tenant.
Make sure that you keep all your records, too. This will help you at tax time, understand your costs, and manage the financial side of your business more effectively.
3. I will respond promptly to repair and maintenance reports from my tenant
Have you ever been delayed at a railway station or airport? How annoying is it that there is no communication about what is happening and when departure can be expected?
Treat your tenants how you would want to be treated. Be prompt to reply to their repair reports, and keep them informed about what is happening. A good rule to follow is to reply to requests and queries within 24 hours (easy with a tenant repair reporting system working for you).
4. I will understand the difference between wear and tear and damage
One of the easiest ways to break a previously great tenant relationship is to confuse wear and tear as damage to property. During tenancies – especially long tenancies – wear and tear is inevitable. Make sure you know your wear and tear from damage to avoid deposit disputes at the end of a tenancy – you don’t want to suffer from adverse reviews.
5. I will make certain my tenancy agreement is watertight
Ensure that everything you want in the tenancy agreement is in it, that the tenant knows and understands what their obligations are, and that the agreement complies with the law.
Remember that tenancy agreements must be fair and should include 10 essential tenancy terms and conditions – including details about rental reviews, deposit details, and what the tenant has to pay and do.
A word of warning to DIY buy-to-let landlords: the tenancy agreements that can be bought ‘off the shelf’ are rarely good enough to do the job they should. This is because landlord and tenancy laws are constantly changing, and bulk printing of tenancy agreements means they are often out of date as soon as they are published. (Check out our article ‘178 reasons the law causes buy-to-let landlords such stress’ to find a list of the laws that apply to landlords today.)
6. I will keep in touch regularly with my tenant
You cannot build a trusting relationship with your tenant if you don’t keep in touch with them. Make a point of calling them or emailing them once a quarter to ask if all is well and if there are any issues with the property that need your attention.
Better still, carry out a quarterly property inspection. This gives you the perfect opportunity to connect with your tenant, ensure there is no damage or maintenance requirements, and also check that the terms of the tenancy are being met.
It doesn’t have to be hard work
Building a good relationship with your tenant is an effective way of ensuring they are looking after your property. When a good, trusting understanding is developed, it is easier to do the hard things (such as raise rents), and you’ll find that your tenant is more likely to stay in your property for longer, thus reducing costly void periods.
However, building and maintaining a good landlord/tenant relationship is not easy. It takes time and effort, knowledge of the landlord laws, and sometimes a thick skin. How you decide to benefit from your landlord/tenant relationship is your choice. You can do it yourself, or you can take advantage of effortless property management. To do the latter, contact Ezytrac today at +44 0 1522 503 717.
Live with passion,