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A property fit for renting

In a time of low rates and stock market instability, purchasing a buy-to-let property can be an attractive investment. However, like most investments, there are risks associated. In order to make the most out of your rental property, we have created a series of top tips, from securing the right location to presenting your property to suit your potential tenant.

1. Do your homework!

First of all, it is important that you do your homework! As a landlord, you have certain responsibilities that you should be aware of. You will need to swat up on any insurance, rules and regulations (including gas, fire and electrical safety requirements), Tenancy Deposit Protection, tenancy agreements, notice periods and access. By law, you will need an EPC (energy performance certificate) for your rental property. You won't be able to market the property without one. An estate agent can help you organise this.

2. Research your local location hot spots:

It is vital to research your target areas before deciding on where you would like to purchase your buy-to-let. Is there an area with special appeal' Is the town, city or village within commuting distance of the capital' If your chosen town has a large student population, you may need to consider buying a large flat or townhouse that has a number of bedrooms to suit your young tenants. Alternatively, if there is a good local primary or secondary school located within walking distance, you could consider investing in a family home with a good garden. For example, St Cross and Oliver’s Battery in Winchester are much sought-after areas for families.

3. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential tenant

Instead of imagining whether you would like to live in your investment property, put yourself in the shoes of your target tenant. It is important to work out your most likely tenant and present the property accordingly. Young professionals might not expect a garden, but they will need the basics in terms of furniture. Families will need a garden, plenty of storage space and parking. The property should be a blank canvas, so they can add their personal touch to their new home.

4. Look after your investment

If you have a buy-to-let property that you are struggling to fill, try improving the appearance of the property. A buy-to-let investment will always need some tlc in order to make the most of its investment potential. If the shower is looking old and mouldy, replace it. If the kitchen floor is starting to peel away, fix it and if the walls look tired, paint them. Ensure your property is clean and well presented in order to secure a fast, lucrative let. Remember, if you allow tenants to make their mark on a property, such as painting or adding pictures, it will help make the property feel more like home, which will encourage the occupants to stay longer.

5. Ask the experts!

Purchasing a buy-to-let property shouldn’t just be a hobby. If your investment property isn’t located in your local area or you have other work commitments, you will need an agent to help manage your buy-to-let. You will need to figure out how much involvement you want from the agent. Do you just want them to find you a tenant and conduct all the security checks or would you like them to look after the ongoing rent-collection and property management' Extra costs will occur when working with an estate agent; however, it could save you a lot of hassle and time in the long run.

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