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Winkworth Guide: How to become a First Time Landlord

Winkworth has compiled a few top tips to help you get started and make your transition into becoming a first time landlord as seamless as possible

If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord for the first time it can be a daunting process. To help guide your initial investment, we’ve compiled a few top tips to help you get started and make your transition into becoming a first time landlord as seamless as possible.

What are your financial goals?

As a potential Buy-to-let investor you must first consider what sort of investment and return you are hoping to make from your property. Income from a rental property can be achieved from either the long term capital growth of the property which is a longer term view, or the rental income from tenants exceeding the outgoing costs associated with the property, occasionally both. Costs for a landlord might include the mortgage, the service charge, landlords insurance, the estate agents fees, property management costs and additional tax implications on the property itself and the rental income. Nothing is guaranteed as the property market fluctuates so you must be aware of the potential of void periods without tenants when you are responsible for all bills, interest rates rising, or the value of your property decreasing.

Safety standards

Before you can even market your property you must get an Energy Performance Certificate done. Your lettings agent can carry this out for you. You must also have a Gas Safety Certificate and have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in the property as well as at least one smoke alarm on each level.

A portable appliance test will need to be carried out on all small electrical goods to ensure that they are safe. This will include things like lamps, kettles, toasters and tvs - again your lettings agent can arrange for these tests to be completed on your behalf. All furniture must meet the latest fire safety regulations and retain the labels proving that they are fire resistant, so if a sofa is very old it might be worth replacing it with a new model which will not only appeal to potential tenants but also adhere to safety regulations.

Decorating the property

As a landlord it is best to think long term - carpets might need to be replaced regularly through wear and tear, so could you have wooden flooring or tiles in certain rooms and decorate with neutral rugs instead which are cheaper to replace than carpets? It is always advisable before the start of a potential tenancy to decorate, touch up or repaint rooms, repair anything that is damaged, clean grouting and carry out all DIY before you start marketing the property.

Consider also when buying furniture that whilst you want things to last, a tenant may not look after things as you would, so be prepared for wear and tear and think about things that might suffer from regular usage such as sofas.

Presenting your property as a home

If you are hoping that people will want to make your property their home, you need to make it as inviting as possible. A neutral colour scheme is always advisable and you can add colour through removable soft furnishings. The little touches really do make a difference to potential tenants who will probably have seen numerous properties like yours and can all be removed before a tenant moves in. Dress a rental investment with aspirational objects and products and make your property stand out. A bathroom should have fluffy towels on the rail, hand soap in a glass dispenser and perhaps a luxury candle on the shelf next to high end products. A bedroom should be calm and clutter free, adding a crisp white duvet and pillows to the beds and a stylish lamp with a classic book makes the room look inviting and like a home. A lounge should have fresh flowers or a plant with coffee table books or recent magazines, and perhaps an unopened bottle of prosecco with two glasses on the table. Place a couple of popular cookery books in the kitchen, and a cafetiere with unopened coffee and two stylish mugs next to the kettle; make the property as inviting as possible. When people can begin to envisage themselves in the space in your home it becomes a big draw. Always ensure a property has had a professional clean before it is shown to tenants.

Finding a tenant

When your property is ready for tenants you will need to market it with an agent. Winkworth offer a full service from photography and marketing to full property management. Think about how hands on and available you can be as a landlord, if you are not local and something goes wrong then a fully managed service might be best for you. Fees vary depending on the service you select. Winkworth fully vet all potential tenants for you, providing reference checks and holding deposits.

For up to date lettings advice, or to market a property contact your local Winkworth office.

Read our handy landlord’s guide here.

Click here to view our infographic "First time Landlord guide".

Are you looking to buy, sell, rent or let?

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