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5 avoidable mistakes too many Landlords make

As a current landlord or if you are thinking of renting your property out, there are a lot of things that you might be aware of to consider. With new legislation put in place early this spring, this article will walk you through 5 common avoidable mistakes that are frequently made by landlords. How are you performing as a landlord? Are you falling short of your tenants’ expectations and what is required of you by law?

1. Not leaving enough time for marketing
Landlord are often mistaken when they believe that tenants only start looking for a new property just before their move out date. However, many tenants start their property search even before they have given their notice on their current rental property. So, it is very important that landlords get their property onto the market as quickly as possible.
We believe at Fraser & Co it is best to start marketing around two months before your property is available. Make sure your existing tenancy agreement allows for this, and if not update the remarketing clause to allow you to show it to prospective new tenants in the closing two months of a tenancy. Students, especially international students, often plan even further ahead, so don’t delay when it comes to remarketing. Voids are costly so make sure you are taking full advantage of marketing time to ‘avoid the void’.
Finally, make sure that the agent you have appointed has access to your property before putting it on the market. Make sure that the agents have their own set of keys to conduct viewing on the property and also that the current tenants are made aware and given adequate notice that viewings will be taking place on the dates agreed. The sooner you will get an offer, and the sooner the existing tenants can be left in peace to pack for their move.  

2. Not valuing first impressions
We live in a digital era, so first impressions are not always gained on viewing the property, but in fact they are made online. 
Make sure that new photos are taken before putting the property on the market, rather than using dated ones for previous marketing. Make sure that all photos of the exterior of the property are in the relevant season. Marketing in the summer with external photos showing snow on the ground will make potential tenants think that it has been on the market for months and that there is something wrong with it. 
Another thing to consider is, how the interiors look in the property. Do you need to refresh the décor, upgrade the furniture or get around to doing some touchups like giving the property a fresh layer of paint? If you have already made improvements to the property then make sure the pictures reflect this. 
If you are letting your property for the first time and you currently live there, now is the critical time to declutter and de-personalise. Make the effort now to declutter and try to stage the property to look as attractive as possible to potential tenants, just as you would if marketing for sale.

3. Not responding to tenants
Having a good positive relationship with your tenants will result in tenants that want to stay for a longer term. Some requests from your tenants may seem unnecessary but accommodating requests can help to maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship in the long term.
One simple law to abide by is always reply no matter what the nature of the enquiry is and be polite. If a repair is needed, explain what you will need to do next, who you are in contact with and let them know the rough timeframe in order to manage your tenant’s expectations 

4. Self-managing rental property
When something needs fixing or the tenant has locked themselves out, typically it happens when you aren’t available to deal with it, or, even worse, when you’re on holiday and don’t see their message at all!
As a landlord you have an obligation to keep the property in good repair and working order, and to respond to requests from tenants in a reasonable timeframe. Even if a tenant request seems unreasonable or unnecessary, it always needs to be responded to in a professional and non-emotional way. This is where professional property management becomes critical.
Understandably, tenants expect a high level of service when they’re paying rent, so it’s important to make sure that you keep on top of what’s happening and respond quickly to any queries or problems. Consider paying for a professional Property Management service that will allow you to take a back seat and minimise your stress. Visit our Landlord page for more information about our property management services (http://www.fraser.uk.com/estate-agency/let-property/residential-landlord-fees-charges)

5. Neglecting compliance & safety checks 
The 5th Money Laundering Directive takes effect in January 2020, so the benefits of using an agent are further extended when this becomes law. Right to Rent checks are still legally required when letting to adults in England aged 18 or over, despite legal challenges. When instructing an agent make sure you double check what their process is for Anti Money Laundering and Right to Rent compliance checks. 
A gas safety certificate must be obtained for your rental property every 12 months to show that the gas appliances are safe to use. Councils can request this be produced within seven days of demand, so make sure you have a record of all historic checks, and a valid certificate at all times.
Fire alarms need to be installed on every level, and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance. Test these at the start of every tenancy, and on every inspection to ensure they stay in working order.
 A HMO license is required if you let your property out to three or more unrelated people, then you may need to install mains-wired smoke alarms, heat sensor and a CO alarm in any room with a gas burning appliance like a boiler of gas fire. Electrics should be checked by conducting two types of tests. The first, a Portable Appliance (PAT) test, is to check that anything with a plug is safe to use. This is best done at the start of every tenancy.
The second is an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) by a NICEIC qualified electrician (www.niceic.com) and this is valid for 5 years. Again, if you let your property as an HMO you must have an EICR and the council can request this be produced within seven days of demand.
A valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) needs to be maintained too, and these last for up to ten years. The rating needs to be a minimum of band E – if your property does not reach this minimum rating then you may need to make upgrades, or see if you can get a registered exemption.
 
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