Rental health: 10 tips on being a successful landlord

Published: 06/07/2020

Being a landlord can provide a useful stream of income combined with an appreciating asset to help you build a small or large portfolio and plan for a comfortable retirement. We wouldn’t call it an entirely passive income, but it certainly doesn’t have to be hard work.

For the purposes of this article, we’re defining successful as profitable, enjoyable and easy. Profitable means a good income with minimum voids; enjoyable means a healthy relationship between landlord, agent and tenant; easy means minimal time, effort and drama.
If that sounds like the sort of experience you’d like as a landlord, this article should set you on course for success when letting out your property. It can ultimately be summed up with the phrase "make it easy on yourself": landlords who take care of their rental property tend to bring out the best in their tenants, which means the tenants tend to stay longer. That in turn means fewer void periods and also less wear and tear on the property through less move ins and move outs.

So here are our ten tips on creating that success for you and your rental property.
In the case of small apartments - studios, 1 bedroom – it's wise to allow for one void month per year as these are the homes with the highest turnover. It's simply down to the stage in life of people living in small spaces: usually they'll be starting out before coupling up, or possibly separating and needing a temporary solution. So bear that in mind when looking at the purchase price against the monthly income.
Give up your own personal taste in decor and think instead about what will bring you the greatest rental income. Decorating your rental property in a neutral fashion will make it more popular and achieve more rent. You’ll also find tenants stay longer if they're surrounded by comfortable tones: think warm whites and you'll be on the safest and most profitable ground.
Being nice works. Looking after your tenant works. And caring for your property works. Quickly attending to problems – which, let's be real, will arise – fosters a culture of goodwill and will have your tenants see the value in reciprocating your good nature by taking care of your property. They’ll also stay for longer which makes everyone happy.
With Energy Performance Certificates highlighting a property's eco-credentials, it pays to do what you can to give your property its best possible rating by implementing any recommendations from the Energy Assessor.
As newly built homes push the envelope of what constitutes standard equipment, tenants expectations have increased in line with the prices of rents. We've seen tenants dismiss otherwise lovely apartments because they were under specified, so steer clear of the temptation to skimp. You don’t need to go on a Miele spree, but good quality mid-range appliances will last a lot longer than the cheapest models, which means less organising of repairs and replacements.

Dishwashers are a particular case in point here: no matter how nice your property is, you could lose out to another one – and get less rent for your own – simply down to how easy it is to do the dishes.
Little things like a bike rack or thermostatic valves on radiators are inexpensive-but-thoughtful inclusions that make life easier and more economical for tenants. (And as a sign of the times, power sockets with USB outlets are the new thing!) Have a think about little things that make your own home life easier and see if it works to incorporate those. Being stingy isn't necessarily economical and certainly isn't supportive of long-lasting tenancies.  

No matter how much we all hope and pray that every tenancy will be problem-free, life just isn't like that. It can feel easier to fix a problem in your own home than fixing one in your rental property, but things that need fixing need fixing. So it’s wise to accept that, and to acknowledge that just because something goes wrong, it doesn’t mean your tenant is careless or clumsy.

If you want an entirely peaceful life without having to deal with maintenance issues, the easiest option is to employ a managing agent. For extra simplicity, give them advance authority for works up to a certain budget without needing to bother you.

Deal with any leaks or water problems fast. These are without doubt the most common problems with a menu of possible culprits: taps, toilets, sinks, baths, showers, heating, gutters, drains.

There's just so much water going around properties that something’s bound to go wrong one day, and nipping leaks in the bud at an early stage is vastly cheaper than leaving a small problem to become a major issue for an entire building. If a leak leaves a stain, ensure the affected area is redecorated to avoid recurring concerns from potential new tenants over your plumbing.
It’s very rare that an overpriced property will actually find a tenant. As your letting agents we are here to get you the full market rate – and our fees are directly influenced by getting you the best price – but tenants are not stupid. Indeed, you probably don't want a stupid person living in your rental property! But if you want to attract a high-quality professional tenant at the best rent possible, all you need to do is provide a high-quality property at a rental that reflects exactly what you’re offering.
How would you like your tenant to treat your property, and how would you like your tenant to communicate? If words like carefully and pleasantly spring to mind, consider that you have the power to make that happen.

Give your tenants confidence from day one that you are committed to their enjoyment of living in your property, and back that up by dealing with any problems they may encounter. Without any shadow of a doubt, that is the way to ensure that even major issues are handled in a relaxed and civil manner.

We hope you’ve found these tips useful. Both our Berkhamsted and Tring branches have busy lettings departments and we offer a range of services to help landlords.

Check out our
services here, or give us a call.

Berkhamsted office: 01442 863000
Tring office: 01442 820420