Maintain your property

tips for maintaining your buy to let property

So you've established your buy to let strategy. You've chosen a suitable location with strong tenant demand and you've got a property that is perfect for tenants looking to rent in that area. You've successfully advertised the property and found someone suitable who is set to move in and start paying you rent. You can sit back relax and watch the rent roll in...... or can you?

Letting buy to let property isn't a license to print money, it can be extremely hard work. There are several legislative requirements that need to be considered and most, if not all properties will require some degree of on-going maintenance and management.
Of course, many landlords decide that the best course of action for them is to employ the services of a letting agent to manage the property on their behalf. As such the letting agent will arrange the various safety documents that are legally required, and deal with any maintenance issues highlighted by the incumbent tenants. The letting agent will liaise with the tenants and arrange to fix any problems using their own service providers. In many instances this is the ideal solution. It saves the landlord from having to find reputable trades-people and organising suitable timeslots with unhappy residents. However, annual management fees can be expensive and many letting agents will add their own commission rates on top of any call-out charge. You could of course get in touch with London Handyman who will ensure your property is always in tip top condition.

If the idea of paying an agent to manage your rental property doesn't appeal, read on. Here are a few tips to bear in mind if you decide to manage your buy to let property yourself.

1. Make sure you have an Energy assessment in place. Landlords in England and Wales who are letting property are now required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to tenants. An EPC demonstrates the energy rating of a property and gives advice on how to make a property more energy efficient using measures such as extra insulation.

2. Ensure your tenants have a comfortable living environment. It is a legal requirement for you to take good care of the property you are letting out. This includes a responsibility to ensure that the structure and exterior of the property are in good order, the heating and hot water installations are operating correctly and that all sinks, baths and drainage are fit for purpose. If you are not a natural DIY enthusiast it is easy to find a local painter, decorator, plumber or electrician online.

3. Deal with any repairs in quickly and efficiently. The law requires landlords to maintain their property and undertake any major repairs that are required. If your tenant calls about a minor repair it is still important to get it fixed as soon as possible. Although you may think your tenant is being picky, its best to keep your tenant happy – a happy tenant is one who is more likely to remain in your property for the long term. This will help you avoid rental voids and save you the costs of attracting a new tenant. If you don't have time to do minor repairs yourself or you don't live in the area, source a local handyman to do the work for you. If they do a good job keep their details on file – you're sure to need them again!

4. Ensure your Gas safety inspections are up to date. Landlords need to ensure that every gas appliance and all gas pipe work meet the required safety standards. With effect from the 1st of April 2009 Capita Gas Registration and Ancillary services will be responsible for the registration of gas engineers. Landlords are required to present a gas safety record of the property being let. The gas check needs to be carried out on an annual basis by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Make a note in your diary to remind you to get the check carried out each year and keep a record of each safety check.

5. Obtain electrical safety certificates for all electrical equipment supplied in the property as part of the tenancy agreement. This needs to be done to prove appliances are safe and will not cause danger.

6. Ask your tenant to regularly check the smoke detectors in your rental property, ask them to inform you of any faults so that you or a local handyman can replace any that are not working. Properties built after June 1992 must have mains operated smoke detectors fitted on each floor.

7. Check all furniture in your property for fire safety regulations. It is an offence to let a property with any furniture or furnishings that do not comply with fire safety regulations. At times the requirement to keep on top of repairs and legal checks may seem daunting but it is highly advisable to remember that old saying – 'customer is king'. Your tenant is your customer, keep them happy and you'll keep rental voids at bay.