You may recall in a previous post that I wrote about where to find tenants for your buy-to-let property. Today, I’ll be following that up with a post on a few ways to nurture your relationship with tenants on an ongoing basis.
Having a proper tenancy agreement in place is important not only to protect you, but also to protect your tenant. A landlord who wants to subvert proper rental procedure – taking a deposit, getting everything down in writing etc. – immediately looks very sketchy in the eyes of potential tenants.
A nice plastic folder containing the gas safety certificate, a copy of the tenancy agreement, instructions on how to get at the fuse box etc. all in one place is also always appreciated.
If you’re working with a letting agent they may do this on your behalf, but I’d always recommend making your own detailed notes about the condition of the property (as well as any furnishings) and supplement it with lots of photos.
Having this sort of comprehensive documentation in place puts tenants at ease, because it means that arguments over any damage in the future are much less likely.
Legally, you can’t drop in your tenants unannounced – you need to give them at least 24 hours’ notice, and should have a good reason. Telling a tenant that you’re coming round “to check up on them” definitely won’t go down well…
If you really must visit the property then reassure the tenant(s) that it’s to check up on someTHING (not someone…), like a boiler that’s been playing up or a roof that’s seen better days.
The more notice you can give about changes to the rent, workmen who need to get access to the property etc., the better.
This makes tenants feel like you respect their space, and that you don’t just see walking pound signs when you look at them.
If you’re going to be out of the country let tenants know well in advance and, if you’re going to be unreachable, try to come up with an alternative point of contact in your absence.
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that leak. I’ll get to it next week.” I once had a landlord who fed me this line for almost 3 months before I had to escalate things with the letting agent I’d used.
Tenants know things like arranging repairs can take time, but at least respond promptly and give a reasonable estimate of when they can expect things to get done.
Hint: if it’s going to be three months, “next week” is not reasonable.
Go The Extra Mile
If your tenants are bringing lots of belongings of their own, leaving extras for them may just get in the way. But, if you know they’re arriving virtually empty-handed, a few rolls of toilet paper and a loaf of bread can go a long way.
There’s no obligation to be nice, but you might be very glad you did if you ever need a favour from the tenant further down the line.