Last week I mentioned some soft landlords I know (I’m still not naming any names!) and how they rush to the aid of tenants whenever there’s a minor issue with the property.
Being an attentive landlord is one thing, but it’s possible to go too far. The landlords I’m thinking of as I write this have been lucky enough to get decent tenants who haven’t tried to take advantage, but it’s only a matter of time before they encounter a bad egg.
With that in mind, I wanted to write a few tips on how to ensure that you’re treating buy-to-let like a business.
Have Everything In Writing
In most cases of tenancy disputes, communication is a major factor. Things can get difficult when it comes down to “he said, she said”, so it’s wise to keep communication to a written medium where possible so you have a record of everything.
When information isn’t included in a contract, letter or welcome pack, lots of tenants will be more inclined to go with their best guess than to call you for clarification. Needless to say, that best guess might be very different from your expectations…
Always Be Able To Prove It
Imagine finding a huge mark across your wall after previous tenants have moved out. When you ask them about it, they tell you that it was there when they moved in. You reply that it wasn’t and are met with a jagged “prove it”.
Extensive time-stamped photography of both the interior and exterior of the property is the best way to be able to do just that. This, along with keeping receipts and detailed records, could seem like overkill but you might end up being very thankful you did.
Don’t Treat Tenants Like Your Kids
If there are any parents reading this, you’ll probably be able to think of a time when you let your child get away with something or covered the expense of something when they couldn’t afford it.
As much as they might remind you of them sometimes, tenants are not your children. Or your parents. Or your friends.
They are human beings though, so I’m not saying that you should be completely inflexible, only that you shouldn’t let them get away with late rent payments or repeated rule-breaking without a very good excuse.
Profit VS Time
The success of any business really comes down to one thing—how much profit you’re making vs. how much time you’re investing.
If you’re spending hours and hours tending to the property but are making very little profit, then one of those things needs to change. You could recruit a letting agent to take care of the management side or, if it’s realistic to do so, look at raising your rent.
Buy-to-let is a big investment and, just like you probably always look for the best interest rates for your ISA or savings account, you should always be thinking about how to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.