Ever heard of the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Written almost 20 years ago, it’s one that’s still pretty much required reading for anyone who’s in business or wants to get better at setting and reaching goals.
But here’s the really strange thing: a lot of the information in the book actually translates really well to being a landlord!
We know that not everyone will get around to reading the book (ironically enough, they’re probably the ones who need it most) so we thought we’d create our own abridged version – 7 Habits of Highly Effective Landlords – right here.
This one should pretty much go without saying. A buy-to-let property isn’t like a Field of Dreams – “buy it, and they will come” does not apply here.
It doesn’t really matter if you find tenants online, through an estate agent or via word of mouth; the important thing is that you do SOMETHING to bring them in.
Begin With The End In Mind
When you buy your first rental property, where you’ll be in five years time is probably the last thing on your mind… but it shouldn’t be!
Considering your longer term goals is the best way to set the level of rent you need to charge to meet them, make sure you’re taking the proper steps to look after your money and so on.
Put First Things First
Putting in a new kitchen and giving the whole place a lick of paint is a great way to smarten up a rental property. It’s not, however, something you should be doing before you know that there’s no damp and that all of the wiring is up to code.
Ambitious goals are great (see above!), but they shouldn’t come at the expense of essential tasks… even if they are less fun.
You want to make money – that’s a given. But you also want to (or at least you should want to!) ensure that your tenants are happy. A happy tenant is one who will take good care of your property and stay longer, causing you less administrative hassle.
Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood
Of course you’re going to have certain rules that are infallible. However, there are other situations in which you might need to keep quiet and listen before you reach your conclusion.
An obvious example of this is that most shops won’t allow animals inside but will allow guide dogs – there may well be similar exceptions and concessions that you want to make.
You don’t need to do everything on your own. Lots of landlords build a network of estate agents, reliable handymen, cleaners and other people that they can count on in a pinch.
Mind you, working with others can (but doesn’t have to) be expensive so it’s wise to make sure that your budget can handle any partnerships or relationships that cost money.
Sharpen The Saw
This is how the book refers to self-renewal and self-improvement. In the context of property management, we might be better off talking about improvements in general.
It’s hard to think of a better time to renovate than when a property is vacant, not least because landlords can get a council tax break is a property is deemed uninhabitable because of repairs that are taking place!