Guide to being a landlord

Renting out property has the potential to be a lucrative business opportunity. It is a valuable source of income that doesn't have to interfere with other work or take up too much spare time.

However, there are a number of considerations for landlords to think about when renting out a property, both to protect themselves and to ensure the situation is as profitable as possible. Here are some of the top considerations for landlords:

Primary considerations

Before the property is even made available to prospective tenants, there are a number of decisions that the landlord needs to make beforehand. The one that must be considered before anything else is location. The area the property is in will depend on the tenants who will be looking to rent it. If the landlord intends to rent the property to a family who want to stay long-term, it doesn't make good financial sense to buy a property in an area that is frequented by students. The surrounding area needs to be a key consideration when the property is being bought.

The landlord also needs to consider how much interaction they want with the tenants. If they are going to be quite involved, it will be more logical to find a property close to the home address so that travelling isn't an issue. If the landlord does not live locally to the property, or does not have the time to get very involved, it can be beneficial to hire a property management agency to deal with the day-to-day running. Although this will cost a fee, it also removes the need for the landlord to make frequent visits or get involved with small issues that can take a lot of time.

Legal issues

When renting a property out, there are a number of legal practices that the landlord must adhere to. All landlords must have gas safety certificates for all relevant appliances. A Gas Safe registered heating engineer will check all gas-powered appliances and issue paperwork to the landlord that will need to be updated annually. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is another legal requirement for the landlord to provide for the tenants. An accredited Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) will be able to issue one of these certificates.

The decision of whether to furnish the property also needs to come into the legal considerations. The type of tenants may be a deciding factor as to whether the landlord furnishes the property, as students may prefer furnishings, while others may not. If furniture is to be included in the property, the landlord must ensure all soft furnishings are non-flammable and have Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 labels on them. These furnishings include everything from beds to cushions.

Tenant management

The management of the tenants is not something to be ignored by landlords. While a legal contract will need to be drawn up between the landlord and the tenants, there are other considerations that may not come under the contract, particularly if they are subject to change. For example, the landlord will need to make the decision of whether to allow tenants to have pets. While they may be happy with a cat, a large dog may not be so desirable. These sorts of boundaries can often be worked out face-to-face, but put anything in writing to make it clear.

Similarly, changes to the decoration and rules about smoking also need to be considered. Some landlords may be happy to let the tenants decorate, on the condition that the property is returned back to neutral colours when their tenancy ends. This can be particularly desirable for long-term tenants. Cigarettes are responsible for many house fires, as well as cosmetic damage to the interior. These factors need to be considered when making a decision about smoking in the house.

There are many considerations for landlords to think about before renting a property out to tenants. Obviously, there will also be ongoing things to consider, and priorities may change depending on personal circumstances of both the landlord and the tenants. But taking these factors into account at the beginning could reduce the amount of aggravation further along the line, making the letting process a little easier. Planning ahead often makes things run more smoothly, so make a checklist of things to consider that you can refer to a various stages of the letting process.