Congratulations, you’ve invested in a property. You’re going to help pay off the deposit, or help to pay your own bills, by renting it out. Being a landlord will be easy right? Yes and no. Being a residential landlord is not a full-time job but it is a serious responsibility and if you do it without expertise and experience you could end up wishing you hadn’t gone at it alone. For example, through unforeseen circumstances such as extreme weather, failing appliances or poor tenant conduct you could find yourself facing insurance claims, damage to your property or worse, injury to your tenant and legal action as a result.
Before you set out to take all of this responsibility onto your own shoulders, make sure you know the full extent of your responsibilities as a landlord and have the financial and time resources to fulfill them. Tenants and landlords alike may be put off by the presence of a ‘middle man’ and any additional fees that they incur as a result but there’s a reason that property management is a business in its own right.
Okay, what is a property manager?
A property manager is hired by the property owner to oversee and perform the daily operations of renting their property. Rental yields and deposits, insurance and mortgage payments, inventories and cleanliness – the list of duties that property managers oversee goes on and on!
As a liaison between the landlord and the tenants, it’s your property manager’s job to ensure that both parties are satisfied with the property and its daily operations. Acting on behalf of you as the property owner, a property manager will have signed a contract or agreement with you, outlining their duties in exchange for a monthly fee.
Landlords may be managing multiple properties which may be in a similar area, near to where they themselves live, a different county – or even a different country. Of course in these circumstances, it’s fairly essential to outsource a property manager based near the rental property. This is in case urgent action is required and to make ongoing admin and processes such as viewings and inspections easier to manage and schedule. However, even when this isn’t the case, managing your property on your own could cause you problems.
The value of using an agent for property management
Convenience and time
There’s a lot to keep track of as a landlord, especially if you own and manage a portfolio of properties. Check out this list of duties:
- Rent and deposit management and collection
- Building maintenance, ensuring property integrity
- Property rental valuation
- Property marketing, print and online
- Ongoing tenant liaison, including rent reviews
- Liaison with utility providers
- 24 hour tenant helpline in case of emergencies
- Transfer of utilities for new tenancies
- Pre and post tenancy repairs
- Viewings of rental properties
- Monthly rental collection
- Deposit return negotiations
- Managing tenants
Exactly which services any property managing agent provides will differ between agents but most good agents will cover all of the above. What’s more, as professionals they’re likely to have more experience and time dedicated solely to ensuring that all of the above is done to a high standard.
Ask yourself, do you really want to be answering emails or responding to phone calls about broken boilers, leaks or beeping smoke alarms in the evenings and over the weekend? If not, consider hiring an agency to take care of these issues for you.
Peace of mind
You may find it easier attracting tenants to your property when property managers are involved.
Acting as a middle man, managing agencies are able to handle any issues or disputes in a much more professional and less emotionally-fuelled manner. But most importantly, as trained professionals, the likelihood of either tenant or landlord falling foul of their legal obligations is also significantly reduced. This makes for a more positive and less costly expensive experience for both parties.
Prospective tenants may find it reassuring knowing that they are in the hands of professional property managers and do not have to deal with a landlord who they may not get along with or may be too emotionally invested in the rented property.
Legality and professionalism
One of the most important concerns for landlords and tenants is the intimidating list of legal responsibilities and obligations. These are in place to ensure that both landlords and tenants have a fair and positive experience when they enter into an agreement. The consequences of neglecting your legal duties could be very serious, not to mention costly – for either landlord or tenant. A professional property managing agent will not only be aware of all of these, they will be experienced in managing them professionally.
What legislation is there?
Today there are 140 pieces of legislation relating to landlords renting their properties and falling foul of this legislation can lead to anything from a prison sentence to fines of tens of thousands of pounds. And if the legal and resulting financial penalties alone don’t persuade you not to avoid your due diligence, perhaps you should look to your morals. Accidents happen and if they do as a result of you failing to comply with the below legislation, you could have some serious guilt on your shoulders.
As a landlord you have a level of responsibility for the safety of your tenants. The following are some of the latest topics within the current lettings regulation:
Right to Rent
It’s your responsibility to check that any tenants have the legal right to reside and work in the UK. This is achieved by thorough vetting and official references checks.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
All rented properties must have smoke alarms fitted on each floor, and carbon monoxide alarms in any room where gas appliances are being used (and solid fuel is being burnt).
Under the Gas safe Regulations 1998, all landlords are obliged to perform annual gas safety checks on their properties and Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs) at least every five years.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
All of your rented properties must have an EPC, with a minimum energy performance rating of E.
Notice to end a tenancy
Believe it or not, as a landlord you are not free to do make changes to your rental agreement as and when you please. This is to protect people from poor landlord practice. When an individual originally with no relation to the tenant, is in charge of and hasfull ownerships rights to where they live, the tenant is in quite a vulnerable position. Therefore they hope that the landlord is a good person, otherwise they could end up homeless.
Following legislation, landlords are now restricted in ending tenancies in certain circumstances such as where they failed to protect the deposit or to supply information to the tenant at the start of a tenancy. This includes the Energy Performance Certificate, the Gas Safety Certificate, details of the Deposit Protection, a signed Tenancy Agreement with detailed information of the terms agreed and the Government’s How to Rent checklist. Without the correct serving of these documents, a knowledgeable tenant would be well within their rights to refuse to leave the property.
Membership of accredited bodies
A professional property management agency is also likely to be registered with the Association of Residential Lettings Agents, which provides the ethical and professional framework for their business. They should also offer Rent Guarantee Protection which covers any legal expenses if tenancy issues arise.
There are many benefits to employing the services of a professional agency to manage your rental property on your behalf, and these go beyond ensuring that someone is there to answer phone calls and emails at all times. (Although if you are renting property as a sideline job or as part of a large property portfolio, this is definitely appealing!)
James Anderson, provide local property management services and advice. Each and every one of our Lettings office across South West London, has a property management manager available seven days a week, until 9pm weekdays. Twenty-seven years of property management experience in London has taught us a lot, so we won’t be changing our committed and personal approach any time soon. Find out more about our property management services here.