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The Landlord’s Guide To Understanding Your Tenants

By Darragh Timlin on October 29th, 2022

Becoming a residential landlord for the first time can feel quite challenging. These days, tenants are becoming far more discerning about the property they choose to rent, as well as their relationship with their landlord.

With so much news on TV about rouge landlords and the Government’s commitment to making the private rental sector fairer for landlords and tenants, understanding what your tenant wants from you as the landlord is more important than ever.

First, you should ensure you protect yourself and your rental property with a landlord insurance policy built to meet your individual needs. Although research shows that only six per cent of tenants have a poor relationship with their landlord, you should still cover yourself for any unexpected issues, such as accidental or deliberate damage to your property.

Your landlord insurance will give you great peace of mind, especially when covering periods when you may not receive a rental income from your property due to fire, flood or storm damage that renders the property unliveable for your tenants.

What do tenants want?

The best advice for buy to let landlords renting for the first time is to build a good relationship with their tenants. A happy tenant means longer tenancies, fewer disputes, fewer voids and a better landlord reputation for you.

A well-maintained rental property is top of the list for tenants because they don’t want to spend a hefty slice of their income on poor accommodation. Keeping your property well-maintained means greater asset protection for you too! Tenants will be more inclined to look after the property like it is their own if it is in good repair and can be a home to be proud of.

As well as a lovely home to live in, tenants look for the same advantages in a rental property as house buyers. For example, a home in a good school district for renters with children, a property with easy access to transport links for work, secure car parking, plenty of storage space and being close to green outdoor areas such as parks, beaches or countryside. These are things to think about when looking for your first buy-to-let property.

Secure and healthy properties

Government advice for new landlords is to keep tenants safe and protected in secure properties with minimal health and safety risks. There is a lot that a new landlord needs to do to ensure their rental property is up to government standards and will help their tenants feel safe in their new home. This includes:

  • Carrying out Gas safety and electrical safety checks on appliances, boilers and heaters
  • Fitting a burglar alarm for improved security when tenants are out of the house
  • Fitting high-quality deadlocks to the doors and windows and a peephole to the front door
  • Installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and inspecting them regularly
  • Maintaining windows, doors, garden fencing and gates to ensure they close securely
  • Provide energy-efficient properties with double-glazing, loft and wall insulation

With sky-high energy costs, landlords can help reduce the pressure on tenants by fitting more energy-efficient fixtures and fittings. For example, switching the home to LED lighting and installing a smart meter and heating thermostat can help tenants reduce their energy bills.

There is a lot of awareness over property EPC ratings, so ensuring your rental property has a good EPC rating will be another attractive feature for new tenants looking to reduce their energy consumption.

Deep cleaning and redecoration

Offering a clean and well-maintained property to rent that has deep-cleaned carpets, and freshly painted walls is always a good move to attract the right tenant. If you are showing an empty property to prospective tenants, a dull and dirty home with faded walls and chipped paintwork will give the impression that the property hasn’t been well looked after.

Tenants want to rent from landlords that care about their property and the well-being of their tenants. Showing a house that needs a bit of TLC is a huge red flag to new tenants. Bringing in a professional cleaner to deep clean the property and a decorator to freshen up the décor will give the best first impression to prospective tenants and a benchmark to work from for maintaining the property.

Don’t delay maintenance jobs

Ongoing property maintenance is the landlord’s responsibility, so attending to any property maintenance and DIY jobs as quickly as possible will demonstrate your commitment to your tenants and show that you care about their well-being.

It is the responsibility of the tenant to report any issues with the property to the landlord ASAP. This can include accidental damage or potential health and safety risks from broken floor tiles, cracked pipework, broken windows or locks etc. But it is the job of the landlord to carry out repairs and remedies in good time before things become worse, more dangerous or more costly to fix.

Finding your tenants online

The internet has revolutionised how we live our lives, including how renters find new homes. Most tenants will search online for their next home, which means advertising your rental property online is the most effective way to attract a new tenant.

Plenty of property sites will let you create an online rental listing for your property that will tell prospective tenants everything they need to know about the property. Using a professional photographer to take photos of your property is a good idea to have a clear and well-lit set of images highlighting its best features to upload and display.

Setting the right rental price for your property is also essential. Before you post your listing online, do plenty of research on the local rental market to learn what a fair and reasonable rent is to set. You will want to set a rent that will be affordable for your tenants, and putting it too high will mean that your property could be standing vacant for a long time, and you will be missing out on a lot of rental income.

Should I hire a property manager?

A property management company or letting agent can look after your rental property on your behalf. The advantage of using their services is that you can be free of many worries and responsibilities that come with being a landlord.

Your property manager can market your property, vet potential tenants, collect rent payments, and deal with tenant issues. If you are a first-time buy-to-let landlord but also work full time and have a busy family life, the services of a property management company or letting agent can be worth their weight in gold.

They can also offer plenty of advice for landlords in England that are new to letting out a residential property, especially regarding their legal responsibilities towards their tenants. This can be invaluable if the thought of managing your rental property by yourself feels too overwhelming.

Property managers have first-hand experience with all aspects of letting out property and maintaining them to meet government legislation over health and safety requirements. They can also provide Government mandated eviction advice for landlords should they find themselves dealing with a problematic tenant or decide that being a landlord isn’t for them and they want to sell the property.

Conclusion

Becoming a landlord for the first time can be both exciting and overwhelming. Taking the time to find the right property to let out, making it as safe and attractive as possible and building a strong relationship with your new tenants is the right way to go about this new role.

First and foremost, becoming a landlord will be a gamble, so it makes sense to have the right landlord insurance in place to help protect yourself and your livelihood. Brisco Business Insurance is here to help you with all your landlord insurance needs. Our team of experienced underwriters at Brisco Business ensures that your business insurance policy provides adequate coverage for your specific needs.

Darragh Timlin

With over 25 years’ experience, Darragh is an expert in all things insurance. Starting his career in commercial property underwriting, Darragh has worked for a number of global insurers and is now Managing Director of Brisco Business, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Darragh Timlin

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