Alastair Woodgate of leading St Albans and Watford based Chartered Surveyors, Rumball Sedgwick, says there’s more to being a good landlord than meets the eye.
We’re often hearing about the qualities of a good tenant – with paying the rent promptly, respecting the property and its contents and being clean and tidy topping the list – but what makes a good landlord?
At the extremes, there’s the absentee landlord who never communicates, or the landlord that pesters tenants and wants to know everything that is going on. Neither is attractive to renters so finding a happy medium is key to attracting and retaining good tenants. Landlords do a thorough job of screening prospective tenants, but tenants also look for certain qualities in landlords. After all, a tenancy relationship has two parties and each should have mutual respect for the other to ensure a positive relationship.
Research suggests the top qualities of a good landlord are being organised, dealing with maintenance and urgent issues in a timely manner, drawing up a fair tenancy agreement (to include setting a reasonable rent and never unexpectedly or unfairly raising it), being respectful and trustworthy and maintaining good lines of communication.
This is where your letting agent can make life easier for you.
Tenants are impressed when all processes are documented and paperwork is ready to be signed. As a landlord, avoid telling your prospective tenants that you need to get back to them for necessary paperwork.
Showing a proactive response to urgent issues is important. Imagine yourself in your tenant’s position. Problems can arise that impact on quality of life such as leaks or hot water or central heating not working. Address the issue in a proactive way and at least give an indication of repair time. Not everything can be or needs to be resolved immediately, but show your tenant you understand the problem. Explain what’s going on, and how you’re dealing with the issue.
Keeping tenants in the loop provides a sense of assurance, and will encourage them to contact you if an issue affecting your property arises, often minimising inconvenience and expense for both parties.
While achieving the right market rent is important, when working through the rent review process, remember to keep in mind the value of a good long-term tenant. Void periods can sometimes negate the additional revenue generated by a rental increase.
Good landlords cultivate an atmosphere of respect by acting with professionalism, being fair and honest and keeping their distance. Leave your tenants to the quiet enjoyment of your property and only intervene if there’s a problem or the tenant asks you to get involved.
If you have these qualities, you should have good tenants, enabling you and/or your letting agent to manage your property smoothly and successfully.