Thankfully we have come a long way from the situation portrayed in the image above! However, these days it seems that buy to let (BTL) landlords are persona non grata. It is certainly true that there are some bad landlords out there who give the rest of us a bad name by not properly maintaining their properties and for falsely evicting their tenants. However, the vast majority of BTL landlords do look after their properties and treat their tenants with the respect that they rightly deserve.

One of the keys to successful residential property investment is to keep your tenants happy.

One of the first tips I give to anyone thinking of investing in residential property (apart from buying shares in Somerset Estates REIT obviously!) is:

“avoid voids”

Having an empty property within your portfolio, however large the portfolio might be, can have a serious impact on profits.  What is the best way to keep properties occupied? By keeping tenants happy and therefore reducing their need to move out.

When entering into a tenancy agreement, the landlord and tenant are agreeing to an ongoing relationship. The landlord ensures that the property is in good working order at the start of the tenancy and that all repairs during the tenancy are fixed in a timely manner. The tenant agrees to pay the landlord monthly rent and to keep the property in good working order. It is ostensibly a legal relationship; however, it can go wrong very quickly. For example, if repairs are not made on time, or the landlord does not give the tenant enough notice prior to an inspection, or the tenant is regularly late in paying their rent.

Problems happen, there is no avoiding it. Therefore, proper communication between the landlord and tenant is key to a successful relationship.

In my experience, some tenants are reluctant to let their landlord know when there is a maintenance issue. In addition, from time to time everyone can experience issues with paying rent on time, that is life. I would like to think that most landlords would be accepting of late rent payments every now and then as long as they are informed by the tenant. There is nothing more annoying for a landlord to have to chase rent and not being told when it is going to be paid. It is much better for both sides to be fully open when an issue occurs.

It is crucial that the landlord makes it as easy as possible for their tenants to raise any maintenance or similar issues.

Small allowances can go a long way to keeping a tenant happy. Landlords could consider offering longer tenancies so that their tenants feel more secure in the property, this is something we are bringing in for all our properties. It is important for the landlord to be able to do the small stuff that is expected on them efficiently and quickly.

Good tenants are hard to find so when you do, make sure they are happy, it will save you in the long run

PS…Section 21 Notices

I will save my thoughts on the proposed removal of the use of Section 21 notices to evict tenants for when the changes are fully announced. One thing I will say is that issuing a Section 21 notice is usually a last resort for a landlord and is only used when the landlord tenant relationship has broken down. With the proposed changes it is now more important than ever to maintain a good landlord and tenant relationship in order to avoid being left with an empty property or unhappy tenants.