19:01 PM, 6th February 2011, About 12 years ago
Often people seem to think that being a landlord is money for old rope. “Landlords! They just sit there doing nothing and collect the money as it comes rolling in!” That’s the popular view.
Of course it’s not true! So what does it take to be a landlord? And is it something YOU could do? Here are a few questions for you.
Being a landlord today means being knowledgeable with rules and regulations. Repairing covenants, tenancy deposit regulations, gas regulations, they are all there, waiting to trip you up and get you into trouble. You need to know what you are doing and you need to be sure what you are doing is right. Generally, this means keeping careful records and being able to find them again when you need them.
There are a number of ways of doing this. Some people will use a system of folders and filing cabinets – paper records. Others will keep everything electronically on their computers. Others may take this further and have special property management software. But whatever system you set up, you must use it.
Are you good with people?
To be a successful landlord you need to be good with people. When choosing tenants you need to be able to sum them up quickly and accurately, and choosing good tenants is one of THE most important aspects of being a landlord. You also need to be able to deal with them when things go wrong. For example, if they only have limited financial resources you need to persuade them to pay your rent first!
Landlording is a service industry and your tenants are your customers. You need to treat them right, and keep them happy. Then they will stay with you (avoiding voids) and recommend you to their friends (helping you minimise agents fees).
How much time have you got?
Being a landlord can be a time consuming business. It is true that there are some lucky landlords who don’t see or have any contact with their tenants from one year to the next, apart from the money dropping into their bank account every month.
However, there are many more landlords who get called up in the middle of the night because their tenants have lost their keys, or because they want you to come round and fix the shower. Someone has got to be available to do this sort of thing – is this going to be you?
Are you prepared to deal with the problems?
Some landlords are lucky and things go well for them. However others are not. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. For example:
These situations generally mean that you will have to bring proceedings for possession while you are not getting any (or not much) rent.
So you can see that it is not all plain sailing.
If you decide that this is not for you, it doesn’t mean you can’t invest in property – it just means you will need to have an agent to look after it for you, although that too can be problematic if you don’t choose the right agent.
Landlord Law has a lot of the resources which landlords need – tenancy agreements and other documents, FAQ on legal rules and regulations, and me on hand in the forum to explain tricky points. However even so, you need to think very carefully before taking on the duties of a landlord.
If you want to read more, I have a special section of my Landlord Law site just for you. It is called The New Landlords Guide and goes into more detail on the stuff I have been discussing above, together with guidance on how to choose a good letting agent. Oh, and it’s free!