Inheriting a property can feel like an overwhelming amount of pressure, especially when you consider it may have come from a loved one who has only recently passed away. In these circumstances, it’s important to decide early whether you’re going to embrace your new role as a landlord or put the property on the market.
This is a pretty big consideration and whether you’ve had time to prepare or not, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, we’re all familiar with the idea of being a landlord, but what do the day to day duties and responsibilities look like?
In this article, we’ll look at what you should expect from becoming a landlord and how you can reduce any extra burden this places on you.
6 Landlord Responsibilities You Need to Know
On the face of it, becoming a landlord can seem like a pretty simple task. You find a tenant, sign some paperwork and collect the rent, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy. Alongside the responsibility of keeping your property in good shape, landlords also take on a number of legal and safety responsibilities.
For new landlords, this can be a little intimidating but don’t worry. Once we’ve covered the key responsibilities you need to be aware of, we’ll tell you how to make being a landlord easy.
If you want to be a happy landlord, you need to have happy tenants, and that means giving them a great place to live. So, when something needs to be fixed, you need to have the time and connections to do so quickly. If you don’t you may lose reliable tenants.
This includes repairs on everything including the kitchen sink but here’s a broad idea of what you’ll need to look after:
- The property’s structure and exterior
- Basins, sinks, baths and sanitary-ware fittings such as drains and piping
- Gas and electrical appliances
It’s all very well and good managing a property when it has tenants in it, but how do you go about attracting them in the first place? Research has shown that it takes, on average, 22 days to fill a vacant home, and that’s with some experience.
If you’re unsure of how to market your property it could take longer and put a serious dent in your profits. Here are a few marketing considerations to consider:
- Do you have access to property portals like Rightmove or Zoopla?
- Do you know how to value your property and charge the right price?
- Can you take professional photos to showcase your property?
3. Health and Safety
As a landlord, you’re responsible for providing a safe environment for your tenants. That means it needs to be free from any hazards and secure.
Aside from the obvious ethical reasons for wanting to provide a safe environment for your tenants, you also need to do so if you want to avoid serious fines or worse. For example, a landlord was fined £214,000 for inadequate safety measures.
Below are some of the safety measures you need to consider but it is in no way an exhaustive list, so if you’re unsure about what your obligations are, speak to a professional management company as soon as possible.
- Sockets and light fittings are safe and checked on a regular basis
- Ensuring gas equipment is installed safely and maintained by a registered engineer
- You must make sure that all supplied appliances are safe to use such as cookers and kettles
- A safe exit route must be provided in the event of a fire.
Even if you think your property is safe, you still need a registered professional to agree. That means you need to ensure you have the correct certification for various elements of your property.
- Ensuring that you hold a valid Gas Safety Certificate (CP12), which needs to be completed every year.
- An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is also recommended (and in some cases required) to show that a registered electrician has assessed the electrical installation of your property.
- Having an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to show how energy efficient your property, which needs to be completed every 10 years.
5. Keeping Up with the Law
As you’re probably starting to realise, there are a number of regulations and responsibilities that come with being a landlord and the penalties can be pretty strong.
However, to make this a little more complicated, the laws around being a landlord are updated regularly. For example, June 2019 saw the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act, which greatly limits what landlords can charge for.
Unless you have the time to keep up with these legal changes, it’s easy to fall foul of the law without realising it.
6. Setting Up a Buy-to-Let
So far, we’ve considered the responsibilities of a landlord in managing a rental property, but what about setting one up? This is especially important if you’re intending to rent out a property that was not previously used as a buy-to-let.
If you are going to turn a home into a rental, you’ll need to make a couple of changes, most notably to your mortgage. You may also consider reviewing the insurance you have on the property to provide you with greater cover.
What Are the Benefits of Taking on This Extra Responsibility?
So we’ve spoken about the responsibilities of being a landlord, but what do you gain from having all of that work?
It goes without saying that one of the main reasons people want to become a landlord is the extra income it can generate. If you’ve inherited a property you can increase your monthly earnings greatly.
This can, therefore, provide long-term security, and if the housing market is kind to you when you do come to sell, your property could have even increased in value.
Becoming a landlord is hard work. However, if you want to make a full-time job of it, at least you have plenty of flexibility to suit your lifestyle. So long as you have the right contacts in the area, you can even be the landlord for a property that’s hundreds of miles from you.
In short, you get to be your own boss. If you’re happy researching the market yourself to set correct rents and can find your own legal documents, then you can enjoy your professional career on your terms.
Unfortunately, rental income isn’t immune to tax but to help landlords along, there are a number of tax deductions available. It goes without saying that when it comes to tax, a lot of different factors come into play.
If you’re unsure of what options you have when it comes to being a tax-friendly landlord, ensure you speak to a professional accountant or tax advisor.
Everyone’s looking for a way to grow their assets and wealth while limiting risk. Since house prices can go down as well as up, owning property isn’t a completely risk-free investment, but over the long-term, it’s more secure than similar investment types.
So, owning property is a good way to grow your wealth and ensure you have a well-stocked retirement fund.
How to Have Your Cake and Eat It
As you’re probably starting to tell, becoming a landlord comes with a host of responsibilities and benefits.
But is there any alternative to taking on all of this responsibility yourself and enjoying the benefits without the burdens? The answer is yes. You really can have your cake and eat it.
We all live extremely busy lives, and every so often it makes sense to bring in a little outside help.
So, what help is available?
Landlords with property portfolios of all shapes and sizes regularly use a management team to take care of all the legwork for them.
These services range from the basic, such as sourcing tenants for you and managing some of the paperwork to the all-inclusive, which means you don’t have to worry about anything, including sorting maintenance issues.
This means you can tell your management team how involved you would or wouldn’t like to be, so you can be as hands-on or hands-off as you want to be.
If you’re unsure of how involved you want to be a good place to start is with what packages are available. To help you decide what’s right for you, let’s look at two examples.
If you’re happy looking after the day-to-day management of your property but want a little support when it comes to filling vacancies quickly, a Let Only package could suit you. This typically includes:
- A free, no-obligation valuation to determine what you should charge
- Marketing on top property sites
- Comprehensive reference and credit checks for prospective tenants
- Lodging of the deposit with DPS
- Overseeing of check-in
On the other hand, if you don’t want to deal with the management of your tenants once they’re in, you can opt for a more inclusive option. These packages usually include:
- Collection and monitoring of monthly rental payments
- Periodic property inspections and reports
- Handling of all tenant inquiries and issues
- Emergency repairs
- Insurance to guarantee rent should a tenant fail to pay
If you’ve just inherited property and been thrust into the position of a landlord, you may be a little worried about the extra responsibilities placed on your shoulders.
Don’t be, though! With the help of an experienced property manager, you can minimise the stress without having to give up the extra income.
If you’ve recently inherited a property in the Greater Manchester area or are likely to in the future, a good first step is to speak with an expert about your options.
Get in touch with the best lettings agents in Manchester today, and we can help you put a plan in place that will make your new career as a landlord as stress-free as possible.
We’ll even help ensure you’re making the most of your new property by giving you a free lettings valuation!