What is a Responsible Landlord – Are you one?

What is a Responsible Landlord – Are you one?

I`m shocked at the number of times I hear a landlord saying they are a good landlord as they haven`t put the rent up for years and they last spoke to the tenant months ago. Worse they haven`t visited the property (their property!!) since the tenants moved in; so they have no idea of the state of the property nor how the tenants are feeling.

In essence, this is the very “old fashioned” style landlord that the government wants to stamp out. Being responsible means being proactive and aware of your tenants situation. Following my SWLA presentation, here are a few suggestions of what I consider are the most important aspects of being a Professional and Responsible Landlord – Someone who:

Takes References – previously covered in an earlier article, these are essential in knowing who is moving into your property and whether they can realistically afford the rent plus bills and still be able to live without putting themselves in financial hardship!

Knows their tenant – from the start of the tenancy through to the end, at whatever time that is – building up an ongoing rapport with your tenant is imperative, if you are going to have a positive relationship that works on trust and mutual respect. You must have a basic understanding of your tenant so you can be alert to any problems, either personal that will affect the rental payments, or the property which could lead to more costly bills!

Repairs promptly – many landlords are excellent at dealing with problems and it is only a few who ignore a tenant`s request for repairs. That`s not to say that the repairs are being done to a suitably decent standard, as often they are not. In the eyes of the government and coming down the road with the Decent homes Standard, there will be an expectation of the property being offered and kept in an acceptable condition to live in!

Reviews rent – so many older landlords forget or choose not to review the rents; this is unwittingly cruel as the tenant gets used to paying a lower market rent and when asked to leave they are unable to make the jump to the current market prices. Numerous landlords do not want to be greedy, but keeping the rent too low can have the reverse effect of the intended one at a future date. I would suggest for a good long term tenant the rent should be kept about 10% below the market figures; this way both parties feel that they are winning!

Mid term visits – why would you rent out a valuable possession and then not bother to check on it`s inhabitants nor the condition of the property? A mid term visit should be conducted as a minimum, annually, and more often if there are problems (NOT an inspection which is too intrusive). It enables a visual summary of the way the tenant is living and the condition of the property, and allows more opportunities for personal rapport building plus the ability to get a deeper understanding of your tenant. It is vital to put in writing anything that you see from the visit that either needs fixing or you require the tenant to deal with. This is your evidence at the end of the tenancy that you did visit and did request certain things to be done; so if not rectified you have written support if there is a deposit dispute!

Prompt communication – this wraps everything above into one package. Failure to undertake frequent and sensible communication, can undermine everything else that you consider you are doing well as a landlord. Keeping an open approach to your tenant will encourage early reporting of problems and generally help you as a landlord to manage your property to the standards that the government require!

There are many other aspects that could be included, but if the above suggestions are adopted and adhered to, being a “good “ landlord will become the norm and you will end up with a happy trusting tenant and a well maintained and looked after property – it really can be “win-win”!