In­side in­for­ma­tion on se­crets of start­ing a buy-to-let op­er­a­tion that makes money

Award-win­ning in­vestor and let­ting agent San­dra Wid­dring­ton gives some per­sonal ad­vice for would-be land­lords.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

THE first piece of ad­vice I was given was to buy the worst house in the best street and if you would not live there your­self, do not ex­pect any­one else to live in the prop­erty and pay rent.

I have al­ways ad­hered to this ad­vice and made sure that all my prop­er­ties are to a good stan­dard.

You must also care­fully re­search the area where you want to buy your prop­erty. You can ei­ther do this your­self or ask a spe­cial­ist let­ting agent to pro­vide ad­vice on the best lo­ca­tion and type of prop­erty that will eas­ily rent out. If you plan to re­search the mar­ket your­self, be very care­ful when speak­ing to lo­cal es­tate agents as they could try to sell you old stock.

Search lo­cal news­pa­pers and the in­ter­net for prop­er­ties and try to speak to ex­ist­ing land­lords for their ad­vice and to the lo­cal author­ity, as they can help with de­tails about the de­mand for and sup­ply of rental prop­erty.

You should also look at how close the prop­erty is to lo­cal ameni­ties such as shops, trans­port and schools, and ask your­self: “Are these the type of ameni­ties that are im­por­tant to your prospec­tive ten­ants?”

If you are aim­ing to let your prop­erty to a fam­ily with schoolage chil­dren, how close the near­est schools are, will be an im­por­tant in­flu­ence on where they choose to rent.

When you find a rental prop­erty you should ar­range to look round it. Never buy sight un­seen, as some did in the buyto-let boom.

Make sure it is what you need and as­sess whether you will have to spend any ad­di­tional money on re­pairs or dec­o­ra­tion.

This needs to be added into the ask­ing price and so your of­fer needs to take this into ac­count.

When you have com­pleted on the home and pick up the keys you need to think about what is re­quired for a rental prop­erty.

This is where most land­lords fall down as they try to put their own mark on the place and carry out works to suit their own life­style. This can make it com­pletely un­suit­able for ten­ants and my ad­vice is to keep it sim­ple.

The ba­sic re­quire­ments are car­pets, cur­tains, light fit­tings and a cooker. Any­thing else, ie, wash­ing ma­chine, fridge­freezer or dish­washer are an ex­tra.

My own in­vest­ment prop­er­ties are all of a sim­i­lar stan­dard. They all have cen­tral heat­ing, qual­ity car­pets and neu­tral walls, a good, mod­ern kitchen with oven, hob and ex­trac­tor fan, a con­tem­po­rary white bath­room suite with shower and eas­ily main­tained gar­dens, plus park­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

If you want to give your prop­erty to an agent to man­age then en­sure that they are mem­bers of ARLA (As­so­ci­a­tion of Res­i­den­tial Let­ting Agents).

This en­sures they have the nec­es­sary knowl­edge and are up to date with the lat­est leg­is­la­tion. Also, if there are any prob­lems with rent, ten­ants or the con­di­tion of the prop­erty they have the ex­per­tise to deal with them.

If you de­cide to man­age the rental prop­erty your­self, make sure you get ref­er­ences for the prospec­tive ten­ant and be very thor­ough as this could save com­pli­ca­tions fur­ther down the line.

Also, re­mem­ber you must, by law, de­posit the bond in the cor­rect man­ner with a Govern­ment ap­proved scheme. You can­not keep the bond your­self.

Next, you need to keep a close eye on the rent pay­ments and any prob­lems must be ad­dressed im­me­di­ately.

As soon as the rent is two months in ar­rears, the cor­rect pa­per­work must be is­sued and 14 days’ no­tice given to the ten­ant for all out­stand­ing rent and you must make them aware that oth­er­wise manda­tory pos­ses­sion can be sought from the courts.

This is where a good qual­i­fied let­ting agent comes into play.

Land­lords must treat the rental prop­erty as a busi­ness and not a char­ity. Be­ing a land­lord is not for the faint hearted, you need to be firm but fair and fol­low all the leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tions. It is not a short-term money mak­ing plan ei­ther. You need to be in for the long haul.

At the moment, in­ter­est rates are low and cap­i­tal growth is stag­nant, whereas be­fore it was higher in­ter­est rates but good cap­i­tal growth.

To sum it all up, I’d say that the art of be­ing a good land­lord is lis­ten­ing to the ten­ant, ask­ing a fair rent and deal­ing with any main­te­nance is­sues as soon as they are re­ported. It sounds sim­ple, but get­ting it right takes a lot of ef­fort.

San­dra Wid­dring­ton is owner of Jig­saw Let­ting, Selby: 01757 241123. www.jig­sawlet­

IN­VEST­MENT OP­POR­TU­NITY: It is im­por­tant to buy prop­er­ties that are in a suit­able area.

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