Free Resources for UK Buy To Let Landlords
At Abode, we’ve worked with hundreds of landlords over the years at every stage of their careers. We know that being a landlord isn’t easy, so we’ve pulled together a library of free resources, tools and guides to help you.
These resources cover off everything from finding a property and preparing to let it through to collecting rent and finding good contractors for regular maintenance and repair. Within the guide you will find advice on:
- #1 - Buying Your First Property To Let
- #2 - Finding a Property Management Company
- #3 - Marketing Your Rental / Buy To Let Property
- #4 - Finding The Right Tenants
Buying Your First Property to Let
Researching Your Area
Before committing to buying a property to rent out, you should first do some research on your area. There are a number of free tools you can use to this:
- Research local schools and catchment areas.
- Research transport links and accessibility around the property.
- Take a walk round and get a feel for the local area.
- If you’re buying in an urbanised area, is their green space or parks nearby?
- What takeaways and food are avialable in the area? This is more improtant than you might think, load up Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats on your phone to see what options you are given.
- Talk to letting agencies and property management companies in the local area, we’re always happy to have an honest and open discussion about property choice – contact us here.
Deciding On a Property
Once you’ve decided on the area you wish to buy in, you should begin looking for properties. Here are a number of tools and guides to help you decide what property is best for your ideal type of tenant:
- Property features that attract young professionals.
- Furnishing a rental property for different types of tenants.
- What you need to know about letting to students.
- Best places to invest in student property.
When choosing a property, you may notice that there are several improvements you can put in place to improve it's rental value; remember to budget for this too!
Calculating Your Expected Rental Income
Once you’ve shortlisted a number of properties, you should calculate their rental yield to ensure they will be profitable enough to cover mortgage payments.
Use the tool below to compare house prices, sale prices and rental rates for different types of property in your desired area, this will give you an idea of how much rent you can expect to charge.
Buy To Let Mortgage Calculator
When it’s time to apply for a mortgage, be sure to shop around for the best deal. Here are a range of price comparison websites and handy calculators for a smooth application:
- Use the Which? Buy To Let Calculator to give you an idea of how much you may be able to borrow based on property price and expected rental income.
- Use comparison sites including compare the market, money supermarket and go compare to find the best deal on a buy to let mortgage.
- Check your credit rating before applying.
Free 2019 Stamp Duty Calculator for Landlords
2015’s Autumn Statement saw the introduction of a 3% additional rate of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for the purchase additional properties including buy to let properties, this is an excess cost that should be considered before purchasing a property.
The amount of stamp duty you pay is based on the price of your property and is applicable when a property costs over £125,000. Use the calculator below to get an estimate of how much stamp duty tax you will need to pay on the purchase of your buy to let property.
Finding a Property Management Company
From arranging viewings to carrying out regular maintenance in a non-intrusive way, landlords have a lot of responsibilities when it comes to keeping their properties filled and tenants happy.
Because of this, many landlords opt to use a property management company/agent, either to manage some or every aspect of their property. A good property management company is worth its weight in gold to landlords.
Here’s what you should look for in an approved property management company:
Choose An ARLA Approved Agent
ARLA Propertymark is the leading industry body for landlords and property management companies, the body’s key aim is to help landlords maximise and protect their investments.
When choosing a property management company, landlords should keep an eye out for the ARLA Propertymark logo. Some of the key reasons for using an ARLA Propertymark accredited agent are:
- Your money is protected by a Client Money Protection Scheme.
- ARLA Propertymark accredited agents must keep up to date with the latest property law and legislation, ensuring that landlords always receive up to date advice.
- ARLA Propertymark accredited agents are required to undertake extensive staff training and development.
- ARLA Propertymark accredited agents are required to adhere to a nationally recognised and properly audited code of conduct.
- You are protected by a redress scheme.
Read our blog post to find out more about the benefits of using an ARLA approved agent.
Tailored Levels of Service to Suit You
When using a property management company, you should have the freedom to choose how much involvement you have in letting and managing your properties; some landlords prefer to be an integral part of daily management, whilst others are happy to take a backseat and let a third party manage it on their behalf.
For this reason, you should look for a company that offers tailored level of service dependant on your requirements.
For example, we offer 5 unique levels of service for landlords, including everything from marketing and arranging viewings to key holding and arranging quarterly property inspections:
|Expert advice and guidance|
|Valuation of your rental property|
|Marketing and photography|
|Right to Rent checks|
|Right to Rent check follow ups|
|Standing orders/payment set up|
|Organising Gas and PAT Test|
|Confirmation Tenants have received gas and EPC|
|Registering deposit into a scheme|
|Prescribed Information relating to Deposit|
|How to rent Guides|
|Obtaining initial deposit and rent|
|Informing services and utilities:|
-Council Tax (authority)
|Monthly rent collection|
|Monthly rental statements|
|Tenant check out|
|Arranging deposit deductions|
|Quarterly property inspections|
|Arranging property maintenance|
|Yearly tax return statements|
|Payment of contractor invoices|
|Legionnaires risk assessment|
|Smoke detector install and test|
|Carbon monoxide install and test|
Find out more about our landlord property management service
Established Company with Local Knowledge
Using an established and local agency is imperative when it comes to running and managing a successful property portfolio.
Not only will you benefit from their reputation in the area allowing your properties to get seen by more relevant people, but their knowledge on what’s selling well in the area, local trends, hotspots and up and coming areas will guide you when making future decisions.
Additionally, local companies are more likely to have closer relationships with local trades to get you better deals, as well as being located in closer proximity to your properties to get things done quicker and more efficiently.
At Abode, we’ve built our reputation in Bristol over the last from our office on Whiteladies Road - we don’t run our company from the 10th floor in the city centre. We’re proud to be local and all of our experienced team know have a working knowledge of Bristol’s property scene.
Look For Good Online Reviews
Some property management companies have a bad reputation for neglecting properties, being unfair with rent and failing to fulfil tenant requests. When this happens, it can really damage your reputation as a landlord.
Before choosing a property management company, check out their reviews online including Google, Trustpilot, social media platforms, local directories and agent-specific platforms such as all agents. Whilst the star rating is the key metric (look for 3* or above minimum), you should also take note of how many reviews there are, and what those reviews say.
At Abode, we strive to deliver the best possible service we can for our landlords and their tenants.
Marketing Your Buy To Let Property
property left vacant is not an option for landlords. However, without proper strategies in place, it can be difficult to attract visibility and interest in your property.
Here are some of the best methods of marketing your rental property to the right tenants.
Market To The Right Audience
All the marketing in the world won't bring prospective tenants in if it’s targeted to the wrong audience. In addition to marketing to people in the right location, you should ensure that the property you’re offering has features that attract the types of tenants in your area that you want to market to, be these young professionals, families, elderly renters or students.
- Some other factors that will determine who your target audience includes:
- The features within your property, young professionals prefer a desk in a quiet workspace whereas families will prefer open
- Is your property furnished or unfurnished?
- What is the monthly rent in your property?
- Are you looking for long or short term tenancies?
- What is the neighbourhood like?
- Is your property located close to transport links, does it have adequate parking?
- Is your property located near a school?
When carrying out local research as part of purchasing your buy to let property, you should have a reasonable knowledge of the types of people that live in the area and what kind of rental property they are looking for. If you’re struggling, join some local community groups, ask a local expert for advice, check out online forums or just ask your neighbours and others in the local area.
Use Online Property Marketing Platforms
As sellers use online platforms such as Amazon and eBay to sell their stock, property can be listed on high profile online platforms to significantly increase exposure. The most popular platforms are:
Whilst most of these have free options, they are not always available to private landlords, so you may need to pay to get your property live. You will also find that when using a property management company to manage your property, they have premium access to these platforms and list the property on your behalf as well on their own website property list.
In order to maximise exposure to your property, ensure you attract the right prospective tenants and reduce the need to answer countless questions, it’s important that you make your property listing as detailed as possible. Here are our top tips for a winning rental property listing:
- Include high quality photographs – consider hiring a professional photographer.
- Include photographs of the front and rear of the house, all rooms and any key features or defects that prospective tenants should be aware of.
- Write a catchy headline that mentions the key features of the property.
- Use the description to talk about the property features, the neighbourhood and what’s nearby.
- List the parking arrangement, council tax bracket and EPC rating of the property.
- List the furnishing that comes with the property (especially if they differ from the photos).
- Ensure the monthly rental asking price is clear and prominent.
Use Social Media
Social media is a fairly new but powerful advertising feature for promoting properties. Facebook could be considered the most effective of the main players, but you can also use Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn dependant on where your target market spends their time online.
To maximise exposure of your posts, ensure your profile isn’t private, share them in local groups, ask friends in the area to share them, use the marketplace feature (Facebook only) and consider paying to increase the reach of your posts.
If you have a portfolio of properties, you may consider creating a business page to showcase all your properties in one place and increase their visibility without prospective tenants needing to be your friend or within your social circle.
Streamline Your Viewings Process
With all marketing channels working unanimously, you’ll need to ensure that your viewings process is streamlined to prevent any disappointment and ensure the tenants you are attracting are right for your property. Our top tips for a streamlined viewings process are:
- Ask some pre-screening questions to tenants before viewings to ensure your property is what they are looking for. For example, if you don’t allow dogs, make sure a potential tenant knows this before turning up for a viewing.
- Keep in touch with prospective tenants throughout the process, send them a reminder email or phone call to ensure they turn up on time.
- Create a pre-viewing document which includes travel information for getting to the property.
- Have an agenda which covers off all the key areas of the property.
- Leave some time between viewings incase things overrun or someone is late/early.
- Keep in touch with prospective tenants after the viewing.
- Consider using an online booking system to manage viewings.
Finding The Right Tenants
For any landlord new or old, it can be tempting to accept any tenants that show an interest in renting your property, but rogue tenants can cost landlords thousands in property repairs and legal action.
Having good tenants makes life much easier for landlords and can make letting a property a pleasant experience for both parties. Here’s how you can effectively screen tenants before allowing them to rent your property.
Check Their Right to Rent
Before deciding if a tenant is right for your property, you’ll need to confirm that they are legally allowed to rent, this is done through a Right to Rent check.
Failure to carry out these checks and allowing someone to rent your property who is not allowed to stay in England carries an unlimited fine and even prison time. If you’re not using a letting agent, here are a number of useful resources to ensure you get right to rent checks correct:
- Right to Rent downloadable guide
- Information on Right to Rent follow-ups
- Right to Rent downloadable declaration form
Carry Out Tenants Checks
In order to find reliable tenants, proper tenant checks should be carried out before a tenancy agreement is put in place. As well as ensuring the credit has no financial problems, thorough tenant checks will unearth any problems with previous landlords. Your tenant check should include:
- Financial documents – these will give you proof that the tenant can afford the rent. You may ask to see an employment contract, recent payslip, recent bank statement or letter from an employer confirming that they are currently in work.
- Credit checks – Credit checks are another financial safeguard to check for any problems with paying bills, in order to carry out a credit check, you’ll need to pay a small fee to a platform such as Equifax.
- References – After you know a tenant has the financial means to rent your property, you should acquire references from previous landlords to ensure they are trustworthy.
If a tenant is not able to supply a reference from a previous landlord, it doesn’t mean that they are untrustworthy; It could just be that the previous landlord has been difficult to contact, or that the prospective tenant has never rented before.
In these scenarios, you may wish to contact the prospective tenant’s employer for a reference or have them provide a previous tenancy agreement and historical bank statements to show rent being paid on time.
Ask for a Guarantor
In scenarios where the prospective renter is a first-time renter, it will not be possible to acquire a reference from a landlord and you may find that a credit check comes back with a poor score by default as the would-be tenant has limited financial history.
In these scenarios, it is wise to ask for a guarantor, this could be a parent or other relative that agrees to pay the rent or cover damage to the property if the tenant cannot.
To prevent any disputes, you should ensure that the guarantee agreement is referenced just like the tenant and that a tenant guarantor form is signed by both parties agreeing the terms.