How to Save Hundreds by Becoming a DIY Landlord

We were recently asked by LandlordZONE to write an article about the benefits of being a DIY landlord:

Being a DIY landlord doesn’t have to be difficult and can save you a fortune in fees.

With the advent of online letting agents, thousands of landlords are seizing the opportunity to take a more hands-on approach to their buy-to-let properties and reaping huge financial rewards.

Finding Tenants

First and foremost, you need to find tenants.  The most cost effective way to do this is by using an online letting agent, such as The Online Letting Agents.

Online letting agents help thousands of landlords to advertise and rent their properties every day.  Landlords benefit from their properties being advertised on the UK’s leading property websites and having access to expert advice from property specialists all for a hugely reduced rate.

Their services include comprehensive reference checking, which is at no cost to you (this is charged to the tenant, though usually an online agent’s referencing fee will be significantly less than a high street agent’s).  Some online agents even include a free contract.

Letting through an online letting agent is pretty straight forwards.  All you will need to do is prepare a short description of your property, take some photographs and have a good idea of the rental price you would like to achieve.

All of these are easily done and a good online agent will have property experts on hand to offer advice on how to get the best from property advertisement.

The benefit of using an online agent is that you accompany the viewings yourself.  This is extremely appealing to landlords as they can hand-pick the tenants they would like to live in their property rather than simply be given the tenants an agent chooses for them.

Starting Your Tenancy

Once you have found a good tenant, and reference checking has been completed, there’s just the matter of preparing an inventory which, although not mandatory, is a good idea.   You should bear in mind that the inventory will form the basis of any claim you have for deductions from the deposit, and as such, it should be thorough and include photographic evidence.  Your online letting agent will be able arrange for it to be done professionally should you wish, or they can give you all the help and advice you need should you want to do this yourself.

Deposits should be lodged in a deposit protection scheme, with the appropriate paperwork being supplied to the tenant.  Again, your online agent will be able to help you with this, and can certainly offer assistance if you wish to register the deposit yourself.

So, on the day your tenant moves in, you’re nearly there with only a few final things to do; collect the first month’s rent and deposit (if you haven’t already done this), ask the tenant to sign the tenancy agreement and  inventory and take meter readings.

During Your Tenancy

As a DIY landlord, you will no longer be required to pay a monthly fee to your letting agent for property management, representing huge savings over the term of the tenancy.  You will, however, need to do a few things yourself:

  • Collect the rent, usually by standing order
  • Check the property, usually every 3 to 6 months
  • Arrange for any on-going or ad hoc repairs
  • Make sure any safety certificates are up to date

Ending Your Tenancy

If, for any reason, you would like your tenant to leave the property, you will need to advise them in writing.  Your online agent will be able to advice of the most appropriate way to do this, and many will even be able to supply you with the appropriate document.

Alternatively, your tenants may serve you notice.  If this happens, simply get back in touch with your online letting agent and they’ll advise you what to do next, and get started on finding your next tenants straight away.

Letting Requirements

In order to let your property, regardless whether you use a traditional agent or online letting agent, there are a few things you will need to have in place.  This includes:

  • Permission from your lender to let the property (or a buy to let mortgage),
  • An appropriate landlord insurance policy,
  • An energy performance certificate
  • A gas safety certificate (if the property has gas)
  • Electrical safety checks, although these are not currently required by law

Being a DIY landlord can be very rewarding.  It gives you a truly hands-on approach to letting your property and allows you to decide on your tenants, tradesmen and rental amount, whilst giving a maximum return on your investment.  Using an online agent, such as The Online Letting Agents, means that you have support as and when you need it and allows you to save you hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.

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