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There are several reasons why you might be considering becoming a landlord. Perhaps you’re moving away for work but don’t want to sell your home, or you may have inherited a property from a relative and want to generate a monthly income from it.

Whatever your reasons for becoming a landlord, the following guide will help you answer the question of how to get started.

1. Being a Landlord is a Business

Many people find themselves thinking that if they had the money, they’ll just buy a few houses to rent out and live a stress-free life off the income.

While this is great in theory, it’s very rarely this straightforward. Being a landlord and owning rental property doesn’t just mean waiting for the rent to flood in each month. There are taxes to pay, tenants to deal with and maintenance costs to consider.

It can be a great source of income, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s an easy way to make a fortune with very little work. It can be just as demanding as running an actual business.

2. Is Your Property Suitable to Rent Out?

It’s not just a case of buying a property, sticking it online and waiting for the first tenant to come along.

Before you consider becoming a landlord it’s important to do some research into the rental market. Many towns and cities are rental hotspots with potentially excellent returns, while others may be a bit flat with far less demand for rental properties.

On that note, take a look to see how much other similar properties are being rented out, as this will give you a good indication of your potential returns.

Another thing to consider when it comes to suitability is the condition of your property. If you’re planning to move away and rent your property out then you’ll need to make sure all those little odd jobs and minor issues that you’ve been delaying have been fixed before tenants move in.

The last thing you’ll want when you’ve just moved out is to be taking phone calls about broken fences, unserviced boilers or drafty windows.

3. Work Out Your Monthly Costs – Including Void Periods

While rental properties can be lucrative, they can also very quickly become a drain on your finances too, so it’s important to take into account all of the costs that you’ll incur before deciding whether becoming a landlord is right for you.

If the property is mortgaged then this will be your single biggest cost each month, and you’ll need to factor in potential void periods where the property is empty.

During these periods you’ll have costs such as council tax and utility bills to consider, so it’s important that you work out how much all of these expenses will add up to each month.

And not forgetting you’ll need some ‘rainy day’ money put aside for those one off costs, such as a new boiler or windows.

4. Check if You Can Rent Your Property Out

Depending on your mortgage agreement, to be able to rent out your property you may need to switch to a ‘buy to let’ mortgage.

Similarly if you bought your property under a shared ownership scheme then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to rent that out without speaking to the housing association first either.

Put simply, it’s best to check with your mortgage provider in advance, as you don’t want to run into trouble further down the line.

5. Consider How You Want Your Property to be Marketed

Some of the things you’ll need to consider when marketing your property include clauses for pets, whether to allow smoking or vaping and whether to rent the property as furnished or unfurnished.

You’ll also need to decide whether to rent through a lettings agent or do it privately. Using a lettings agent will mean an additional expense each month, but this option has the advantage of taking a lot of the stress out of dealing with tenants directly and finding tenants yourself, so it will ultimately make your life a bit easier.

6. Check Your Legal Responsibilities

Last but certainly not least, you’ll need to be aware of the legal responsibilities that come with renting out a property.

There are several criteria that you’ll need to meet, including making sure the property is fit for human habitation, having a gas and electrical safety check carried out every year, having an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) in place and having smoke and carbon monoxide alarms fitted and functioning.

Want to become a landlord? Warren Powell-Richards are your local property experts

How to prepare your home and garden for autumn

A rare warm breeze is a playful reminder that we are now into autumn, the summer months having passed us by.

Blue skies peppered with clouds will seemingly quickly turn to rain. Mornings start with wet ground underfoot, while the nights are already drawing in and the streetlights in and around Godalming will be glowing earlier. Children are collecting conkers, and while some of us relish the walks through the fallen golden leaves, others might be looking forward to snuggling down at home in the warmth.

It’s the perfect time to get our homes and gardens in order, ready for the rest of autumn, the slow onset of winter and the cold, snowy weather it often brings.

So, we’ve put together six things you should be doing right now to prepare your home and garden for the weeks ahead.

Store your garden furniture

You may already have been prepared and put all your summer items away, but some of us just haven’t got around to it yet, reluctant to say goodbye to the slim chance of just one more warm and sunny day! It’s a job that must be done though, so make sure that your patio furniture is stored away in a garage or a shed, or at least has a protective sheet over it. Chances are, you will have spent a few pounds on the furniture so you should look after it.

Top Tip: Give your garden furniture a good scrub before storing, as not only will it mean things are clean, it means you won’t have to spend time doing it when you bring your furniture out of hibernation in spring next year.

Don’t leaf it too late! (Sorry! We couldn’t resist!)

Many trees and plants have now shed their leaves, and you might love the look and sound of those crunchy piles as they mount up against a wall or fence, but it’s best to sweep all the fallen debris up before it begins to rot and leaves an unsightly mess in your garden. Similarly, ensure your gutters are free from mud, leaves and twigs.

Top Tip: Invest in a composter. That way, you have somewhere nearby to put garden clippings and leaves in, and, if managed carefully, you’ll have the beginnings of great compost.

Check your pipes and drains

As the days become colder, it makes perfect sense to make sure that you don’t get any headaches from broken pipes or blocked drains. With drains, ensure that they are not blocked by leaves or soil. With pipes, it’s best to ensure that they are well insulated. It’s also recommended that you keep your heating at set temperatures, even if you are away from home so that pipes don’t keep contracting and expanding, making them prone to damage.

Top Tip: Landlords who let out properties have a duty by law to have gas safety checks and boiler checks, but it’s easy for homeowners to skip an annual service. It makes sense to us here at Warren Powell-Richards for every homeowner to make sure their heating and boilers are in good working condition. It’s safer and more efficient, saving the pennies.

Ensure insurance is in place

No matter what you do, sometimes things go wrong, and it can prove costly. Through no fault of your own, harsh weather conditions in winter can mean leaks, breaks and cracks can happen. Check that your insurance is in place and that it covers you for everything you need.

Top Tip: As you’re checking your insurance cover, take the time to do an audit of other bits and bobs of paperwork too. Perhaps your car insurance needs looking at, or you need to renew policies or update your will. Seriously, spending time doing essential paperwork can save you money and heartache.

Sound the alarm

With the coming cold weather, chances are you’ll be spending more time indoors – the kettle is on, the fire is roaring, candles are lit, the heating’s on. While you’re indoors, you need to know you are safe, and that if anything should happen, you will be quite literally alarmed. Get a smoke alarm fitted, and a carbon monoxide alarm too. A few pounds spent could save your life.

Top Tip: If you’ve got your alarms sorted, do you have a plan of what happens if one sounds? Make sure you and your family know what they should do in the event of a fire or other emergency, including escape routes.

Seal up for winter

No matter how new your house may be, a little gap here and there can let in drafts – and allow heat to get out. Make sure your insulation is good and do any work to make sure doors close properly, or gaps in window frames are sealed. It’ll keep you warm and save you money.

Top Tip: A nice draft excluder by the front door can actually add to your decor. If you’ve got children, perhaps they would like to make a draught excluder out of old clothes and textiles as a fun project!

These are just a few tips to help you prepare your home and garden for autumn and winter. If you would like any more advice, we will be more than happy to help. Call a member of our team at Warren Powell-Richards

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