Guest author Graham Davidson, Managing Director of buy to let property investment company Sequre, shares his thoughts on routine tasks buy to let landlords need to be especially mindful of:
Apart from the obvious things that landlords must keep on top of, such as regularly inspecting their property and ensuring payments are coming in on time, there are other important aspects that must be dealt with. For example, taking a comprehensive inventory of the property before it is let out to tenants. This will provide a detailed list of the contents, but of equal importance is the current condition of the property and its contents as well. Failure to do this could lead to disagreements at a later date regarding damages or uncertainty over which contents were originally present in the property.
A buy to let investor of ours let out his own house and forgot to take a full inventory. When the tenants vacated 12 months later he realised that the carpets had been damaged and needed replacing and some of the wallpaper was torn. However, he had no way of reclaiming the money to cover these damages because he had nothing to prove the condition of the property before the tenants moved in and the law tends to work in favour of the tenant.
It can be easy to forget that landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure gas appliances, fittings and flues are tested for safety on an annual basis – even if a property is only rented for a short period at a time. Gas equipment should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions by a registered engineer, and a record of a gas test must be supplied to tenants within 28 days or to new tenants as they move in.
If your tenant has installed a gas appliance that wasn’t listed on the original inventory, it is not your responsibility to test this, but you must make sure the piping is safe. It is also worthwhile fitting a Carbon Monoxide alarm at your property for additional safety; these can be fitted for as little as £30 – a small price to pay! More information on a landlord’s gas responsibilities can be found here.
Buy to let landlords who take care to keep their finances in order will stay on the right side of the law and can also save money in the process. Keeping accurate details of rental income and evidence of expenditure are essential for when it comes to preparing your self assessment tax return.
In our experience, a surprisingly high percentage of landlords end up paying more tax than is necessary because they haven’t researched the different expenses they are able to claim for, usually costs like phone line and internet use, or because they have not kept evidence of their costs. A bit of simple research and a checklist system to ensure records are retained can save landlords money in the long run.
Graham Davidson is a property investor who has spent 20 years working for estate agencies specialising in corporate lets and sales, and is now the Managing Director of high-yield buy to let specialists, Sequre Property Investment – www.sequre.co.uk
Sequre Property Investment specialises in the provision of discounted, high-income producing, buy-to-let property in a number of major UK cities, including London, Manchester and Liverpool. Sequre provides an expert acquisition and investment service to individuals ranging from first time property investors to those with portfolios worth several million pounds.