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What would your ideal landlord be like?

(61 Posts)
BayLeaves Mon 05-Feb-18 22:01:55

We are moving abroad and renting out our house here in the UK, long term/permanently. We're not investors, just homeowners, and never been landlords before now.

We have just found tenants - a really nice family. Just wondered what can we do to be 'good' landlords? What would your ideal landlord be like?! Obviously making sure the house is in good nick, nothing broken etc.

Do you think a bottle of Prosecco left in the house to celebrate moving in would be appreciated? Just want to get the landlord-tenant relationship off to a happy start really.

endofthelinefinally Mon 05-Feb-18 22:03:22

Make sure you employ a really good, professional agent to manage the property and look after the tenants.

venys Mon 05-Feb-18 22:07:02

Prosecco would be nice but not necessary. I think keep the house maintained, fix things that are broken in a timely manner and just be professional, approachable and rational. Use an agency to manage the property as they can get tradies quickly for repairs (you might struggle on your own ). We had tenants once that when they moved out, they recommended us as landlords to their friends. That was a first!

carriewintermeadow Mon 05-Feb-18 22:09:20

A cleaner before the tenants move in;
A list of local takeaways would be useful;
Lightshades and light bulbs.

BayLeaves Mon 05-Feb-18 22:24:44

Ah, we were going to manage it ourselves as the agency fees were so steep and it's our only property... I hope it won't be an issue. I do have a family member in the building trade who is able to help find the right tradesman for the job when something needs fixing. I am not sure if I should put the tenants in touch directly with him or whether I should give them our email address as well and just have him as an extra/emergency contact.

BayLeaves Mon 05-Feb-18 22:27:55

Definitely getting the whole house cleaned including carpet and oven cleaning before they move in... the flip side of this is that we expect them to return it to that state when we leave, if that's reasonable?

As it's a reasonably large/higher price range property, not a small flat, the kind of tenants who will live here should be in a financial situation to afford a professional end of tenancy clean when they move out... that's normal right?

endofthelinefinally Mon 05-Feb-18 22:30:14

I would never risk not employing a professional agent.
Typically they charge about 10% but the legal protection you get is worth it.
They do all the financial checks, hold spare keys, ensure rent is paid, deal with any urgent issues and keep an eye on your property including inspections.
How can you do all that if you are abroad?
You need peace of mind.

DonnyAndVladSittingInATree Mon 05-Feb-18 22:36:06

My landlord is pretty awesome.

She let the house through an agent but met me before agreeing the tenancy, asked if there was anything I needed done in the house before moving in. I requested a shower head over the bath and it was done, no problem. She is a really nice person really. She got me a little candle as a moving in present. A very nice touch I thought. She travels a lot but is always available by email and responds within 24 hours to any correspondence. She will always let me know ahead of time when she is going away, when she is returning and how to contact her whilst away. Repairs have always been done as fast as she can sort them. I don’t think I’ve waited longer than a day for a tradesman. She renews my contract every year for another year. I like having that security. Every rental I’ve lived in before went on to a monthly one after the first 6 months. She does an annual inspection when renewing the contract but otherwise I don’t see her. I never want to leave this house.

DonnyAndVladSittingInATree Mon 05-Feb-18 22:39:13

Oh, when I moved in she had put together a pack with all her contact details, her husband’s details, her sisters details, (just in case) the agents details, some trades men’s numbers and all the instruction guides and warranty’s for all the alliances.

Frequency Mon 05-Feb-18 22:39:28

They'd be prompt with repairs, keep inspections at a minimum and realise that they are there to check for potential repairs, structural problems and for damage and not to judge my housekeeping skills. They'd be flexible with decoration and allow me some choice in how I decorate my home.

Alcohol is always welcome.

DonnyAndVladSittingInATree Mon 05-Feb-18 22:39:40

Appliances

OldBlueStitches Mon 05-Feb-18 22:46:34

Don't visit the house. We're in a similar property to the one it sounds like you'll be renting out and the landlord comes every 8 months (sometimes more, occasionally less) to "pick up the mail". It's more of a chance for them to have a nosey. It's not nice and has made this feel like it's not our home. Horrible (and I've rented a lot before).

Make sure your mail is forwarded somewhere else - getting someone else's mail for years and having to keep hold of it is a constant reminder that it's not your home.

If you do really need to come, give them some options of when, rather than announce "I'm coming on Monday at 2pm."

Don't worry about what they do to the place (unless it's major) until they move out. There's no need to nosey.

Remember it's your house and their home, for the duration of the lease.

OpheliaHardon Mon 05-Feb-18 23:00:39

I am my ideal landlord grin. I let out several properties: I don't use an agent, and never have done: I find the tenants, do the referencing, contracts etc myself.

I wouldn't bother with Prosecco. The thing that makes my tenants most happy is the fact that I deal with problems immediately, regardless of when they arise (so they know they can text me at 10 PM on a Sunday if the water has gone off, and I will do something about it). It's sometimes a pain when they tell you that the kettle needs de-scaling, but I will always call in the following day to do little jobs like that. In terms of bigger jobs, it's an idea to get all your services, boiler and white goods insured (British Gas and Dyno both do decent policies, and will send someone immediately if there's a real problem).

Never visit without warning them first (supposed to be 24 hours in advance). And if you do have reason to visit, remember that their housekeeping might not be up to your standards, but that's fine so long as they leave the house as they found it when they move out.

It is, of course, easy for me to do all this because I live close by. I did once have a long-distance let, and it was much more difficult. In fact, I sold it due to the problems of trying to keep on top of it from a distance.

I don't think you necessarily need an agent, though if you don't use an agent, you will need someone 'on the ground', who can sort out day-to-day problems that might arise. You would probably have to pay them a retainer (I do this for a couple of other people), but it may well be lower than an agent's fee.

CotswoldStrife Mon 05-Feb-18 23:08:50

How are you going to manage it from abroad?

You need an inventory before the tenant moves in and when they come out. Homes are often inspected at set intervals, especially for the first year or so (every 6 months, or every 3 months in our case due to previous tenants!) You need to lodge the deposit (if you take one) in an approved scheme. You'll need a gas safety check annually and probably carbon dioxide alarms fitted, and it's best if the boiler is serviced annually as well.

How are you proposing to credit check and reference your clients? What are you going to do if they stop paying, who will serve notice on them in the correct legal format?

BayLeaves Mon 05-Feb-18 23:13:12

*They do all the financial checks, hold spare keys, ensure rent is paid, deal with any urgent issues and keep an eye on your property including inspections.
How can you do all that if you are abroad?*

Financial checks etc - we are using an agent to do the “tenant find” only so referencing, credit check, inventory etc included in that package. I just resent paying a whopping 10% of the monthly rent just for them to answer the occasional phonecall about a broken down appliance and then ring someone to fix it and invoice us. If we had multiple properties then definitely yes, but for one house they just seem like a pointless, parasitic middleman... Then again I’m fortunate we’ll still have a relative who lives fairly local and is “in the trade” so can inspect the house for us, sort repairs and invoice us where necessary.

OldBlueStitches That does sound a bit much. I was thinking an inspection after say 6 months and then after that yearly, and like Frequency said, more of a check if any building maintenance is needed rather than a nosey. We have already set up our mail redirection for 6 months so hopefully that’ll catch most of it until all the random companies, old dentists, opticians etc get the message we’ve moved!

DonnyAndVladSittingInATree Mon 05-Feb-18 23:13:56

“You need to lodge the deposit (*if you take one*)”

Which you absolutely will do!! shock I can’t believe any LL worth their salt wouldnt a deposit!

PancakeInMaBelly Mon 05-Feb-18 23:16:31

The bottle is trite if you won't shell out for management that based in the UK !

Qvar Mon 05-Feb-18 23:17:25

Be in the end of the phone if needed and otherwise absent completely. The best landlord in my life is one that is not in my life. You don’t rent a home for the landlord, you rent it for the building.

OpheliaHardon Mon 05-Feb-18 23:19:54

Bay: it can work as you envisage (agree with you re agents taking money for providing very little) - though you will need to be absolutely certain that your family member will be willing and available to deal with problems immediately (isn't he likely to be busy with his own work?) It could create tension within the family if not.

Cotswold is quite right about gas safety check, carbon monoxide alarms, smoke alarms (though you probably have these already) and annual boiler servicing (all part of my insurance policy). These are all very straightforward, though.

FWIW, I have never yet had a tenant who hasn't paid on time. I had one frightful one who turned belligerent, and was mightily relieved when he gave notice. But the majority are pleasant and no trouble.

OpheliaHardon Mon 05-Feb-18 23:23:03

^^ Well said, Qvar. I can go for months without hearing from tenants. They just get on with it, but know they can ring if there is any problem - and that it will be fixed immediately.

scaryteacher Mon 05-Feb-18 23:25:11

OP Same situation as you, and I have always used an agent to care of everything, since 2006. The costs of the agency fees can be set against the rental profit when you do your tax return to reduce the amount on which you pay tax. There is no way I would have let the house without an agent,. It's too difficult, and I am 12 hours drive away from my place.

OldBlue Don't visit the house Why not? My previous landlord abroad would send me emails to remind me to get the hedges cut, and my new landlord wants to come and see us to check everything is OK (but the house is part of his families estate), so I'll tidy up and smile sweetly.

I have been to see previous tenants of mine to take chocolates and put faces to the names, but have always arranged this via the agent. I know, (as I rent), that where I rent isn't my forever home, in that I don't own it, so presumably, my tenant knows the same.

BayLeaves Mon 05-Feb-18 23:37:06

I’m still not convinced that an agency is superior to a good, responsive landlord. Back when we were renting we had to deal with agencies and they were so helpless I would have preferred dealing directly with the landlords.

Cavender Mon 05-Feb-18 23:38:05

We rent in the US and have tenants in our home in the U.K. so we are simultaneously Landlords and tenants.

Our house was in perfect order before we left but even so in just the last two years we’ve had to deal with a variety of repairs, breakdowns etc. The important thing to the tenant is fixing the problem ASAP.

It depends where you are moving to but we have a six hour time difference to the U.K., it just isn’t practical to be dealing with issues ourselves.

Apart from anything else not all UK companies will call you back on an international number. Paying for repairs etc from abroad isn’t always completely straightforward either.

We have an excellent property agent who is worth every penny.

They also take responsibility for making sure that all our gas start certificates, legionella certificates etc are kept up to date and do inspections every two months.

As a tenant I wouldn’t care about a bottle of wine, I care about a full set of instructions for everything, a clean house and speedy repairs.

borlottibeans Mon 05-Feb-18 23:39:27

What I want most from a landlord is to know that they will jump on any problems as quickly as they would if it was their own home.

We have had various landlords in the past who've self managed, which is nice in theory but in practice is a massive pain in the arse when there's an emergency and they're at work/on holiday/haven't got the cash to pay the plumber so will pretend they can't get hold of one.

The current lot use a big agency which has an emergency phone number, online reporting for non emergencies, and most importantly a service contract with British Gas that covers the boiler, the entire heating system, and the annual gas safety checks. It is great and I wouldn't trade it in a million years for the bottle of prosecco our previous landlady left us before her enthusiasm for her BTL hobby ran out.

MoreProsecco Mon 05-Feb-18 23:45:50

You can't realistically expect to manage it from abroad. Your mortgage company may insist on you appointing an agent anyway.

Have a look at the landlordzone forum to see what kind of issues LL's are facing - it can be scary reading!

Having a local handyman relative is all fine & well, but repairs are the least of your issues. If your tenant's home is broken into at 3am, are you going to be able to get an emergency glazier out? Do you know how to serve eviction notices? What will you do if they exercise their right to "quiet enjoyment" & decline inspections?

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