Top advice for new landlords in 2024

    Seeff shares 10 pieces of advice for new landlords, equipping them for a smooth and informed transition into this new role

    Stepping into the role of a landlord can be as daunting as it is exciting. You're not just investing in property and renting it out to seemingly perfect tenants; you're navigating legal responsibilities, financial decisions, and tenant management – often while managing a career and family.

    In this article, Seeff offers clear, practical advice for new landlords to help you excel in this role.

    1. Educate Yourself on Legalities

    Start by researching the specific laws and regulations in your area. This could involve visiting your local government's website, attending workshops hosted by local housing authorities, or consulting with a property lawyer. Keep a checklist of legal requirements such as lease agreements, safety certifications, and deposit handling procedures. You should also regularly update yourself on changes to these laws, as real estate legislation can evolve.

    • TIP: Create a folder, physically or digitally, where you can keep updated documents and notes on legal requirements. It’s also advisable to subscribe to real estate law newsletters.

    2. Plan Your Finances 

    A clear financial plan should encompass all potential costs and revenue streams. Ongoing expenses like repairs, insurance, and property tax add up, and you need to compare them against your rental income to ensure you’re making a profit. Factor in vacancy periods, too – it's prudent to plan for a few months of vacancy per year, just in case.

    For your investment strategy, evaluate if your goal is immediate rental income or long-term property appreciation. Diversifying your investments can also protect you against market fluctuations.

    • TIP: Use financial management software to track expenses and income and set aside a contingency fund for unexpected costs.

    3. Screen Tenants Effectively

    Not everyone who applies to rent your property has the means to do so. Require potential tenants to complete a detailed application form, conduct credit checks, and verify employment to assess their financial stability. It’s also advisable to contact previous landlords for references to understand their rental history.

    Last but not least, always comply with fair housing laws to avoid any form of discrimination.

    • TIP: Develop a standardised tenant screening process and use online tools for credit and background checks. It’ll make your job easier and less stressful. 

    4. Maintain Your Property

    While your tenants certainly have a responsibility to maintain the original state of the property, so do you. As a landlord, you have maintenance responsibilities that you can’t ignore. Conduct seasonal inspections and address issues promptly to prevent them from escalating into costly repairs. Upgrades that enhance energy efficiency, like LED lighting or efficient boilers, not only save money in the long run but are also attractive to tenants and can increase your property value. 

    • TIP: Create a maintenance schedule and stick to it. We also recommend that you build a good relationship with reliable local contractors and tradespeople for quick responses to repair needs.

    5. Establish Good Landlord-Tenant Relationships

    As with any business, relationships can make or break the situation. A key aspect is fostering a sense of mutual respect and understanding. This can be achieved through consistently showing consideration for tenant needs and circumstances. For instance, when a tenant raises a concern, acknowledging their issue promptly and offering a realistic timeline for resolution not only demonstrates your responsiveness but also your commitment to their well-being.

    Moreover, transparency in all dealings is vital. Keeping tenants informed about any changes that might affect them, such as maintenance schedules or policy updates, helps in building trust. 

    • TIP: Set up regular communication channels such as monthly emails or a dedicated phone line for tenant concerns. Always document interactions and agreements for clarity and legal protection - you’ll be grateful you did. 

    6. Prepare for Vacancies

    Have a plan in place for tenant turnovers. This includes advertising the property, refurbishing or cleaning as needed, and reassessing the rental price based on current market conditions. Efficient marketing strategies like online listings, professional photographs, and virtual tours can attract a wider pool of potential tenants.

    • TIP: Keep a checklist for end-of-tenancy procedures. Consider engaging professional cleaning and photography services to prepare your property for new tenants - it’s convenient and takes the burden off your shoulders. 

    7. Understand Insurance Needs

    Landlord insurance is vital. It should cover property damage, liability in case of accidents, and potential loss of rental income. Regularly review and update your policy to ensure it matches the value of your property and your specific needs as they evolve.

    • TIP: Consult with an insurance broker who specialises in real estate to find the most comprehensive and cost-effective policy.  

    8. Stay Informed About Market Trends

    Keeping up with market trends helps you make informed decisions. This includes understanding the average rental rates in your area, the demand for rental properties, and any emerging trends that might affect property values. Regularly read real estate reports, attend local property investor meetings, or use online tools that provide market insights.

    • TIP: Set up Google Alerts for real estate news in your area and speak to your community for first-hand knowledge.  

    9. Consider Professional Guidance

    Managing property can be overwhelming. Why not enlist a property management company to handle the day-to-day tasks, from tenant screening to maintenance? However, before hiring one, take the time to compare different companies, understand their fee structures, and assess the services they offer.

    • TIP: Interview multiple property management firms, ask for references, and clearly understand what is included in their services. 

    10. Prioritise Tenant Satisfaction

    Happy tenants lead to lower turnover. Regularly seek feedback to understand their needs. Address maintenance issues promptly, consider upgrades based on tenant requests, and simple gestures like welcome gifts or periodic check-ins can significantly boost tenant satisfaction.

    • TIP: Establish a feedback mechanism, like an online survey or a suggestion box, and respond constructively to the feedback received. 

    happy female landlord handing keys to male tenant

    Becoming a landlord is a big move. Yet, it’s not without support; at Seeff, we offer landlord services, from tenant acquisition and rent collection to effective marketing and property management, to help you succeed in this new venture.

    With over 200 offices and 1100 Property Practitioners ready to assist, backed by a robust advertising strategy and a legacy of excellence, let us take the hassle out of property letting.

    Explore our landlord services today. 

    Author: Seeff Property Group
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