How to get your buy-to-let off to the best start

by Sarah JohnstonFounder of Homes4Harrogate letting agency

Sarah Johnston founded lettings company Homes4Harrogate last year and was a finalist in the national Best Estate Agent awards 2018,

Here are her top tips on how landlords can get a tenancy off to the best possible start:

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*Firstly, do not sign up to a Homecare Agreement. They require the tenants to be present for appointments and will not collect keys from your letting agent. This means the tenants have to take time off work and makes for very unhappy tenants.

*Secondly consider the décor of your property. Turn your home into a blank canvas. The best way to appeal to tenants is with neutral decorations and floor coverings. Your property for rent will have shorter void gaps if is neutral. Let your tenants then personalise the property to their own taste, making it feel more like their own home.

*My third tip is to unfurnish your house. In Harrogate the need for furnished properties is very low and you will put off the majority of tenants by furnishing your property. If you have to keep it furnished, please remember it must comply with fire safety regulations. Every relevant piece of furniture must still display fire labels. Many people who rent are between house moves, or simply want to make their own stamp on a property to make it feel like their home if renting longer term. Personalising and furnishing a property to your own tastes could put off potential longer-term tenants.

*My fourth tip is to still provide window coverings. Curtains or blinds can be costly and something a tenant doesn't want to have to provide themselves. It also provides immediate privacy for them when they move in. You also avoid damage to your property with tenants trying to put up their own curtain poles/blinds etc, and damaging walls and décor.

*Another basic, but often looked over tip is to thoroughly clean your property. You cannot always rely on previous tenants to have left the property in an acceptable state. It sets the tone for the tenancy and the standard for which the property must be returned at the end. Using a professional cleaning company can save you both time and money as it will be ready to let more quickly.

*There are also legal obligations you have to adhere to, so tip six is to ensure you install smoke alarms on each liveable floor of the property, and don't forget a carbon monoxide alarm for each room with a solid fuel appliance. This is actually the law, not a nice to have, and must be adhered to for the safety of your tenants.

*This leads to tips seven and eight, whereby any appliances that you provide are your responsibility, so ensure you not only think carefully about the age and condition of items, but also that you provide all the relevant instruction manuals. Otherwise you could be liable for any accidents or problems that occur as a result of faulty equipment.

*Tip nine is to invest in a garden tidy up. Often this is the first impression of the property as potential tenants arrive, so make a good first impression. You can also include a garden maintenance agreement as part of the rent, ensuring the property remains presentable for the benefit of both future lets, and keeping the neighbours on your side. Not

all tenants want to maintain a garden.

*Use a regulated letting agent. Using a professional letting agent means they deal with everything for you, from meeting the tenants, to resolving any queries. E

*, tel: 01423 529250