Rogue Landlords

Martin’s Top 10 Tips for Buy to Let Success

The market today has a fair share of ‘accidental landlords’ – people who wouldn’t otherwise consider themselves to be property people, but who are forced to rent out their properties because they can’t find a buyer and yet still need to move themselves.

So, whether or not you fall into this category or are an investor wanting to cash in on the current opportunities, here are some of my top tips on getting the Buy to Let game working for you.

  • Buy Close to Home – There’s alot to be said for buying in the area where you live since you can easily build up the knowledge of that area; what properties are in demand and what is likely to rent well. You also have the benefit of being able to keep an eye on your rental properties yourself.

  • Buy houses; not flats – Unless you are setting up your rental portfolio in central London – where flats and apartments are in greater demand, it is better to buy 2 and 3 bedroom houses rather than flats. Period, terraced houses always do well as rental properties, as do modern, new builds but avoid buying on a large development where there are lots of similar properties.
  • Buy new or Nearly new – If its just rent that you are after, then it is better to buy properties that are already up together rather than those that need extensive refurbishment (this is another strategy). Doing major DIY will eat into time when you could be recieving rent. New properties also have the benefit of builder guarantees, double glazing etc and tend to attract more professional tenants.
  • Choose your tenants carefully – It goes without saying that you should do all the necessary checks to ensure that any prospective tenants are creditworthy and have a guarantor who is a home owner. Reference from previous landlords are also really helpful. As for who makes the best tenants? Well, thats a million dollar question and I have let to a whole cross section of differant people without any problems. Generally middle aged couples who have recently got together from previous relationships tend to be respectful and stay for a long time. I also find that pet owners (contrary to what you might first believe) are very tidy and look after the home really well.
  • Be Businesslike; You are not a charity – Property is an invesment commodity and you should treat yours as such. Be firm with tenants and don’t get emotionally involved with them. You might find that you have to reject tenants that you ‘like the look of’ if they don’t have the deposit or necessary credit worthiness, but better this than lumber yourself with a headache tenant further down the line.
  • Refurb Neutrally – if you are refurbishing property to rent, then don’t impose your personal tastes on others. Stick to neutral colours – magnolia walls and white bathroom suite. Use the same floor covering throughout the property since this not only gives a better sense of space but also if you need to replace any bits you are likely to have some spare left over.
  • Avoid ex-local authority properties – rents will always be lower than similar properties in the same area that are not ex-council owned.
  • Bungalows cost too much – whilst bungalows hold their capital value well and can be a good investment (please see my article: ) since you are paying a premium for the property, you are likely to get a lower yield on rent because the amount you can charge won’t rise accordingly i.e you could pay 50% more for a bungalow in a particular area, but the rent you can achieve might only be 10% more.
  • Leverage your money carefully – If you have capital to invest, it is still better to borrow money to make that capital go further. Purchasing three properties, each with 65% mortgage on them is still better than putting all your cash into one deal. Even with the tighter lending criteria we now face, mortgage companies should still offer very competitive deals at this level of LTV, allowing you to diversify your investment a bit.
  • Don’t buy monochrome, mono structure properties – many buy to let investors have seen their property values fall and rents plummet on flats purchased in large mono style developments in UK city centres. Quite simply there is too much supply of the same kinds of properties in these areas. Its better to do your research well and pick out individual properties in established areas.
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