Sunday, November 13, 2005

How to become a landlord (1)

Simple steps to becoming a landlord
"I have bought a two-bedroom, newly built city-centre flat for 'buy to let' and optimistically propose to find my own tenant. Could you recommend a guide to the process and its pitfalls, with particular interest in obtaining access to a credit check facility on prospective tenants?

Lorna Vestey writes: I advise any novice landlord to use an Association of Residential Letting Agents agent at least for the first let. However, the process is preparation, advertising, showing, references, insurance, tenancy agreement, deposit/rent, inventory, utilities/council tax, management.

First, buy The Which? Guide to Renting and Letting (Which? Books £11.99) and join the National Landlords Association (www.landlords.org.uk; 0870 241 0471) which has an informative site and an advice line. When you have found a prospective tenant, take references (employer and previous landlord, if possible) and follow them up. Credit checks and subsequent insurance on non-payment of rent can be provided by specialists Paragon (www.paragon-plus.co.uk; 0800 0925 901).

Make sure you use a proper Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (in the Complete Residential Lettings Kit Lawpack, £14.99, from good stationers). Prepare an inventory and have this signed, too. Use an inventory clerk so any later disagreements can be dealt with by an independent party.

The pitfalls are mainly dud tenants and allowing a tenancy to become established without the proper paperwork being in place. Do not let anyone have the keys, or move in early, and ensure you meet the requirements to be able legally to obtain repossession of the flat at the end of the tenancy.

Lorna Vestey is a former partner of a blue-chip London estate agency."

This struck me as a really effective summary of what you need to do to become a landlord... other than how to select your market and buy a suitable house, of course.

Chris Bell

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