I was really fortunate in that I was able to buy my first property aged just 18, and after I graduated from university I found myself as a landlord. I now generate a nice passive income from my rental property. It has been a very interesting journey, and here are the things I wish I had known before becoming a landlord in the North West of England.
Council tax is payable on empty properties
Every council will have their own rules – mine is that there is a 6 month council tax exemption, but after that, council tax is still payable on empty properties. I didn't know this, and found myself with a massive council tax bill for a house I wasn't even living in, and that was empty. Get in touch with your council tax office to ensure that they are kept up to date with whether your property is rented or not, and you can stay on top of payments.
Grants are often available
Did you know that your local housing team might have some grants in place for rental properties? I managed to get an empty home grant, where the local housing team paid for 50% of the work to bring the house up to standard and get it rented. There is even more money on offer if you are happy to rent out to people receiving housing benefit. Get in touch with your local housing team to find out if there is anything relevant for your property.
There is no sure fire way to predict maintenance costs
There are some annual maintenance costs that you can budget for, such as an annual gas safety certificate, but you will never be able to accurately judge other unexpected costs. Landlord insurance is great for any big emergencies that crop up, but there are often smaller costs that aren't covered by landlord insurance. To combat this, I have a “float” available to any ad hoc maintenance repairs that crop up.
The power of word of mouth
I was extremely lucky to find my tenants – one of their parents had seen renovations happening on the property and popped by to ask what the plan was. Just like that, the house was rented out! I would not hesitate to use a lettings agent to rent out the property – from finding and vetting the possible tenants to dealing with the day to day running, but I was fortunate enough to be able to bypass this without any effort on my part. It meant I was able to give the tenants cheaper rent and the house was rented immediately.
I have put together these tidbits of advice for inclusion in Homelet's new ebook, looking at giving practical advice to landlords in the North West of England.