Demand for good quality rental homes continues to rise across all regions with the private rental sector still oﬀering a sound investment opportunity. Current and prospective landlords should consider the following top tips to ensure a successful tenancy:
Vet prospective tenants thoroughly.
It's important to check bank, employer and previous landlord references. As a rule of thumb, a tenant's annual income should be at least 30 times the monthly property rent.
Always take a deposit.
And more importantly, always protect it through one of the Scottish deposit protection schemes. As the landlord you can be made to pay the tenant three times the deposit amount back if the deposit isn’t formally protected. Most tenants expect to have to pay a deposit of at least one month's rent so be wary of those who try to wriggle out of this.
Tenancy Deposit scheme:
All landlords are required by law to safeguard a tenant's deposit until it is due to be repaid. This scheme ensures that both landlord's and tenant's money is protected.
Schedule regular property checks.
Don't just leave tenants to their own devices after they move in. Ensure that the ﬁrst inspection is within three months of the move in date. Inspections should be carried out at least annually by a dedicated lettings agent or the landlord and documented accordingly. They can provide useful evidence in disputes over fair wear and tear. If there is a breach of the lease, act on this immediately, don't leave it to perpetuate or get worse.
Alert tenants to rent arrears straight away.
Acting promptly will prevent the situation becoming diﬃcult. Keep a copy of all paperwork and emails sent to tenants as this will make it easier to serve a Notice to Quit / Notice to Leave to tenants if the contract is consistently breached. With the new Scottish Private Residential Tenancy legislation, (SPRT) the grounds for repossession are more restricted; all the more reason to ensure you ﬁnd suitable tenants from the outset.
Provide a tenant Information pack.
This provides important information to tenants in the private rented sector including details of the condition of the property, tenancy agreements, and the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. Landlords have a legal duty to do this.
Have a comprehensive inventory.
Landlords must allow for a level of ‘fair wear and tear' to their property during the rental period. A comprehensive inventory is conducted at the beginning of the lease so that both parties are aware of the condition of a property and that any damage can be accurately assessed.
Keeping abreast of all of the above helps landlords foster good tenant relations, which should encourage longer lease agreements and help to prevent tenants from falling into rent arrears.
Galbraith manages the lets of more than 1,000 homes throughout Scotland and Northern England and has a wealth of experience in assisting both landlords and prospective tenants with a range of budgets. As the lettings sector becomes more heavily regulated we expect to see a rise in the number of landlords seeking professional advice and assistance.