While most people become landlords thanks to a desire to make a solid income from property, 'accidental landlords', as they are known, fall into the property business through circumstance rather than choice.
But whatever your reasons for letting property, it is vital you are aware of your responsibilities as a landlord.
Take a look at Martin & Co Camberley's guide for first-time landlords below and for further information and guidance, pop into the branch and speak to one of our experts.
YOUR OBLIGATIONS: FIRST-TIME LANDLORD CHECKLIST
1 Perform a right to rent immigration check on potential tenants.
2 Provide a valid Energy Performance Certificate, gas safety certificate and a copy of the government 'How to Rent' guide to all tenants.
3 Protect your tenant's deposit in one of the government-approved deposit protection schemes.
4 Ensure a gas safety check is done every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered tradesperson.
5 Make sure furniture and electrical equipment meets safety standards
6 Install a smoke alarm on each floor of your rental property and a carbon monoxide alarm in each room with a coal fire or wood-burning stove.
7 Allow tenants to enjoy the property without interference, giving plenty of notice before a visit / inspection.
ADVICE FOR FIRST-TIME LANDLORDS
1 ASSESS YOUR FINANCES
Unless you are in the enviable position to be a cash buyer or already own the property you want to let outright, there's a strong chance you will require a buy-to-let mortgage.
But regardless of where your funding is coming from, you will need to ensure your finances are in good shape to make letting your property viable.
For those seeking a mortgage, most lenders will be looking for a deposit of no less than 25% of the property's value, while the more attractive mortgages are available to landlords with a deposit of 40% and above.
Lenders will also need your annual rental income to cover 125% of your mortgage interest annually. So, for a annual mortgage payment of £30,000 your rental income would need to be £37,500.
Make sure you are not putting yourself in a difficult position should your rental property remain vacant for a period of time. Look at the worst case scenario. Would you have the income to support yourself in that situation?
2 DO YOUR RESEARCH
Becoming a landlord means dealing with a lot of money - both incoming and outgoing. So with so much cash involved in the process, it pays to have done your research before you set out on your property journey.
If you are buying a property to rent out, do deep research on the area. It may be an area you already know well, but may also be an area with limited rental opportunities for landlords.
It can be worth exploring other areas away from your core postcodes. There may be an untapped part of town with a high demand for lettings but a stock that doesn't meet that demand.
Check out the market conditions and get as much information as you can by speaking to the local estate and lettings agent. Save plenty of blogs like this to your online reading list, too!
3 GO TO A LETTINGS AGENT
When becoming a landlord for the first time, the one thing you won't have is experience. So, it pays to make use of people who do.
Although lettings agents command a fee, their knowledge and local area expertise can be priceless. They will know how to keep you on the right side of the law when it comes to lettings and can also give you good access to potential tenants.
Most lettings agents will provide a property management service, which includes collecting rent and undertaking inspections. This can be a useful service for a first-time landlord during those initial settling in months.
But make sure you do your research on agents in the area before committing. Speak to other landlords if you can, in person and via the many online platforms available, to get the low down on a particular agent. Verbal recommendations still count for a lot.
4 ARRANGE LANDLORD INSURANCE
This cover really is a must for new landlords. A good policy will cover buildings insurance, protecting your property from damage, contents cover for your fixtures, fittings and furnishings, loss of rent cover in the event of damage and liability cover should either your actions or your property cause injury to your tenants.
5 USE PROFESSIONAL TRADESPEOPLE
While it can be tempting in the early days to save a few pennies by undertaking work yourself, using skilled trades is highly recommended for first-time landlords.
Having trusted and reliable outsourcing opportunities in the early days can really pay off long-term.
Whether that is a good plumber, superb electrician or a great accountant, having experience and support around you as you begin life as a residential landlord is crucial.
Using trusted and reliable trades is key. Start building a list of people you can call upon, whose work and pricing you trust.
Things can, and do, go wrong with rental properties and being able to react quickly can help you keep your tenants happy. But equally, you don't want to rush in, book a tradesperson you don't know and be left with a large and nasty bill at the end.
Building a relationship with good people is as vital as building a sound and trusting relationship with your tenants.
6 ACCESS AND ASSESS YOUR TENANTS
This is where using a letting agent can be of huge benefit to first-time landlords. Lettings agents will take away the minefield of tenant searching and vetting and ensure your property has the best people renting it.
However, if you are looking to find and vet your tenants yourself, there are things you need to know.
A concise and attractive description, along with striking, professional images, is the way to market a rental property in 2018. If your description is grammatically poor, full of errors, lacking in key information and your images are unprofessional, blurry and dull, there's a strong chance your potential tenants will look elsewhere - even if you are marketing your property on the correct channels.
Once you have potential tenants interested, ensure you know everything you need to know about their reasons for wanting to rent your property and their financial ability to pay the rent. Seek references from their previous landlords and get to know them. Doing this now could save you a major headache further into the tenancy.
7 KEEP YOUR PROPERTY MAINTAINED
A happy tenant means a happy landlord. Encourage your tenant to keep you up to speed on the property's condition and report any issues promptly. Undertake regular inspections, giving your tenant plenty of notice, so you can keep on top of any routine maintenance requirements. A little and often approach to property maintenance can ensure you don't receive any shocks or huge bills further down the line.
Being proactive with your rental property's maintenance will also keep your tenant happy and help you retain them, saving you large amounts of money in looking for new people to rent your property.
For more advice on property investment and lettings in Camberley and the surrounding area, speak to one of Martin & Co's local experts today.