When it comes to renting out property, every landlord wants to save some money. Quite often, landlords will try to cut corners at the detriment of their tenants and in doing so, often put themselves at risk of breaking the law. Here, we show you some top money saving tips without the risk.
1. Shop around for insurance:
Insurance can mean the difference between a headache and hassle-free landlord experience and ensuring you have the right insurance policies in place is one of the most common ways to save some money. For landlords, the plethora of insurance products can be daunting and cause a headache in itself but it’s not really that difficult to understand. The most common types of insurance for landlords are:
- Contents, and;
- Owner’s Liability.
These are often bundled together as Landlord Insurance but be mindful of what’s included if an insurance company is marketing their insurance product as “Landlord Insurance” or “Comprehensive Landlord Insurance”. Comprehensive Landlord Insurance typically includes rent guarantee insurance and legal cover too, which is to cover the cost of evicting the tenant should they fall into arrears.
Owners liability insurance is important in case your tenants are injured as a result of an unforeseen hazard or if a tradesman or contractor injure themselves whilst on your property.
You may also wish to consider deposit replacement insurance which makes your property more attractive to many tenants who’d rather use their equivalent-to-6-weeks-rent deposit for something more useful to them, such as actually furnishing their new home. Many landlords will have the opinion that if a tenant doesn’t want to part with nearly two month’s rent as a deposit, plus one month’s rent upfront will likely be due to the tenant not having the funds available when this isn’t the case.
Put it this way, Harry Albert Lettings & Estates are well known for charging tenants the lowest tenant fees in Leicester than any other agency and to move into a property managed by them will cost a single, adult tenant £125 for vetting and £125 (refundable) as a holding fee, plus 6 weeks rent or the cost of a deposit replacement insurance product. If we take one of their properties as an example where the rent is £900 per calendar month, the tenant can either pay the tenant fee, the holding fee, the deposit and one month’s rent upfront (totaling £2394.23) or they can pay the tenant fee, the holding fee, one month’s rent upfront and buy a deposit replacement insurance product, approximately £180 (totaling £1330).
So, you can either pay £2394.23 to move in or £1330 for the exact same opportunity, which would you rather do? Most sane people would choose the latter. It’s more than £1000 cheaper! As we would advise you as a landlord to search for the cheapest like-for-like deal, we’d advise your tenants to do the same.
Harry Albert Lettings & Estates can point you in the right direction when it comes to selecting the most essential insurance products so give them a call on 0116 321 4970. Making sure you have the correct insurance for your property to rent will make a difference should you ever have a reason to make a claim but equally as important is making sure you shop around for the best quotes, especially at the time of renewal. You can also negotiate with your current provider to decrease the cost to prevent you going elsewhere for the same product.
2. Choose better tradespeople:
Costs can soon add up when it comes to keeping up with house repairs and maintenance, even a small flat can cost thousands over the years in upkeep. If you have more than one property, you may find the majority of your expenses are going towards repairs and maintenance, whether it’s purchasing materials, tools or parts to paying invoices from tradesman you’ve instructed to work on your properties.
A good way to save money is to shop around for contractors who will carry out work at your property. It’s always best to find a decent plumber, electrician, multi-skill builder/carpenter and plasterer as these will cover the most common repair requests you’ll come across as a landlord. When it comes to choosing your tradesmen and tradeswomen, you’ll want to ask for proof of qualifications and insurance, as well as references or examples of their work. The most common insurance you will want your tradespeople to have is Public Liability Insurance to protect you in case anybody is injured as a result of their work. If someone was to make a claim against you as a result of injury caused by your contractors, you could then make a claim against them regardless of whether they have Public Liability Insurance. It’s also a good idea to check if they have income protection insurance or personal injury insurance so you’ll have some degree of protection against having to cover their loss of earnings should they be injured in your property. You should also make sure any tradesman is at least Level 3 qualified in their respective trade with at least 5 years experience.
You shouldn’t necessarily scrimp on the cost of tradespeople. Whilst you will be entitled to a refund or for the work to be done correctly should things go wrong, legal action and enforcement can be costly but you’ll almost always get your court fees paid back by the defendant should your legal claim be successful, which it should be if the job hasn’t been done correctly. The saying “Pay Cheap, Pay Twice” comes to mind here. A good tradesman is always worth the cost.
Review sites like Bark.com are fantastic for finding reliable tradesman and other business services whilst websites like RatedPeople and CheckATrade aren’t quite as reliable as any tradesman can become a trusted trader on these sites provided they’re willing to pay the membership fees. There is very little due diligence carried out on the tradespeople who operate on these sites.
3. Compare and save on utility bills:
If you’re a landlord who pays the bills in your properties, especially common amongst shared housing, HMOs and student accommodation, you’ll definitely want to compare the best energy and broadband deals (if appropriate) on the market.
Landlords of shared (and not uncommonly single let) student accommodation will often include gas, electricity and broadband in the cost of the rent, making life easier for the tenants. Many landlords ask for a weekly contribution toward the bills but the biggest savings here are from shopping around. A great place to look for the best utility deals are Which Utility, Which Utility scour the market for the best deals and you won’t go far wrong by switching with Which Utility.
4. Maximise your expense allowances:
Even with all the attacks on landlords lately with regards to reduction in tax reliefs across the board, landlords can still claim most expenses against the running of their business, even as sole-traders or limited companies.
When it comes to deducting expenses from your landlord tax bill, you’ll want to consult a specialist property tax adviser, but for a relative understanding of what can be deducted from your tax bill, we have compiled a short list of the most common deductible expenses for landlords:
- Costs of carrying out your duties as a landlords:
- Phone calls.
- Advertising to find new tenants.
- Stationary such as pens, rent books, letterheaded paper, printing costs and postage stamps.
- Service charges and rent/lease costs.
- Management fees and fees charged by solicitors, accountants and tradespeople.
- Mortgage Interest (discuss with a tax advisor about how Section 24 can impact you).
- If you include bills such as council tax, water, gas and electric, you can declare these as part of your rental income and claim these back as an expense.
As Leicester Property Insight aren’t qualified property tax advisors, we must advise you seek professional guidance and advice before acting on this tip.
5. Review your mortgage on a regular basis:
As we would consolidate credit card debts on a balance transfer card, you’ll want to shop around for the best mortgage rates and refinance where necessary. Reviewing your buy to let mortgage on a regular basis makes sure you’re getting the best mortgage deal and paying the lowest interest. The better your mortgage deal, the more profit you’ll be able to squeeze from your property.
The most valauable time to remortgage seems to be when your credit isn’t quite so strong so you end up on a deal with a slightly higher mortgage rate or required to pay a larger deposit. Over time, as your mortgage repayments are made on time and your credit history improves, you’ll become eligible for cheaper rates and lower deposit requirements and as such, it wouldn’t make sense to keep all of your capital tied up in the property whilst also paying an increased interest rate. Remortgaging may allow you to recycle your cash that’s tied up in the property, for example, you could initially have a mortgage of 50% loan-to-value (LTV) with an interest rate of 4% per annum. As your credit file improves, you may become eligible for a mortgage with a 75% LTV (meaning you only need a deposit equivalent to 25% of the value of the property) and an interest rate of 3%. By remortgaging, you’ll be able to pull out 25% of the value of the property to either pay down the mortgage further, being mindful of early repayment/overpayment fees or to use as a deposit on a second property and grow your portfolio, leading to higher returns for the same amount of money!
You don’t always have to change provider either, you may find you can negotiate a better rate with your current lender which is in their best interests and can cause less friction when you change mortgages.
6. Find a more competitive managing agent:
Landlords will often find a competitive letting agent who can manage their property quite cheaply but, like the tip regarding tradespeople, when you pay cheap, you often pay twice. One common tactic used by agents in a race to the bottom in terms of their prices landlords pay is to include dozens of hidden charges. Quite often, agents won’t even include their charges on their website because they fleece each individual landlord for as much money as they can and this will vary depending on the level of professionalism and experience the landlord has and how easy a target the agent believes the landlord is.
Some Leicester estate agents who provide property management services who fail to publish their fees include:
- Seth’s Estate Agents
- Ace Properties
- SR Properties
- Prime Move
- and many more.
Unfortunately, whilst the above agencies are complicit in breaking the law surrounding consumer rights and refusing to publish their fees and treat consumers fairly, they are more than happy to declare their extortionate tenant fees.
Those who do publish their landlord fees will often include reasonable management charges but charge ridiculous fees for “additional services” which should be included in the management service as a whole, for example:
- Nicholas Humphreys charges 10.8% management plus £360 whenever you need a new tenant and their hidden fees include:
- A renewal fee: Should you decide not to evict your tenant at the end of the initial period, they’ll charge you £50 for the pleasure of keeping them on as a tenant. The tenancy renewal is simply just having the tenant sign on the dotted line of a new tenancy agreement (which rarely deviates from the terms of the initial tenancy). You’ll have already paid for them to find a tenant so why should you pay to keep that tenant in your property?
- Rent Review Fee: As managing agent, their job is to keep on top of the market and adjust the rent accordingly but Humphreys rip their landlord clients off an extra £40 just to vary the rent and keep it in line with current market conditions, this should be included free of charge as part of the management service as it will be the agents job to maximise the returns their landlord clients achieve from allowing them to manage the property.
- They also charge a fee of 10% of 6 months rent to terminate their management contract with you, in other words, they hold you to quite a significant ransom if they do such a poor job you decide you want to fire them as an agent.
- Nicholas Humphreys charges 10.8% management plus £360 whenever you need a new tenant and their hidden fees include:
- Haart charge 14.4% to manage your property with a tenant find fee of 4 weeks rent + £354 to set the tenancy up (which they also charge to the tenant so you’re both paying for the service when really, just one of you should be):
- They also charge £3 per month for a landlord statement which could be required by law should you ever be audited by HMRC, this should be included free of charge under the management agreement as you should be fully informed as to what monies are coming in and going out.
- £180 per day to attend court which, if they have found the tenant and the tenant refuses to leave after being served notice, should be included as part of the management service as they are managing the property and the tenancy.
- £30 per new key that needs to be cut which they will also charge the tenant around £70 should they lose their key.
- Haart also charge £118.80 to extend the tenancy agreement which, as before, should be included as part of the management service. You shouldn’t have to pay a fee to keep the tenant in the property as well as a fee to find a new tenant.
- Keywest charge 20.4% to manage your property and:
- £20 to register the deposit even though this is a legal obligation and should be included in the extortionate management charge.
- £25 to send a letter to the tenant to chase rent arrears or to send other letters.
- £50 to reject an unsuitable applicant to your property which is, frankly, disgusting.
As you can see, the agents who don’t publish their fees are likely to charge similar hidden fees as those who do but what do we suggest?
Combatting Extortionate Agency Fees
Harry Albert Lettings & Estates are well known in Leicester for their simple fees charged to landlords and tenants and are renowned for their transparency overall. For landlords who instruct Harry Albert Lettings & Estates to manage their property, they charge:
- £100 as a one of set up fee.
- £99 every time you need a new tenant.
- 7% of the rent due each month to manage the property.
- An inventory fee of £25 per room with a minimum charge of £125 or at cost if the inventory is carried out by an independent inventory company.
- That’s it. No renewal fees, no deposit registration fees, no extra hidden fees to manage your property.
Note: Tenant Find Fee only applies to landlords who instruct Harry Albert Lettings & Estates to manage their property.
- £125 holding fee (to secure the property. Refundable unless the application is falsified)
- £125 tenant vetting fee per adult.
- £125 guarantor vetting fee.
- £40 charge for rent reminders and missed appointments.
- That’s it. No hidden charges. Ever.
By switching to Harry Albert Lettings & Estates, they guarantee to save you money whilst maximising your rental income as a landlord. Switch today by calling 0116 321 4970 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask how they can maximise your property revenues today!