A new year has arrived, used by many as a time for reflection on the previous twelve months and planning for the next.
New Year's resolutions are a hot topic at the moment but rather than focusing on healthy lifestyles and saving money, here are our five suggestions for landlords looking to have a prosperous and positive 2016…
1 – Be more sociable
Sharing ideas and information with other landlords is always beneficial – especially as the rental market is constantly changing and grows every year. That's why we're proposing that this year more landlords speak to each other – whether it be online using forums like Property Tribes, Landlord Zone or Landlord Today, or face-to-face at property investment seminars or landlord body-organised events. Communicating with like-minded individuals gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge and pick up valuable tips from others.
2 – Be clear on legislation and regulation
Things really have changed a lot in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in the past decade. In the last year alone, there have been significant changes to the Section 21 evictions process as well as fire safety rules introduced regarding the mandatory installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This year, we await the introduction of the Right to Rent scheme in February and there are also new energy efficiency measures being introduced in the coming few years. Being up to date with legislation and regulation is a vital part of being a successful landlord and will contribute towards keeping you on the right side of the law as well as saving you time, money and hassle. If you don't feel like you're doing this already, this is one aspect of being a landlord you must take very seriously in 2016. Utilising the ideas from resolution one, and lots of reading will help here. Also, if you use one, letting agents can play a key role in keeping you informed and compliant, too.
3 – Shop around
There are many things a landlord has to take into account before, during and after a tenancy. These range from choosing a letting agent and inventory provider to choosing a landlord insurance and tenant referencing provider. Making the right choices really will improve your chances of having a successful year and that's why we think that it's time for those landlords that don't already shop around for the best products to turn over a new leaf and get stuck into price and customer service comparisons. When it comes to insurance, our Landlord Insurance comparison tool – which is powered by leading financial researcher Defaqto – allows you to put hundreds of policies from different suppliers to the test. For other products and services, looking at review sites and speaking to landlords and letting agents could definitely be time well spent.
4 – Give a good impression to all around you
There are some organisations and sections of society among which private landlords have a negative reputation. We all know that fortunately it's only a handful of landlords that impact on the reputation of the majority. If the silent majority of hard-working, honest landlords make a concerted effort in 2016 to show just how good they are it could leave a lasting impression on tenants, politicians and the general public and go a long way to boosting the reputation of private landlords in the future.
5 – Be prepared for change
As we've already mentioned, the PRS is constantly adapting, growing and developing as home ownership levels continue to fall and the proportion of people privately renting in the UK keeps increasing. For example, as recently as October, think tank ResPublica reported that the PRS now accounts for 22% of all UK households, increasing from a lowly 9% in 1985. We may not be able to predict exactly what's going to happen this year but one thing we can be certain of is change – some of it unexpected. Think back to last year – the industry was caught unawares twice by the Government. First came the announcement in the Summer Budget that mortgage interest tax relief is to be restricted to the basic rate of income tax over the next few years and the formal Wear and Tear allowance is to be scrapped. Then, in November, the Autumn Statement revealed that from April purchasers of buy-to-let and second homes will have to pay an additional 3% stamp duty. Expecting change and being able to adapt with the times will stand you in good stead throughout 2016 and beyond.