Tommy’s Tips: Property Rentals


I wrote recently that I would talk rentals.  Rented out property can be a very good investment, both from rising property prices, and a good rental return (yield).  It is though, very much dependant on where you are geographically in the country with the South East being the fastest rising region, with London being the hottest property spot in the country.

The price paid for an investment property is normally reflected in a number of crucial factors.  First and foremost, the location; public transport facilities, shops, restaurants, entertainment, parks, off street parking is an asset, but all of these become fairly meaningless if the condition of the property is not up to certain standards.  Maximising the best use of the existing space, planning and embracing the potential of creating extra space, is crucial in the long term, what I call “creating added value”, which could be anything from a simple rear extension, knocking down a garage, replacing with a two / three storey extension, extending the original roof over the new extension and converting the roof space and loft.  Extending sideways an end of terrace house, if there’s the space, excavating an existing basement deeper, to create an extra floor of living space, provided windows for natural light are incorporated into the design. 

These suggested property enlargements and improvements are meant as a long term plan, to create a quality property portfolio, and you can simply stop at one, or as many that suits you!  It’s very important that you do your research extensively, try to select a property in an area close to you, or easily commutable, purely from a practical management point of view.  There’s an old adage any investor should work to “Its far better to buy the worst house in the best street than the best house in the worst street!  “What normally happens with property hotspots, is like tossing a pebble into a pond, with ripples radiating out from the centre, that’s where the real skill comes into play, forecasting where and when to buy.  It’s a bit like stocks and shares, it’s no good buying at the peak, as the chances of a major fall are increased, property‘s very similar, it’s all about timing, buying at the bottom, doing the expansion and renovation extremely quickly and of high quality, in order to get the best revenue returns in the quickest turnaround time, without compromising on quality. 

With rental properties, there are essentially two types of client, singles / couples, that don’t want to share and require; studio, one bedroom, sometimes two bedroom properties and have to be well designed contemporary, minimalist, and comfy.  Then there’s sharers, they require minimum two bed upwards, these have to be designed differently, with lots of essential safeguards in place, to both protect the tenants, and make the property practical for shared use.  Fire safety is number one, so no security window bars, or gates, instead ensure there are good locks, burglar alarm, and CCTV cameras.

Plasterboard double tacking all common areas providing protection against fire, (two layers of plasterboard) with self-closing fire check doors and frames, with a fully wired fire alarm and carbon monoxide warning system installed.  The heating and hot water system should be powered by a suitably sized condensing boiler, as part of “a mains pressured system”, which protects the user if having a shower, and somebody else turns on the cold or hot supply somewhere else in the property, or the dishwasher or washing machine comes on, the people in the shower or bath are not scalded or frozen, even if there are multiple showers and baths all turned on at the same time.    

The electrical installation, should be upgraded and a new consumer unit fitted with R.C.D controls on all circuits.  All mains lamps should be replaced with low voltage L.E.D lamps, which create far less heat, reducing a potential fire hazard, also reducing energy used, by a colossal amount.  In a shared property, the upper floors including all bedrooms should be of heavy quality carpet and underlay to reduce amplified noise, and should be non-wool to prevent the increasingly common curse of the moth who thrives on natural wool fibre! 

The ground floor, I would have either engineered hardwood, porcelain tiles, or Amtico flooring (or similar, for hardwearing and easy maintenance, and the décor for the whole property would be white matt emulsion for all walls and ceilings, with all woodwork painted in white eggshell ( which reduces the visibility of imperfections!). Always be strict about checking tenants! Contacting previous landlords, and be very specific about the rent being cleared funds on the due date.  Deposits taken must be part of the governments D.P.S scheme, repercussions for non-compliance are very severe, and considered open-season on the landlord, which are reflected in the punishments. A top Tommy tip: we always video the new tenants, and the condition of the complete property as a visual inventory to keep alongside the standard written one, in case of disagreements regarding property condition at the end of tenancy.



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