British Insurance issues tips for new landlords

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As demand for privately rented properties continues to grow and rental costs reach record highs, an increasing number of people are becoming first-time landlords to generate extra income. Landlord insurance provider British Insurance offers 10 tips to help landlords protect themselves, their tenants and maximise their investment.

1. Be Prepared - Before potential tenants view the property, have it cleaned and finish simple DIY jobs. Will the let be furnished or not? Wider insurance cover is needed if ‘contents’ are provided.

2. Safety First - Comply with fire, gas, electric, appliance and furniture regulations and install fire and carbon monoxide alarms. Regular checks must be undertaken and records kept, if not, tenants could be at risk and the landlord insurance may be invalidated.

3. Letting Agent or DIY - Letting agents are great for landlords who do not have time to manage the process, however, they will take between 8-15% of the rental income profit. In return they source tenants, check references and provide a daily contact point should there be any problems. Compare agents to see who offers the best deal.

4. Finding Tenants - Those not using a letting agent will have to source tenants’ references (preferably from a previous landlord), follow-up to ensure they’re genuine and carry out credit checks to verify the tenants’ identity and their ability to pay rent. Landlords using letting agents should get involved with tenant interviews – it’s important to be comfortable with the person moving in.

5. Legal Rights – Both sides have rights and it’s vital to be aware of them. For example, landlords must give at least 24 hours notice if intending to enter the tenant’s home, there should be clear guidelines on whose responsibility it is to upkeep the property and clear procedures relating to tenant eviction. Use a letting agent or solicitor to help with Tenancy Agreements or download templates from various landlord associations.

6. Deposits - To protect against any tenant damage, it’s common to insist on a deposit of between four and six weeks rent. Since April 2007, all tenants’ deposits must be registered with an approved Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) scheme. If a deposit isn’t protected when required, tenants can instigate court proceedings and three times as much may have to be paid.

7. Inventory - A detailed and accurate inventory is crucial, particularly if letting a furnished property as it proves how the property looked and what was provided the day the tenant moved in. It should be clear and easy to understand and contain photos of some of the property’s items. Once both sides sign it, it’s a useful reference tool in the event of a dispute.

8. Landlord Insurance - Most standard house insurance policies won’t provide the level of cover landlords need. As well as building and contents, a good landlord policy should cover;professionals, students and DSS tenants, loss of rent, unoccupied periods, alternative accommodation, tracing and accessing leaks, accidental damage, legal expenses and liabilities, plus rent protection.

9. Eviction - The majority of Tenancy Agreements come to a natural and amicable end, but if problems do occur, landlords must supply ‘good proof’ for eviction, such as non-payment of rent for more than eight weeks or breaking the terms of the Tenancy Agreement. Eviction proceedings start with the serving of a Section 8 Notice, which gives the tenant 14 days to respond. If there’s still no resolution, apply to the Court for a Possession Order.

10. Vacant Periods – If a property’s left vacant, give the impression it’s lived in. Collect the post regularly, open and close blinds or curtains and use a lighting timer. If there’s a driveway and it’s possible, park a car there. Ensure the landlord policy covers vacant periods.
Nel Mooy, Managing Director British Insurance, comments: “Our tips will hopefully be a good starting point for new landlords. Despite recent rental trends not everything is on the increase - our premiums have reduced by an average of 26% and those letting to students alone can take advantage of a 33% price cut. This is good news for parents who responded to a recent survey* stating they would consider purchasing a student buy-to-let property to fund their children’s university education.”

British Insurance extended its product range earlier this year, widening its offering beyond its reputable Payment Protection products. Alongside PPI and landlord cover, the firm has policies for people with overseas and UK holiday/second homes and unoccupied properties.

To found out more about landlord insurance and to view other products in its portfolio visit http://www.britishinsurance.com

Note to Editors

  • Research carried out by Opinion Matters on behalf of HSBC among a sample of 1000 parents with children under the age of 18 years between 22nd and 29th June 2011.

British Insurance is a widely-recognised consumer champion and one of the UK’s leading independent providers of Payment Protection Insurance. It is a trading name of Towergate Underwriting Group Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

British Insurance has a Linked In profile at http://www.linkedin.com/company/british-insurance

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Emma Andrews

Francesca Breeze

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