Investing in a buy-to-let property can, and likely will be, both an exciting and challenging time whilst you find your feet as a new landlord. Rental properties can be a great second source of income or even become your career if you feel passionately about property. However, the idea of being a landlord is often quite different to reality – tenants can be unpredictable, and things can go wrong with the property itself. Find out about the five key things to consider before becoming a landlord.

Target the right tenants

Before buying a property think about the kind of tenant you would like to target. Maybe you would like to rent to a commuting professional who will be looking for convenience of location above many other things; perhaps you want to rent multiple rooms in a single property (which will come with other challenges) or prefer families. Knowing your target market will help you select the best property and you won’t find yourself stuck with something unsuitable for your chosen target market: for example, a great small property you think would be perfect for a single professional but is just too far from transport link to appeal to them.

Don’t rush to fill your property with tenants

It’s easy to feel panic when your property stands unoccupied during the tenant search, but this isn’t the right reason to select the first people who seem good enough. This approach often has a way of working out more expensively in the long run. Whilst you don’t have to be best friends with your tenants it does help if you think they’re nice people, so don’t overlook your instincts after meeting someone! On a more practical note, especially if you’re not renting the property through an agency, make sure all the documentation you’re provided is in order and up to date.

Be hands-on

What’s meant by this is take an active interest in the state of your property throughout the year and not just when tenants move in and out. Small amounts of maintenance and repairs will ensure that your property is in good shape and nothing drastic will need changing or fixing once the move out date is due. You can create a checklist for yourself with main areas of interest, ticking them off during routine inspections. It will also show your tenants you care about their living space, hopefully inspiring them to do the same.

Don’t forget insurance

It can be tempting to think that since the property you’ve purchased is so nice and the tenants you selected are such great people that nothing could possibly go wrong, especially stuff you wouldn’t be able to take care of. But, truly, there are no guarantees. Accidents happen, and damage is almost always a probability. Having landlord’s insurance will give you peace of mind that you’re covered should something accidental or even malicious happen to your property. Click here for more details.

Know the law

Read up on the laws and regulations surrounding both landlords and tenants so you know exactly where everyone’s obligations lie. This will stop you from being surprised when tenants make requests you may think are unreasonable and vice versa, whilst also making you a responsible and knowledgeable landlord overall. It never hurts knowing your rights.