Deciding to invest in a rental property may seem daunting, especially if you have little experience managing your own property, for example if you have been a tenant most of your life, or are going to invest in a completely different type of property than the one you live in. Knowing what is required in a flat compared to a house, the extra things you need to think about, like choosing to furnish or rent unfurnished, keeping a list of trustworthy tradesmen to look after the property if you can’t go on site easily to make repairs and perform seasonal maintenance, making sure you run a profitable operation… All this takes time and some serious thinking before you jump in and put your hard earned savings into such an endeavour.
But thankfully, there are a lot of tools to make your life easier. Technology now allows you to automate most of the minutiae and spend your time where it really matters. For example, with my rental property, all my earnings and expenses are automated, safe for the unexpected repairs, which I am lucky do not happen that often. Tenants pay their rent by standing order every month on the first, then during the rest of the month, the council tax, electric bills, building maintenance and other expenses are automatically paid by direct debit. I remember 20 years ago when my mother had to pay a personal visit to our tenant every single month to charge the rent, and come back a few more times if they didn’t have it handy in the first place. Just those automated money transfers may be saving me a day each month!
It is also very convenient to opt for paperless billing with your utility provider (generally they will even throw in a discount), as you can search into the archives and find the last bills, consumption and tariffs easily.
Another handy tool is the new mobile Landlord app from Direct Line for Business, that allows you to keep all of your rental properties’ key information in one handy app on your phone. In just a few clicks, you can know how much revenue you are generating, calculate the yield of your investment, or find the repairman’s phone details and arrange for a house call.
With the Landlord app, you can store details for up to five rental properties, complete with tenants’ contact information, other key contacts, your money incomings and outgoings. Instead of having to go through your archives to find out a specific term of the contract, or how much the plumber charged last time to get there and fix your boiler, you can simply see it all on your phone.
The Landlord app also has a reminder service which will alert you if an action is required on your side regarding the rental property. You can input tenants visits for example, or the next homeowner association meeting, and recurring tasks like preparing the house for winter during the last days of October. It takes little work to input all this data into the app, and can be very valuable to be able to access all this information in one click when you need it. I do still keep a scan of the tenants’ agreement, their IDs… but instead of having to dig into the hard drive to find their details, I can now use an app to retrieve it in a matter of minutes.
You can learn more about the Landlord app on Youtube.