A private landlord is a landlord that runs their rental property or portfolio themselves.
Of course this will involve more effort and time, but there are a number of advantages for private landlords. Firstly the landlord is able to maintain full control over their properties. In addition landlords can save thousands of pounds on letting agent fees.
Things to consider as a private landlord
For many, it can be hard to manage a large property portfolio on their own. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to be a private landlord and manage your own properties, or get a letting agent or property manager.
Private landlords need to have time
You need to prepare yourself to invest a lot of time into managing your properties. This extrapolates depending on the number of properties you own.
This is because every single property needs to be in good condition as well as keeping the tenant happy.
Time needed per property will move up and down depending on your tenant.
If you have an angelic tenant, fixes a lot of the small problems themselves, pays rent on time and is happy to stay at your property for a long time – happy days!
However if you have tenants that complain over the smallest of issues, always behind on rent and intend to only stay short term… That’s a lot more of your time!
Consider the profit margins of your rental property
Every good landlord will have a strong understanding of the financials of their rental property.
Knowing the sum of your expenses & rental revenue is essential to grasping your rental profit.
Using landlord software like Landlord Vision can help you monitor your finances so you can easily keep an eye on the bottom line.
Depending on your property location, mortgage, interest rate, property type etc. you could have an extremely healthy profit. On the other hand you could be just about breaking even.
If profit is healthy, you may decide you have enough to play with to get a letting agent or property manager to free up some of your time.
Ensure you calculate your potential property agent fees & savings to understand how getting management assistance may impact your financials.
Do you have a day job alongside being a private landlord?
If you have a day job, you need to consider how that will restrict your duties as a private landlord.
You will likely receive calls from tenants during the day. Will you be able to answer?
Furthermore, if there is an issue, does your job permit you the flexibility of being able to address the issues? Possibly you’ll need to be on the phone a lot to contractors to get quotes etc.
You should also factor in your working hours. If you need to attend the property for whatever reason, does the time you leave work allow that?
Taking days off work to manage your rental property can be counter intuitive. You will be sacrificing holiday allowances to ‘work’ on your property. This may impact overall downtime in your life.
Location of your property
If your properties are far away then it’s going to be hard to manage them. You need to evaluate your location and their locations.
For example if there’s an emergency and you can’t arrive quickly, then you’re better off getting a letting agent to look after the property.
Assess where your location is and make a decision on what properties are close to you and what you can realistically manage.
This way you can manage the close properties and maybe hire an agent for further away ones.
Being a private landlord and finding the balance
You need to work hard but at the same time find a balance with your personal life.
If you don’t do this, you will eventually tire & face burnout. This is when duties start to drop and the quality of your work starts to suffer.
If you are splitting time between family, a day job and being a private landlord, in one of these disciplines a sacrifice has to be made. Family time is of course precious to all of us. However if your day job & private landlord duties are putting a strain on your life, you should looking at getting a property agent for assistance.
When you are managing multiple properties this means that you have to deal with a lot of people. This means you need to be a confident and understanding landlord that can help tenants with their needs.
As a landlord you have to make big decisions. What should your rent be? Which contractor to use? How to respond to unjust tenant demands?
Finally then there are the awkward conversations with late rent. If a tenant is continuously late with rent, a stern word may be required.
Late rent can put you in financial difficulty which can damage your own credit rating.
Private landlords need to be careful that chasing rent doesn’t border on harassment. Tenants still have rights even though they are behind on rent. If tenants complain to the council, you may have a legal issue on your hands.
More and more we are seeing regulation increase in the rental industry. The biggest recent hitting regulation was the ban on a subset of tenant fees.
Private landlords, letting agents & property managers can no longer charge tenancy renewal, referencing and a range of ad-hoc fees.
As the regulatory landscape is continuously moving, a proportion of a private landlord’s time needs to be spent on staying on top of regulation.
Aside from regulation on fees, there are also growing fire, gas & electric safety regulations landlords need to stay on top of.
These if not followed, and if the worst was to happen, could have serious consequences that may result in physical harm to the tenant.
Part time or hobbyist private landlords therefore put themselves at risk of prosecution if standards across a range of regulations are not adhered to
Private landlords have to find tenants
Private landlords need to find tenants themselves. Knowing the best way to find tenants and get a let agreed is therefore key.
The clear and obvious way is to post on Zoopla & RightMove. However the costs for these portals are usually based on a large volume of properties being posted, as opposed to 1 or 2 via a private landlord.
As the fees make posting on these portals unfeasible for private landlords, alternatives need to be looked at.
There are a range of PropTech sites that cater to private landlords. These portals allow you to post your rental property in the absence of a letting agent. Fees are more suitable to private landlords as opposed to the bigger players that focus on letting agents and property managers.
You will need to be aware that these portals may not be as popular as the big 2. This could result in your property not being let as fast as compared to if it was posted on Zoopla or RightMove.
If you’re a private landlord and looking to move fast with filling your property, there are letting agent & property manager services that may help.
Increasingly agents are offering tenant find only services.
You pay a one off fee and the agent posts on the biggest portals on your behalf.
There are no ongoing monthly fees for you to pay or tenancy renewal fees needing to be paid to the agent.
Private landlords & conducting viewings
Conducting viewings is also a requirement private landlords to manage.
Getting leads/calls from tenants, arranging times and conducting the viewings themselves all need to be taken care of.
The organisation of arranging times can be cumbersome. More so if you have a day job. If you aren’t flexible on times of viewings, you may lose potential tenants.
The viewings themselves some private landlords can find tough.
You need to be prepared to sell the good points of the property and reply to difficult questions about some of the areas the property lacks.
It’s essential to not take negative feedback on the property personal. You may have decorated the property yourself recently and spent a lot of time making it look nice. A potential tenant complaining how the decoration is done to a low quality can be hard to swallow!
Private landlords – so is it for you?
There are numerous advantages in being a private landlord. You retain full ownership and control of how the property is run.
In addition the financial benefit of not paying letting agent or property manager fees can stack up.
However if you’re going the private management route, you need time.
You’ll be on point for finding tenants, collecting rent, fixing issues etc.
At times you may find yourself out of your comfort zone and having difficult conversations with tenants. Keeping your emotions in check is essential.
In addition, staying on top of regulatory movements can be difficult. The landscape is ever moving and the standards are always on the rise.
As mentioned previously, hybrid options are available. Private landlords may opt for a letting agent or a property manager to conduct a subset of activities on their behalf.
Examples would be getting the agent to only find tenants, or to only conduct inspections when due.
This enables private landlords to balance the job or managing the property, while maintaining control and not paying agent fees related to full management of the property.
Are you a tenant looking for a private landlord?
There are a few ways to find private landlords in your area and most of them involve utilizing the Internet.
Online Property Portals
Most landlords will advertise their properties on popular portals like Zoopla and Rightmove. Here, you’ll get a better idea of what types of properties are available and what you can afford. You’ll see pictures of the rental, pricing, and details about its size, location, and amenities.
Regardless of how good the property looks or sounds online, never offer any money or make a payment before seeing the property in person. Looks can be deceiving. Visiting the property might uncover some major inconsistencies, maintenance issues, or you may discover the location isn’t what you expected.
Ask a Letting Agent for Help
Similar to how an estate agent can help you find a home to buy, letting agents are skilled in finding properties to let. Not only do they have access to premium listings but they’ll hear about a new listing before it hits the general market.
This gives you a leg-up on the competition. Your agent may even get early access to certain listings so you can secure the property before another tenant swoops in.
Always use a reputable letting agent with good reviews, plenty of experience, and knowledge of the current market and your local area. A reliable letting agent will disclose what redress scheme they’re a member of so you know that your deposit is secure.
Check Local Notice Boards and Newspapers
Not all landlords post their rental properties through online portals. Local newspapers are a great place to find local listings in your area. Most papers have sections dedicated to advertising houses or flats to rent.
Notice boards outside of local businesses, libraries, and community centers may also have paper fliers advertising rooms, flats, or houses to rent. Write down the contact information and give them a call.
Some advertisements will list the landlord’s personal number while others will provide contact information for the landlord’s letting agent or property manager. If you’re working with a letting agent, tell them about the property and let them handle the logistics.
Advertising isn’t just for landlords and property owners. This is a valuable technique for finding private landlords that is often overlooked.
Just as landlords advertise their property based on price, size, and location, as a buyer, you can advertise what you’re looking for. Create an advert detailing the type of rental you’re looking for, including size, location, and price.
Free websites like Gumtree and Spareroom let you advertise for free! You can also take advantage of the notice boards mentioned earlier. Most shop owners will let both landlords and tenants post their adverts on these boards.
How to Find Private Landlords that Accept DSS?
Are you renting on a budget? Finding a private landlord that accepts tenant benefits can be a huge help.
DSS stands for Department of Social Security. When a tenant is paying rent using DSS it means that all or some of the rent payments will be paid using benefit payments. Although DSS hasn’t been in existence since 2001, many tenants are still using these benefits to help offset their cost of living.
While some landlords may be hesitant to accept DSS tenants, having a “no DSS” policy is considered unlawful discrimination.
There are a few ways to find landlords that openly and willingly accept benefit payments.
Once again, it’s the worldwide web to the rescue! Head online and search for affordable properties for tenants claiming benefits.
You can search on sites like Spareroom and LettingaProperty.com. You can also check social media groups and online forums for landlords advertising they accept DSS payments.
Be aware of online scams! Because it’s difficult to find landlords that willingly accept benefit payments, scammers create fake listings for properties that don’t really exist or are unavailable. Then, these con artists charge an exorbitant upfront fee before disappearing.
Beware of private landlords that ask for payment upfront and are unwilling to disclose what redress scheme they’re a member of.
Once you start your online search for low-income rentals, you might start receiving emails or texts from scammers that accessed your information. These emails and texts might include information about government loans or universal credit.
Check with Your Local Council
Some local councils keep a list of private landlords in the area who rent to tenants claiming DSS benefits.
In some areas, the council is actually responsible for helping you find somewhere to live if you receive a section 21 notice or are at risk of eviction or homelessness.
In addition to DSS benefits, low-income tenants may be eligible to receive DHPs (or discretionary housing payments) from the council to help with rent payments, advanced rent, or a deposit.
Use a Letting Agent
Letting agents aren’t just for landlords. They can also help tenants find rental properties — even those that accept DSS payments.
If you see a listing that contains a “no DSS” policy, it’s your right to report it. These are statements that indicate a tenant will not accept housing benefits or universal credit.
Listing agents who refuse to work with you because of your low-income status are also acting unlawfully. However, letting agents are within their rights to ask tenants to pass an affordability check.
These guidelines protect both the rights of tenants using DSS benefits and landlords that need reliable rental income.
Help to Rent Database
Certain websites and organizations are designed specifically to help low-income tenants secure affordable housing. Help to Rent is one such database established by the homeless charity, Crisis.
The database lists schemes throughout the UK that help tenants find and secure private tenancy. Most of these schemes are designed for single individuals facing homelessness and may offer continued support after you’ve moved into your rental property.
Prove You Can Afford It
While there’s plenty of resources available to help you find landlords that accept DSS benefits, they need (and deserve) some protection also. Show the landlord that you can be taken seriously by proving your income.
Provide bank statements and other documentation that shows you’re already paying rent higher or equivalent to the property you’re interested in. If possible, show proof of consistent, timely payments.
Need help finding properties within your budget? Check the LHA rate (local housing allowance). These rates are used to determine the housing benefits for private renters or universal credit.
Offer Rent or a Deposit in Advance
Another way to show good faith is by offering to pay rent in advance or paying a deposit. This shows the landlord that you can afford the payments and that you’re a responsible tenant.
Because most benefits are paid in arrears, some landlords are leery to work with low-income tenants. If possible, pay the first 2 months’ rent in advance to give the landlord a sense of security.
Most benefits are processed and paid on the same day each month so you can set up direct deposit payments in the future.
If you don’t have the money to offer rent in advance, a DWP loan might help. These interest-free loans are paid back using deductions from your future benefit payments.
Many rental agreements include a tenancy deposit. This deposit is protected in a redress scheme. If the landlord you’re working with requires a deposit, it should never exceed more than 5 weeks’ rent.
You should also receive the deposit back at the end of your agreement. The landlord can legally deduct money for any damages or missed rent payments from this deposit.
Some landlords use deposit replacement insurance for those tenants who can’t afford a large payment upfront. These non-refundable fees are paid at the start of the tenancy and often total a single week’s rent.
Although this initial payment is much less than most deposits, tenants don’t receive it back.
Be Honest About Your Credit
You want to keep a positive relationship with your landlord, which is why you should be upfront from the start.
Landlords are entitled to run a credit check on all tenants, even those using benefit payments. If you don’t think you’ll pass a credit check, tell the landlord or letting agent and suggest alternative ways for them to check your credibility and reliability.
Some landlords won’t require a credit check if you’ve already provided rent in advance, references, or a guarantor.
Find a Guarantor
Speaking of a guarantor, securing one might help you secure the rental property of your dreams. Some landlords will require a guarantor before signing a tenancy agreement.
Similar to a co-signer on a loan, guarantors agree to cover all costs if the tenant fails to pay their rent on time or damages the property. A trusted friend or family member can make the perfect guarantor. Be aware that these individuals are also subject to provide an affordability check and undergo a credit check.
Tenants are not legally required to have a guarantor. If you’ve already shown you’re a reliable candidate, you may not need to secure one.
Finding a property manager or letting agent
If you have decided a letting agent or property manager is for you, Rentround can help find the best agent & save on fees.
Type in your postcode & a few details about your property below.
Rentround will then show you fees, location, ratings and regulatory affiliations of property agents in your area.
The service is completely free for landlords.