Whether you’ve been thinking about it and planning it for a long time, or you’ve just decided to become a buy-to-let landlord on a whim, it is important that you make sure you have all the right information before letting out to tenants. When looking at a property for the purposes of buy-to-let, much like looking at any property, you need to see what needs doing and what is in good condition if you want to let it out to tenants. In finding all this information out, you will need to request the services of a professional surveyor, who can help you.
But why a surveyor? Can I not get all this information from a viewing? Well yes and no. You might be able to identify some areas for improvement yourself and you may even notice some hidden defects, but without the help of a professional surveyor, you won’t have a clear idea of the costs needed to repair defects, whether or not anything else is affected by these defects and more. A surveyor provides a number of services designed to make your life as a buy-to-let investor much less stressful.
Minor Defects which can become Major Issues
A surveyor will be able to conduct an in depth analysis of the property in question listing any immediate defects or defects which may need repairing. If you are still planning on going ahead with the purchase, fixing these defects is essential as some smaller defects can only get worse as time goes on, leading to costly and time consuming repairs. It is better to get these issues ironed out as soon as possible in order to save on costs later on.
While you can get a reasonably accurate estimate of the value of a property by looking at similar properties in the area on local comparison websites, you won’t really know unless you get it properly valued by a surveyor. This is a good idea if you are planning on selling a property, or if you want an approximate price range for rentals, as surveyors take into account supply and demand in the area, the types of tenants you are looking to rent out to and the overall size and condition of the property in order to provide an accurate reading. It is a good idea to get a valuation from two or more surveyors if you are unsure, as they will give you a range of values that you can base your rent around.
Fire Insurance Valuations
Insuring your property in the event of a fire is a crucial part of becoming a landlord in a buy-to-let property. It is important not to over-estimate or under-estimate the value of a property as then you may end up paying more in damages or more in insurance when you could have paid less. By asking advice from a surveyor, you will receive an accurate idea of the value of the property in the event of a fire, which you can use correctly when insuring the property against damages.
Schedules of Condition and Schedules of Dilapidations
Schedules of Condition (at the start of a lease) and Schedules of Dilapidations (towards the end and at the end of a lease) are essential documents that need drawing up by landlords in order to protect their assets from extensive damage to a property during a tenant’s time living there. A surveyor will be able to draw up both documents at the relevant time and will also work to reach a satisfying conclusion for all parties in the event of a dispute.
As a new buy-to-let investor, you might want to start off small to see how you handle the extra responsibility, instead of going whole hog and buying several properties to let out all at once. Becoming a buy-to-let landlord takes a lot of responsibility and it can be a stressful job. Unless you delegate a letting agent to handle all your tenants for you, it is your responsibility to make sure everyone is happy and that nothing is broken. Conducting a detailed survey on the property in the first place is one big step to ensuring that you have a much easier time as a landlord. It is that simple!
Article provided by Chiltern Associates, an independent firm of professional surveyors and valuers with extensive experience providing building surveys in the Suffolk area.