As the holidays get nearer and nearer, landlords slowly succumb to the holiday spirit but as december ends, landlords should take care of a handful of minor yet important tasks:
1. Getting Their Self-Assessment End of Year Tax Return Ready
Buy-To-Let property businesses can be profitable but where there’s profit the tax man is lurking closely behind, landlords should be prepared to file their end of year self-assessment tax return in to HMRC in January, as missing the deadline could become very costly. Property Investors, here are a few laws you need to be aware of. Now let’s get to the point.
If simple DIY tips are not sufficient, it’s advisable to hire an accountant if you are unsure of calculating all of the exemptions and off-setting the acceptable expenses to your property business. An accountant might cost a bit more than going it alone but for those who find crunching numbers more than just a chore, it’s a really big help.
Landlord’s can face hefty fines and incur interest on overdue, late or incorrect payments of up to 0% – 30% of the extra tax due, so in the run up to Christmas, it’s a good idea for landlords to double check their self-assessment tax return forms to avoid any expensive mistakes in the new year.
2. Wish Your Tenants a Happy Christmas
It’s a good idea for landlords to send their tenants a Christmas card or e-card not only to help build their relationship with their tenants but it’s also a good chance to offer them the opportunity to raise any repairs or concerns that they may have before the Christmas holidays.
Tenants will appreciate the gesture and as they are a customer of their landlord, it will help them to feel valued and will encourage them to open up conversations should things not be to their satisfaction.
3. Book in Emergency Repairs Before Christmas Week
New research from TheHouseShop.com found that tradesmen can charge up to 50% more for an emergency repair over the Christmas period so landlord’s will be better off booking in urgent repairs in early December in order to avoid paying higher costs.
This potential price increase is largely in part due to many trade businesses being family owned and run, as many trade business owners view Christmas as a special time to spend with their families and friends. Many business owners in the trade industry will choose to close their doors between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Those businesses that choose to remain open reported that many would struggle to find staff willing and able to work during the festive season, as many of their employees save up their annual leave for Christmas.
Finding reliable repairmen during the holidays has always been a hefty task. For what we’ve noticed, a decent percentage of all professionals we hire to repair our properties throughout the year are either raising their charges or even directly canceling jobs.” – Tom Davies, a property developer at Accelerate Homes (UK).
4. Find Out If Your Tenants Are Vacating the Property
It’s a good idea for landlords to find out if and for how long their tenants are planning on leaving the property vacant during the festive season. Many landlords forget to check their building insurance policies as in this instance they could be whilst their properties are left vacant.
Landlords could also use this time when the property is empty to carry out an inspection and to flag any areas that will need to be maintained better or repaired in the new year.
5. Double check the property is secure
If the tenants are vacating the property over the festive period, it is a good idea for landlords to pop round to double check that they have locked the doors and windows in order to deter thieves. Christmas is a period where burglaries rise as criminals take advantage of empty properties and not to mention the enticing presents that are left underneath the tree.
As mentioned previously, Landlords could be charged 50% more to repair a broken window or door in the aftermath of a Christmas burglary, so it is definitely worth their time to make sure the property is secure. This guide has useful tips for reducing the risk of residential burglaries.
Although these top 5 areas cover the major concerns landlords face during Christmas, it is also worth warning their tenants about fire hazards that certain Christmas decorations can pose and to ask them to keep an eye on the plumbing. The last thing landlords need is to deal with is a phone call from their tenants about a burst pipe during Christmas dinner!
One way to avoid the risk of this happening is to ask your tenants to leave the heating on at a low setting, just to make sure the water can flow easily.
Another key point is to inspect all smoke & carbon detectors. You would not want to be a victim of chance.
6. Check if the emergency contacts are valid and working.
If your tenants are about to leave the property, make sure their emergency contacts are available and responding. All you need to do is a polite call to check if everything is okay. The same applies for landlords as well. In case you’re about to leave the country or go on a vacation – make sure your emergency contact will be available in case of need. Here’s an example:
- For renters:
I’ve provided my tenants the following information (in the same written letter which mentioned my annual leave dates):
Who their emergency person of contact is
- For the person being the emergency contact:
I’ve provided the person stated as my emergency contact the following:
Name, address, mobile number for each renter.
- Details on how how to access the spare keys to each rental (in case of an emergency problem).
Sometimes something as simple as a leaky tap could result in severe damage. Make sure you’ve arranged immediate access to the property in case of need.
7. Double check if your property insurance is up to date.
The property itself and all inventory should fall under public liability insurance. It is important to double-check if your current insurance policy handles holiday lets as well. Make sure everything is legally-fit and in compliance with your interest.
Landlord’s should be able to relax and enjoy a merry Christmas safe in the knowledge that they have taken care of their properties and tenants by following these recommended steps. The lack of motivation is often the sole reason for neglecting these simple yet important tasks.
* The piece was written by the charming Clare Sleeman, a dedicated writer specialising in property news, market reviews, interior and exterior design, trends and innovation.