Renting a property can start as a bright idea, especially if you’re looking at somewhere you don’t use or feel could work to provide you with additional income. Now while renting is a simple enough process to carry out (after all, if it weren’t it wouldn’t be the case), if you don’t know where to start, it can be something that causes headaches and could put you out of pocket too.
With Edinburgh having such a high rate of renters, what should someone know before they become a landlord for the first time? And if you are a landlord, what mistakes do you want to avoid? Here is some practical advice on renting property in Edinburgh.
You need to register
Landlord by name. Landlord by nature. And also Landlord legally too.
If you want to rent any space at all, you have to legally register with your local council to do so. Edinburgh council states that the owner of the property is the one who must apply to be the landlord, so you can’t start renting independently or through an agent beforehand.
When you become a landlord, you can then declare if a friend, letting agent, or solicitor is going to be the one who looks after that property, i.e. actively ensures repairs are done, things are in working order, and rent is collected. Registering will only cost around £70, plus a fixed sum for each property.
This should always be the first thing anyone thinking of becoming a landlord in Edinburgh does. Why? Well, if you fail to do it correctly, the council will have no problem giving you a fine, with a maximum of £50,000. Obviously, being fined that much is few and far between, but better to have no fine than any fine at all.
Check yourself, before tenants muddy the waters
A big part of being a landlord is staying on top of things. Let one little inconvenience slide today, and there’s a handful of problems on the horizon. That is why it is imperative to get things off on the right foot by asking tenants for all the necessary information needed to check references before making any agreements.
That means looking at their references, checking credit if needed, and ensuring they legally can live in Scotland. I’m about to sound like a broken record here, but failing to do so would see a landlord get fined or even taken to court with the possibility of jail time.
Deposits are NOT your money
Everyone has had a landlord in the distant past who messed around with deposits. You don’t want to be that person for someone else. Legally, you can’t either. As soon as a tenant gives you their deposit, you have 30 days to place it in a deposit scheme. It has to be viewed as security for either side and not a bargaining chip for how much either gets when a tenancy is over.
I also recommend going this route. If you don’t, and the tenant realised as such, they can go to the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber), who may say your failure to secure the deposit means you must pay up to three times the original cost.
You don’t need to be an active landlord
Remember what I said about registering? Well, one benefit of doing so is that you can declare that someone else, or a company, is acting as landlord on your behalf. For a nominal fee, which usually is a percentage of the rent, you can have property managers look after everything for you. That’s everything from getting inspections carried out, to keeping the place clean, to getting the rent paid on time.
If you’d like to learn more about renting a property for the first time, give Ross & Liddell in Edinburgh a call. They’re locally based and work with landlords across the city who feel more comfortable having a dedicated manager look after a property on their behalf.
And don’t forget that you can stay up to date with all the latest businesses news in Edinburgh, and throughout Scotland, right here.