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Top tips for landlords to help tenants during the cost of living crisis

Top tips for landlords to help tenants during the cost of living crisis

With the average UK household predicted to spend 54% of their post-tax income on rent and household bills by the end of 2022, it’s clear that the pressure on landlords and tenants financials is set to increase.

To help ease the financial pressure, we’ve put together our top tips for landlords to help tenants amid the cost-of-living crisis.

 

Prepare an information pack for new tenants to reduce maintenance costs

Ongoing maintenance costs can be one of the biggest expenses for a landlord, but providing tenants with information on keeping the property well-maintained from the outset could help to reduce repair bills and stop minor issues becoming a much larger costly problem.

An information pack for tenants should include the following information:

  • How to use appliances
  • Operating heating systems
  • Preventing mould and pests
  • Ventilating the property
  • How to report faults and maintenance issues
  • What to do in the event of an emergency, like a burst pipe

 

Be open and communicate regularly with your tenants

Understanding the financial position of your tenants will help ensure that decisions you make are fully thought through. Raising the rent on your property without giving a reasonable amount of notice will put strain on your relationship with your tenants if they cannot afford a sudden rise in their monthly outgoings. This could lead them into rent arrears – a stressful situation that is of no benefit to anyone.

Along with understanding their situation, you can also communicate the financial pressures you are under so that they’re aware of the rising costs affecting you too. This should help both sides to empathise and work together through the cost-of-living crisis.

If you have rent guarantee insurance you may need to complete a new tenant reference check if you increase the rent on your property.

 

Invest in improving your property’s energy efficiency

Approximately a quarter (26%) of landlords have already made energy efficiency upgrades to conform with Government legislation and help reduce bills. Some of the smaller home improvements you can make include installing insulation, draught-proofing, and fitting LED lighting. There are more costly improvements that can be made, but as the Government looks to raise the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating to a C or above for all newly rented properties from 2025, it will be inevitable that landlords who wish to continue renting out their property will have to invest in its energy efficiency.

Research also shows that 52% of tenants are happy to pay more for a greener house, so it should prove beneficial in the long-run.

For further information, take a look at our article on how to improve your EPC rating.

 

Make sure energy bills are correct

The energy crisis has left many of us in the same boat – the days of shopping around to fix gas and energy at a cheaper rate are long gone, replaced with help from the Government in the form of the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS).

However, there are some measures landlords and tenants can take to ensure they’re not paying over the odds.

  • If you’re provider offers one, have a smart meter installed. This will allow tenants to keep a daily track of what they’re spending and automatically ensures that bills are based on actual readings.
  • If a smart meter isn’t an option, make sure to regularly provide actual meter readings to your energy supplier.
  • Compare your energy bills with neighbours and similar properties to check that your tenants are paying a reasonable amount. If your bills are wildly different to your neighbours, it’s worth having a conversation with your supplier.

Helping to relieve the pressure of rising bills on your tenants should help to boost retention and reduce periods where your property is vacant.

 

Check your tax band, eligibility for council tax discounts and Government financial support

Around 46.1% of council tax banding challenges made last year were successful in reducing their band. To check your property is in the correct banding you can compare with neighbouring properties or run a 1991 valuation check. There are reductions available for empty properties and single-person discounts which can reduce your council tax bill between 25 – 100%.

The Government has also announced a range of additional support to help households through this winter which your tenants may be entitled to. It’s worth highlighting the support available and urging your tenants to check if they are eligible, including any schemes which existed prior to the recent additional support.

Additional support for this winter includes:

  • The Energy Bills Support Scheme – A £400 payment to all households split over five months. If you or your tenant pay your energy supplier by direct debit then the payments are credited to your account. If you have a pre-payment meter this will be delivered in the form of a voucher to either you or your tenant.
  • Cost of Living Payment – Those in receipt of certain benefits are eligible for a £650 one-off payment, which is split into two instalments.
  • Pensioner Cost of Living Payment – Those who are eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment will receive an additional £300 payment.
  • Disability Cost of Living Payment – Those in receipt of certain disability payments and allowances are eligible for a one-off payment of £150.

If your tenant hasn’t received a payment that they believe they are entitled to, they can report a missing payment here.

 

Finally, while landlords will be as flexible as they can, they should consider whether they want to take out insurance to protect against potential lost rental income. To work out whether it would be worthwhile for you, you should consider whether you would be able to meet all your financial commitments if your tenant defaulted on their rent (either a one-off or for a prolonged period), and if you could cope without a rental income for several months if you needed to find new tenants.

Legal expenses and rent guarantee insurance is available to landlords to protect against tenant defaults and legal assist with regaining possession of your property. To find out more, speak to one of our advisers on 01603 216399.

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