Remote landlords are exactly what you’d expect – landlords who don’t live close to the property they’re renting out. This could be you, if you’ve bought an investment property in Glasgow but don’t live in the city. It might also be you if you used to live in Glasgow but have relocated elsewhere in the UK or if you’ve inherited a property.
Whatever your reason, being a remote landlord might seem like a potential headache. It doesn’t need to be, but you will have to be well-organised with good systems in place and the right people on the ground to help you if required.
Should I hire a property management company?
If you’re a remote landlord with a property in Glasgow, one option is to hire a property management company or letting agent to manage the rental on your behalf. Having property management in place means you know you have a local company to look after the place when you can’t and be on hand to conduct viewings, carry out tenant referencing and pick up any maintenance issues. Generally, you can choose the level of service you would like – if there are elements of the management you would like to handle yourself.
The main downside is the cost as there will be fees to pay. However, you need to consider how these stack-up against the demands on your time that managing a property remotely could bring. You also need to give careful consideration to the management company you select to ensure they will provide the right service for you.
Managing a property remotely yourself
If you’re keen to go ahead and manage your property remotely, here are our tips for making it as smooth as possible.
Have the right people on the ground
When not using a property management company, it is a good idea to have an arrangement with a trustworthy person based locally who can hold the keys to the property and be on hand if there is an issue. This could be a friend, family member, cleaner, handyman or someone you appoint for the role.
It is also important to have a list of trusted tradespeople you know you can call on if there’s an issue. You will at least need to find a good electrician and gas engineer to carry out safety checks on the property, as well as a local plumber and someone to call on if the heating system breaks down. And having a good local handyman on your books is pretty much essential for all those small jobs that can escalate if not dealt with.
Alternatively, you could consider landlord home breakdown insurance policies, so you know someone will come out if there’s an issue.
Plan how you will conduct viewings
The early stages of your property rental project are probably the hardest to manage remotely, unless you have taken on a property management company. However, the increase in virtual viewings since the pandemic means you can limit the number of people who visit the property to the seriously interested. You may need to base yourself close to the property while final viewings take place. Otherwise, you will need to call on that trusted friend again. You will also need someone on the ground to check the tenants in and out in person.
And tenant screening
Tenant screening means doing everything in your power to ensure that your new tenant will look after the property and pay their rent on time. You need to take up references with their employer and previous landlord, ask for copies of payslips and bank statements to ensure they are earning enough to afford the rent and run credit checks. This can all be done remotely. If you use a property management company, they will take care of the screening for you, or there are online services and software you could opt to use.
Go digital for documents
Look at modern secure solutions for signing tenancy agreements and other important documents.
Online rent collection
Whether you’re based in Glasgow or Ghana, it is unlikely that you’ll be sending someone round each week to collect the rent in person, so managing your rent collection remotely should make little difference. There are different payment platforms these days, but most landlords require their tenants to set up a standing order when they sign the tenancy agreement. This means the money will be paid each month by the bank as long as there are funds available. It also makes it easy for you to track payments and follow up if there are any problems.
Schedule regular property inspections
If not you, it is important for someone to visit the property to check that it is being cared for and that there are no issues the tenants haven’t mentioned. You may wish to do this more regularly in the early stages of a tenancy – maybe every three months, but you must give your tenant 48 hours written notice and get their permission first. A property manager would conduct these visits for you, or you may need to ask that trusted local person.
Be a good communicator
As a remote landlord it’s more important than ever that you keep in touch with your tenants, so be approachable, responsive and easy to get hold of. You don’t need to be local for this. Whether you wish to be contacted by phone, email, WhatsApp or text, be helpful and quick to return messages. This will mean you can keep on top of issues and maybe encourage your tenants to stay for longer.
Install a security system
Good security in the property will be a benefit to tenants and help you look after the place, particularly if it is vacant for any length of time. Consider modern tech solutions such as smart doorbells.
Make use of property management software
There are plenty of landlord software solutions that can help these days, including for financial management, contract signing and issuing reminders to keep on top of landlord responsibilities such as safety checks.
If you’re a remote landlord in Glasgow we’d love to talk to you about our range of services – so you can weigh up the pros and cons of using property management and going it alone. Give us a call today.