The big day is less than a week away, and we hope you’ll have the chance to take some well-earned time off.
As well as the usual overspending, overeating and overindulging, the festive break gives landlords a chance to review their business and think about what comes next. And if you can limit your intake of mulled wine and eggnog, you can do it all with a clear head!
Christmas provides all sorts of opportunities, including:
- filing your tax return long before the deadline
- strengthening relationships with your tenants
- ensuring your rental home survives winter in one piece
- checking and improving vacant properties
- planning the future of your portfolio.
As luck would have it, all of these are covered in this week’s blog. So make yourself a cuppa, find a cosy corner where you won’t be disturbed, and let’s dive in.
TICK OFF YOUR TAX RETURN
Everyone knows the self-assessment deadline for filing your tax return is January 31st, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until 11pm on the day to start filing your tax return! Instead, use the Christmas holidays to get your paperwork together in a relaxed and organised fashion.
- If you’re filing your own return online, make sure you have your Government Gateway code (it can take up to 10 days to get one if you’re enrolling for the first time), then sign in to be sure your login details work.
- Break up the tasks into manageable chunks to avoid getting overwhelmed – an hour a day can soon mount up without intruding on your time off.
- Gather all your receipts and invoices together before starting the filing process including paper copies, email order confirmations and online statements.
- Check the Government’s website to ensure you claim all your allowances, as there may be more than you realise.
We go into a lot more detail around allowances to claim, efficient expenditure and easier accounting in our earlier blog on Landlord Tax Tips, so why not take a look?
SHARE SEASON’S GREETINGS
Christmas is the perfect time of year to get in touch and reconnect, so drop your tenants a quick text or Whatsapp with some friendly seasonal greetings. You could even attach a digital card to avoid the traditional postal delays.
- Ask in your message if everything’s running smoothly or if something needs attending to, no matter how small.
- Add that you’ve sent your tenants an email with some winter tips on keeping their home safe and secure in case they’ll be away (more on that in the next section).
- If you’ve got a great relationship with your tenants and hope to keep them for the longer term, show your appreciation with a bottle of wine or box of chocolates.
Small gestures really do go a long way, and wishing your tenants the best for the Christmas season is an easy win that strengthens your relationship by showing that you care.
CHECK WHO’S HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Many tenants go away over the festive break, from short visits to family and friends to a proper winter holiday. Regardless of how long they’re gone, your property must stay safe and protected to maintain insurance cover and all-round peace of mind.
So whether or not you know your tenant’s plans, email them a helpful checklist of things to tick off in case they leave, including:
- locking up doors, windows, side gates and sheds, and setting the alarm
- where to turn the water off, and, if your property is prone to frozen pipes over a lengthy cold spell, how to drain down the system
- emptying the mailbox to avoid the post sticking out for days on end
- asking a friend or relative to pop round once or twice if your tenant will be away for more than a few days
- letting you know if they’ll be gone for more than 14 consecutive days in case your insurance providers need to be told.
These might seem obvious, but things can easily get overlooked in the excitement of going away, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry, particularly during the winter months.
COMPLETE A CHRISTMAS CHECK-UP
If you’re between tenants over the festive season, it’s the perfect time to visit your property, check that all is well, and even give it some love. Once you’ve looked outside for slipped tiles and blocked gutters and drains, it’s time to head on in.
- Test that everything works, from the boiler, heating and hot water to any appliances, light fittings and locks.
- Look for leaks from above, mouldy sealant or ceilings around showers and baths, and pools of water under sinks, water tanks and radiators.
- Pick up a bargain in the January sales to replace outdated appliances – tenants love a shiny new label to peel off after moving in.
- Brighten up any dowdy decoration – nothing beats freshly painted walls for a feel of an exciting new start.
- Fit easy draft exclusion measures to windows, letterboxes and under doors, then fill any holes or cracks around window frames, skirting and between floorboards.
Do you want to go deeper in making your rental property irresistible to tenants? Then take a look at our previous blog on styling a rental home without using furniture for many more expert tips.
PLAN FOR PEACE & PROSPERITY
Is your rental home a magnet for the best tenants in the area, or could it perform better with some well-chosen improvements? Perhaps you’d even like to expand your buy-to-let business?
Whether you’re acquiring a new property or upgrading an existing one, the key to success is optimising the rental income and raising the sales value with a wildly popular home. So look for the following opportunities to reap the full potential of your investments.
- Install powerful energy-saving measures, from insulating walls, floors and lofts to replacing drafty old windows with modern double glazing.
- Attract higher-earning tenants by replacing outdated kitchens and bathrooms, or upgrading old carpets to stylish timber floors.
- Remodel the interior, convert a loft, or add an extension to update the design, increase the number of bedrooms, or appeal to an upscale audience.
When you’re carrying out major work, balancing expenditure with cash flow is essential. So make a plan for what you want to do, then set aside some of the rent each month to build up a fund. You can even complete the work in phases to avoid raiding your savings.
To make improvements now, check if you can release enough equity from your rental home to cover the cost of the work. Alternatively, and the cheapest option if you’re disciplined enough, find a credit card with a 0% interest offer to spread the payments over a couple of years.
Is your rental property ready for Christmas and beyond?
If you’re a landlord in Mid Devon, we’d love to help you optimise your lettings portfolio for a profitable 2023 and beyond, so call us on 01363 777 999 or email us at [email protected] for a friendly and expert chat.
All that remains is to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year that brings you everything you’re hoping for, and perhaps even more!