Ultimate Guide For New & First-Time Landlords

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If you’re a new or prospective landlord, the best place to start is my Landlord Guide, which is 100% free to download. It contains an accumulation of articles I’ve written over several years which I believe are most suitable for inexperienced landlords.

Before you begin this journey through the Ultimate Landlord Guide, I want to clarify, this guide is written for private sector UK Landlords in England & Wales with single tenanted properties (e.g. NOT for Houses in Multiple Occupation). However, it still may prove useful in elements for all UK based landlords as it covers good general practices.

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  • 28 chapters included, from buying the ideal BTL property to finding the perfect tenants!
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Disclaimer: this is just a general guide to lettings for Landlords in England & Wales. Any legal information provided is not legal advice and should not be treated as such. The legal information in this guide/eBook is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied. You should seek help from a professional for any legal matters.

The backstory (if you’re interested)…

I still clearly remember when I was first started flirting with the idea of buying my first buy-to-let property and becoming a landlord. But not just any old landlord, a filthy rich one, with the resources to make ludicrous and lavish purchases without blinking an eyelid, like an exotic and rare lizard. I don’t even like lizards, they make for a ridiculous purchase and pet, but exotic pets just scream pomposity and success- so why not? Does any of this sound familiar? Not necessarily the exotic lizard part, but the filthy rich part and the concept of being able to buy an old shit without financial restraints. Yes? Good.

I’m still pursuing my millions, and I don’t actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I’ve got the ball in motion, I have a few BTL’s- and getting started is the hardest part.

However, at the very beginning I was clueless, it was pathetic, I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I had a goal, but not a single inclination of how to achieve it. Sound familiar? Good, because you’ve probably come to the right place then.

For me, the whole prospect of buying a house was overwhelming, let alone taking on the responsibility of being a landlord, a first-time landlord.

How does it work? What are the laws? Do I need to be qualified? They were just a few of the questions that ran through my mind, and I didn’t no where to find the answers. But the scariest aspect, which I still believe to be true for every first-time landlord, is the idea of investing so much money into something we know so little about. What if I lose it all?

I’ve seen other people do it successfully, and they make it look and sound easy. But the prospect is unbelievably scary when you’re dealing with our own money, right? I’m surprised I didn’t physically shit my pants when I transferred the deposit for my first BTL purchase, although I’m pretty sure I did in every metaphorical way possible. Scary.

I purchased my first BTL before buying my own house, so I was clueless and inexperienced in every aspect, but that didn’t stop me from pursuing my goal. Granted, it took me almost 2 years of just “contemplating” before actually getting the ball rolling, so it wasn’t just a case of “doing it” There’s no big-talk here, just the ramblings of a once petrified and unknowing prospective landlord that eventually found his shrivelled-up, raisin balls. Now, let me help you find yours… they’re in there somewhere, I know they are!

So where should I start? My first port of call was to do research, and lots of it. Apparently research is key. It’s boring as shit, which makes it a soul-destroying task, but it’s key. I wanted to maximise my chances of being successful so I figured learning some practical knowledge would be the best way.

Like the typical modern man/woman, I started my quest by scouring the internet for useful websites that could assist me with my pursuit to happiness. I found little, and the little I did find didn’t make sense to me and mostly wanted me to part with my cash to learn more. All I wanted was a one-stop shop, a step-by-step guide/resource in layman’s terms so I could understand the process of becoming a legitimate landlord. I couldn’t find it. But evidently, there was no shortage of virtual dogshit.
I read what I found and I learned what I could, but I can honestly say that I didn’t know anywhere near enough. In retrospect, it’s incredible I made it through my first purchase. But my inexperience (and lack of research) didn’t go unpunished; I made many stupid mistakes, which primarily consisted of overpaying for services I didn’t need, and neglecting laws I didn’t know existed. Guilty.

But the truth is, no matter what you read, no matter how much you listen, or who you listen to, the best way to learn is by actually doing it and putting yourself through the grinder. You’ll never fully understand the landlord cycle until you go through it several times over. However, that’s not to say researching is a total waste of time. I still wish I had an easy to digest step-by-step guide for new landlords so I had better direction.

My point is, no one can teach you everything about being a landlord, not even the experts, and no one can fully prepare you. So, while the steep learning curve is unavoidable – no matter how much research you endure – there is definitely perks to grinding through the mundane homework in order to substantially minimise risk. And hopefully, the homework doesn’t have to be utterly painful, especially since I’ve [attempted to] throw together an easy guide for new, prospective, and accidental landlords– something I wish I had found when I started pursuing the idea of becoming a landlord. It covers the key steps of becoming a landlord, so you can at least understand the process (without having to shuffle through several resources, and/or read a book thicker than my…). I’ve tried to put each point in order of occurrence.

You never know, after you read it, the idea of being a landlord may not seem so appealing. Or you may want it even more than ever. I hope it helps either way.

69 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Showing 19 - 69 comments (out of 69)
1 out of 5 rating2 out of 5 rating3 out of 5 rating4 out of 5 rating5 out of 5 rating17 people have rated the Ultimate Guide For New & First-Time Landlords4.9 out of 5 Stars.Leave your Comment / Review
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Elliot Rowe 21st July, 2014 @ 20:32

Really great site, finding it useful , interesting and informative, had my first unexpected hiccup of GATEKEEPING , thankfully that is over ,

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Nick f 24th July, 2014 @ 21:49

Hi guys
I have recently just brought a nice 3 bed house and am hoping to make the next step with my girlfriend, however currently she has her own 2 bed cottage that is under her name and not as a but to let, she has informed me she has £6000 she still had to pay on her mortgage before she can let it out, unfortunately I'm new to the house market, but is their anyway way around this as I am hoping to get on with our lives and as a house is the best type off investment I really do not want her to sell it
Will she need to change mortgage lender or will they all say the same thing?

Please help on my options...

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Arthur Kitson 11th September, 2014 @ 13:03

Hi - smashing site & very useful.
I decided to use a well-known & apparently reliable High Street agency to manage my property. It was my family home, the market in Hastings was very slow, so I raised a mortgage, moved, handed over my lovely Edwardian detached house to the Agents.
They found a tenant & their blurb said they did extremely thorough research into the prospective tenant, landlord surveys, bank references & arranged direct debit/standing order rent payments......
Now that the tenancy has come to an end after 18 months or so (I found a purchaser for whom the house is perfect) I gave the appropriate 2 months notice through the agent. The rent had been paid very erratically, always late & never by bank transfer, usually dribs & drabs of cash into the Agents office. Rent payments then stopped altogether & one hour before the move-out inspection they announced that they were not moving! I then looked at the internet for them & found, within 5 minutes, record of his involvement with supplying drugs, prostitution, running a very disreputable drinking club, being involved with sham marriages etc! All I had from the Agent was that there were a few little 'issues', but he should be a good tenant!!
Needless to say as soon as he refused to leave, the agent declared they could do nothing more & it was up to me to get rid of them - & they couldn't give any advice either, other than to suggest a solicitor.
When it's all over I'll look for redress, but won't hold my breath - they made a lot of money for virtually nothing.

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JeffN 25th September, 2014 @ 09:06
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This guide is really useful, for both landlords and people thinking about becoming one!

Once thing on the furnished vs unfurnished section - I actually went for furnished, I wanted to appeal to young affluent working couples. So wanted to make it as easy for them to move in as possible. It does help to have a nicely furnished flat / property as people can imagine themselves living in the space - instead of glaring at bare walls. I went with a landlord "dress to let" furniture package http://www.roomservicebycort.com/property-marketing/dress-let it's quite a clever thing - I'd definitely have a look people do like to look at pretty furniture!

Hope this helps


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teapotcollector 2nd October, 2014 @ 06:04

I live in the Milton Keynes area, and I'm new to being a landlord. Can anyone recommend someone from my area to do a landlord certificate? who I believe can also do an EPC. Also, I will need an electrician to do an electrical landlord check, can anyone recommend someone for that as well? as there are good and bad traders and I want to get good ones. Thanks

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Harrassed Pete 8th October, 2014 @ 13:26

Ive been a LL 15 years and now thinking of quitting as we r hammered from all sides. The gov wiil tap into the BTL BRIGADE with nationwide licencing whatever at £100s p.a. and more to follow?? Good tenants are thin on the ground plus the latest fad of "paying bills is simply not done no matter what!". My advice, think twice!!

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Paul Barrett 8th October, 2014 @ 16:15

The ONLY way to cover your arse is to ensure that any tenant you take on has RGI or their guarantor.
Having such a requirement will by default exclude about 75 % of prospective tenants.
But you are correct about thinking twice!!
Without RGI I won't take on a tenant.

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Paul49 26th October, 2014 @ 16:25

At 49 and a crap pension I'm considering BTL. After speaking to a local Estate Agent in Braintree they have offered three flats ranging from £80-£147k the cheapest providing the best return at 8%. I appreciate the comments from other contributors here that other costs and pitfalls can and will occur but I still like the idea of buying an appreciating asset and having someone else pay towards my investment. Question is do you buy the £80k or £147k flat. One will improve in value better and the cheaper a better yield? Also guessing a better quality tenant in the more expensive flat?

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Kay 5th January, 2015 @ 11:08
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Brilliant site. Best I have found. Thank you! Can anyone tell me what the implications are of being a landlord when you have a full time job as well? Who should you inform etc? Trying to find out online but often you have to pay for the information you want.

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Bob the Builder 10th January, 2015 @ 08:42
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Excellent Blog full of sound common sense and useful links - A gold star from me

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Newby S 21st January, 2015 @ 14:34

This website is great. I have followed all the advice, bought the house, sorted out a letting agent etc. Now I need to know more about paying tax. Is there a list somewhere saying what can be "off set" against tax? If I had two properties to rent out, can the combined income (and expenses) be taken or does each have to be calculated separately? Thank you in anticipation of someone knowing the answers!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 21st January, 2015 @ 17:11

@Newby S

Many thanks!

You can offset any expense associated to the property, even petrol bills during a renovation.

You can calculate everything together! More details on the GOV website here: https://www.gov.uk/renting-out-a-property/paying-tax

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Newby S 21st January, 2015 @ 17:20

Thank you very much.

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Benji 25th January, 2015 @ 12:16



Enter in the calculator today's price for an average 2 or 3 bed semi, say £160,000.

Enter the purchase date of 20 years ago.

At first it only just covered the outgoings. Now it is making a steady income.

If sold today you would be looking at an after tax profit of around £100,000.

"Is it worth the hassle/bother???"

In retrospect, I'd say so.

Could the same be done if buying today? Dunno. Where do you think house prices and rents will be in 20 years time?

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David 26th February, 2015 @ 17:05

As an agent working for a property management company called advance block management and as a private landlord I have found the information on the website very useful and informative. It's always nice and refreshing to read articles like this. Thanks.

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Jack Ass 26th February, 2015 @ 17:37

The gov' must be scratching their heads how to get money out of BTLs! Our wonderful council is to introduce licensing from £400 up AND IF PROPERTY IS NOT UP TO SCRATCH, 'WAIT FOR IT' THE FINE IS ------£20,000!!!

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Benji 26th February, 2015 @ 17:55

That is your local council's decision Jack, not the Government.
What did you do to try and stop them?
This landlord managed it-


Which council is it?

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Andy 28th February, 2015 @ 21:15

What a fantastic blog! So many cracking top tips. Many thanks for posting.

My wife and I have just dipped our toes in property investment with our first apartment and surprisingly, seem to have not tripped up on any of the many hurdles you have outlined. It's an exciting time for us and our shiny new tenants moved into our shiny new (well, nearly new) apartment yesterday. All good so far!

I have two queries for you, if you don't mind...

1) You mention that a yield of 8%+ "is pretty good". Am I missing a trick? I thought we were doing pretty well with our 5.6% yield (purchase price £210k, rent £975/mth) on our 2 bed/1 bath flat in Reading. Are you looking at a particular part of the UK or a particular type of property that is more lucrative?

2) You mention the absolute need (in your opinion) for a guarantor in a number of places in the blog. You have me worried now!! We have been pretty rigorous in cheking our tenants - tenancy agreement from NLA, employer refs, ID checks, salary checks, credit checks, past landlord refs, right to reside checks, etc. for our two young professional tenants, but no guarantor. Have we made a fatal faux pas here and if so do you think it's too late to get this in place now, after the deed!

Thanks again for excellent blog. You should publish this!!


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Paul Barrett 1st March, 2015 @ 18:35

Why on earth after doing all correct referencing etc on your tenants passing have you NOT purchased RGI !!!!!!!!!!??????
Simply unbelievable!!!
use LRS
£75 for a yearly policy
Better than any silly guarantor
But get a guarantor as well if you can
RGI us the foundation of tour property investment business
Very surprised you are unaware of it
With RGI you control everything
If not the tenant effectively controls you as he has the useless eviction system on his side
Without RGI you will be in for a very costly time if the tenant for whatever reason decides to stop paying rent and waits to be removed by court bailiffs
RGI whilst NOT particularly hastening this process at least pays you ALL the rent arrested the illegals to boot
The LRS RGI policy givesyou some free extras as well!!
Any LL who has tenants on whom RGI is possible would be made not to take a policy out?!
£1.44pw is all it effectively costs
You can offset it against tax as well?!!!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 2nd March, 2015 @ 17:04


Many thanks Andy, glad it was useful.

1) 5.6% is still a good yield, so don't worry. 8%+ is generally above average, and usually achieved from properties sold below market value e.g. repossessions. If you go to this article, you can see a top 50 list of BTL hotspots by yield. The top average is 7.8%, which is in Southampton, lowest is 3.34%, which is in Chelsea, so you're in the middle somewhere.

2) It does seem a little odd that you did such rigorous checks, but neglected the most common and obvious one, especially since it doesn't cost anything to setup a Guarantor. Unfortunately, you can't enforce the tenant to get a Guarantor now that the tenancy has started. However, personally, I wouldn't worry too much at this point and I wouldn't call it "fatal", since you did all the other checks.

If you are concerned, you could get what Paul suggested, RGI (rent guarantor insurance), which will cover any loss of rent.

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Benji 2nd March, 2015 @ 17:57

RGI (rent guarantor insurance)

It is 'Rent Guarantee Insurance' doofus.

@Paul, the policy you suggest doesn't cover rent arrears (that costs £100).
You might be interested in this bit from their FAQ's;

Q; Can I insure tenants who receive some form of state benefit?

A; Yes! At RentsafeUK.co.uk we allow you to cover most types of tenants as we are the first to appreciate that the majority of tenants who receive Government benefits still meet their financial commitments.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 2nd March, 2015 @ 18:19


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Benji 2nd March, 2015 @ 20:35

@Paul Barrett,

"Better than any silly guarantor"

You are a one-trick-pony.

RGI is just one tool in the box.

Using the policy you linked to;

If your tenant gets an ASBO for destroying your neighbours' lives, holds a rave every night, invites his ASBO mates round, causes a Grand's worth of damage, doesn't pay the last month's rent and craps on your carpet as a leaving present-

Are you covered?

Read the Terms and Conditions 'cos I don't believe you are-

What is not covered under 1 REPOSSESSION
Any claim to repossess your property because your tenant has behaved anti-socially.
We will negotiate for your legal rights after an event which causes physical damage to
your property.
The amount in dispute must be more than £1,000.

Excess is one months rent.

IMHO they are a decent company offering a decent product but they could drive a coach and horses through the T&C's if they so wished. I suggest you read them very thoroughly.

RGI isn't a bad thing, but it is not the only thing.

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Paul Barrett 2nd March, 2015 @ 20:43

Actually Benji you are sort of correct
An RGI policy with LRS is £100 at policy inception because you have to use the full LRS referencing at £27
The following year if no change in tenant then the policy is £75 per year
Apparently if tenants leave 6 months into the year RGI policy then the rig will still cover the property for rent arrears whoever are the new tenants
It is perfectly possible to obtain RGI but it may only be claimed on 1 months after policy inception
The best thing this LL can do is contact LRS
The LRS offering is far better than any guarantor though of course a guarantor is definitely worth having but not really vital if RGI is achieved on the tenant
Of course RGI ONLY. Covers legal costs and rent arrears so a guarantor is a useful thing to have if one can be obtained

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Paul Barrett 2nd March, 2015 @ 20:54

I know Benji my ultimate tenant set up would be to have a
6 month AST
1 months advance rent
2 months rent as deposit
Guarantor linked to RGI and on AST liability
Never been able to achieve all this
RGI is the easiest thing to manage and of course you are totally correct in that it doesn't cover everything
Effectively with RGI you have to hope the tenant doesn't pay rent!!!
If they carry on paying bad engage in ASB you are really stuffed
That means RGI won't work
Are there that many savvy tenants that will engage in ASB and pay their rent on time!?
I suggest that sort of tenant would be a rarity!!?
Also it is news to me that RGI is now available for HB tenants
Very interesting
I will be investigating!!!

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Andy 2nd March, 2015 @ 22:20

Thanks for comments back.

@Paul Barrett

"Why on earth...have you NOT purchased RGI !!!!!!!!!!??????..."Simply unbelievable!!!".."
Jesus, give a guy a break mate. First time and all, still learning the ropes! To be honest, I am pretty confident we have sound tenants, maybe naive but I don't think so. We did look into RGI but decided against it in the end. There were so many caveats, get-outs, high excesses, time clauses before you could claim, etc. that it didn't seem to be worthwhile. Will research this again!

BTW, do you have shares in LRS? Presumably 'other insurers are available'!

@The Landlord

Thanks for the yield blog. Ours is a newish flat that needed nothing doing to it so I'm now pretty happy with our yield since it is well above the Reading average in your blog and low maintenance. Hope the tenants are the same!

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Paul Barrett 2nd March, 2015 @ 23:16

Utter twaddle
It is quite easy to work out what you need for a successful RGI claim
I did it
Yes you have to have all your ducks in a row
But really for £1.44 pw!!
You didn't think it worthwhile!?
It is possible to pay £10 more and have no excess

You try finding a better RGI policy than LRS and I'll use it!!
Try using LRS
All other referencing is useless
Funnily enough LRS has just started issuing shares
Not that I have any of them!
If you have existing tenants the there is a month delay on making a claim
However there have been many adjustments to policy conditions
Therefore full research is required
It is of fundamental importance that you ascertain the RGI claim requirements BEFORE you take out a RGI policy

Obviously you need to ensure that all conditions have been met to qualify for RGI
It doesn't matter how good you think your tenants are
If they are that good do yourself a favour and obtain RGI
Remember every tenant can turn into a wrongun
RGI can pay your mortgage whilst booting the tenants out at ZERO cost to you
I have found that there is nothing so onerous with RGI conditions that has ever precluded me from a successful claim
But I agree don't ever trust a RGI company
Check the claim requirements and then if can meet them and can supply all the documents needed for policy inception then go ahead
If you can't then don't bother with RGI
I have always managed this without any difficulties
You should be able to so as well

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Stacey 22nd March, 2015 @ 22:14

With the landlord licensing being introduced to my area in a couple of months, I really can't do with all the hassle of the rules and added expenses, it's just not worth it. I am not suited to being a landlord and want to get out of the whole thing. I plan to give notice to my tenants, but their contracts don't expire until the licensing comes in. Do I still need to apply for a license? This all confusing.

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Hadanuff 22nd March, 2015 @ 22:45

Our council has started. A l/Lord can be fined up to £20,000 for a tenants antisocial behaviour, yes £20,000! Why work and live in poverty? If you can't "beat'em join'em" ! To answer your question, cover yourself and get the licence or live to regret it as my council have cost me £1000s over the years?

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JOCELYN 20th July, 2015 @ 14:59


Indeed a smashing site! my father is the landlord and I am helping him out in managing his property. being new on this task, your blog has been such an awesome help. thanks for all. i haven't yet finished this ebook, though but i am learning bit by bit.

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Jonathon Camacho 14th August, 2015 @ 03:07

This website has been like a bible to me, as I am about to enter my first buy to let property it has been a some what scary process. However this forum and your continous amount of knowledge has been so helpful! You keep it real and tell it how it is. ( Buy a big bag of weed and get high mudda fucka! Haha 😝 )

Keep up the good work!

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Vincenzo 9th September, 2015 @ 17:43

Hi dear landlord,

I want to become a landlord. I know agency that give money since you sign the contract and they pay you every months even if nobody is in the house.. What do you think about it? Do you have any tips?

Thank you in advance

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Paul Barrett 9th September, 2015 @ 20:09

Yes don't do it!
Sub letting is usually against mortgage conditionsĺ
R2R is not really necessary
Most LL can easily source their own tenants perfectly well
Just use an online LA which like movebubble costs nothing and use a cheap referencing service like LRS
Unless you are unable to readily reach your rental property then you don't need a LA especially an expensive High St one!
It does sound to me like you shouldn't really be a LL
Are you are aware of the the Budget tax implications which could well make your property unviable
You should read the posts on the LL property websites about the New Budget tax

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D-Type 8th May, 2016 @ 13:32
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Read through your eBook. About to become a landlord. Thanks for the advice, lots of great tips there.

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Mulberry 15th June, 2016 @ 14:25

Excellent site, spent ages reading through peoples comments, good to know we're not alone ! Few questions needing some answers please . . .

1) We are new landlords as of last year - took 3 houses on all at once so was a crazy year. One set the tenants went in on a 6 months contract as we knew they planned to buy their own house and went on to a periodical for a further 6 months which the agent organised the changes free of charge as a favour (fees for all 3 houses were her carrot to keep us sweet). The old tenant moved 2 weeks ago and we have new tenants coming in this week. The house was totally renovated last year - do I need to organise a new electrical cert for them. We had a new consumer box put in and a certificate issued which I believe lasts 5 years. The electrician says we are OK for 5 years but I heard with change of tenancy have to do new cert. What is correct?

2) Another house has long term tenants in, they want to be there forever, even laid new patio and seem very happy which is great. I have said to save everyone agents fees that we will go over to a rolling contract / periodical. The agent wants £45 to simply renew the deposit over to the rolling contract or will give it back to the tenant who can give it to me. The tenant is happy for the agent to give the deposit straight to - does any of this sound right? Why cant they just tick the box on the TDS website - doesn't sound like 45quids worth of work does it ? !

3 & 4)TDS or DPS - does anyone have a preference on which to register and why? Would you hold and insure it or give it over?

5)Do I need to do new contracts for the tenants rolling over to periodical? What do I have to do now.

Many thanks for advise.

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D Vitale 3rd November, 2016 @ 22:49

Looking forward to joining and gained Moore knowledge as a landlord best regards.

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Ian 13th December, 2016 @ 00:06
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Now that's a blummin good read and very informative - thankyou!

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david 31st January, 2017 @ 15:14
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Hi landlord

As a complete newbie, I found this ebook a valuable source of information, there was things I hadn't even thought about, thanks to your book hopefully I can avoid some of the pitfalls of the (Newbie Landlord)

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Teri 27th February, 2017 @ 08:27
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Hi Bob (it is Bob, isn't it, or did I make that up?!). I loved your ebook and I love your blog. Its SO informative and SO funny and your descriptions are hilarious, which means I can retain the information.

Keep on blogging :))

PS:Am already on your mailing list

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 27th February, 2017 @ 10:14

Oh man, I've really fallen behind on the gratitude! Thanks for the feedback people, genuinely appreciate it :)

Bob is a gooda' name as any, so why not! :)

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Barry Smith 3rd March, 2017 @ 09:33
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Really helpful and well written apart from unnecessary and misplaced use of offensive language (hence four stars). Ironic that within the guide it suggests maintaining a professional image!
Having got that off my chest I have as a very new landlord found it refreshingly very straight forward and of immense value. Many thanks.

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Sumit 22nd July, 2017 @ 23:12
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Very well written and informative. Thank you!

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Marie S 3rd September, 2017 @ 08:31
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You should charge for this guide because I doubt you'd get any complaints. Brilliant -:)

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Steve 13th October, 2017 @ 15:42
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Great read and so informative! Many thanks and keep up the good work.

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Sharon 23rd November, 2017 @ 23:11
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I didn't expect the guide to be that useful. Thankyou

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Rob 4th January, 2018 @ 17:15

Just read your book and it is invaluable, I am looking to dip my toes in being a landlord. Thank you so much for all the information.

Kind regards


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Rob 4th January, 2018 @ 17:17
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Best book ever on in's and out's of being a landlord.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 5th January, 2018 @ 08:29

Thanks Rob, really appreciate your feedback. Pleased to hear it was useful for you :)

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dave 30th January, 2018 @ 13:52
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great post

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Rob 17th April, 2018 @ 12:20

Great stuff...very informative.

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Wendy 17th July, 2018 @ 17:37
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Very good for first-time landlords like me. It teaches me a lot what I need to know. Wish I had read it earlier before I became a landlord.
Thank you very much, really appreciated it!


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