On the whole, buy-to-let portfolios are growing across the UK. In 2022, the average number of properties owned by private landlords increased by 17.9% compared with the previous year – from 6.1 to 8.2. Whilst many landlords who are expanding their portfolios will be well versed in keeping an eye on multiple properties at the same time, some may be experiencing new challenges. It’s true, managing a larger property portfolio can feel like somewhat of a fine art. But with patience, organisation and an action plan, there’s every chance you’ll succeed.
On that note, read on to discover our top tips for managing multiple rental properties. We cover everything from property maintenance and tenant screening through to staying on top of your rental income and expenses and monitoring your investments with time-saving tech. Let’s go.
Best practices for managing multiple rental properties
First, here are some of the basic principles of multiple property management:
1. Get organised – find the right tech to assist you
Managing multiple properties is a plates-spinning kind of scenario. There are a lot of moving parts, so it is crucial to make sure that you have all the important information at hand at the right time. Undoubtedly, being notified immediately of any emergencies or critical faults with a property is the first priority. And we find that most landlords will have this well under control (more on this below). Instead, many landlords will struggle with receiving timely updates on their rental income and expenses, as well as compliance deadlines. A combination of spreadsheets, calendars, to-do lists and phone reminders can only take you so far, before bank statements pile up, receipts are pushed to the side and document renewal deadlines slip your mind.
Harnessing the power of technology is a game-changer when it comes to tracking your rental income, property expenses and investment performance, especially when you have a growing portfolio to look after (more on this below).
2. Screen your tenants carefully
Finding reliable tenants is one of the most impactful ways to reduce the admin (and stress) associated with managing multiple properties. Good tenants will treat your property well and alert you about any maintenance issues – helping to keep your workload down. While there are no guarantees when it comes to finding great tenants, following a strict vetting process certainly reduces any potential risks.
💡Top tip Read our article about reference checks and documents >
3. Be responsive to tenant requests
As a portfolio landlord, it’s important to have measures in place to respond promptly to all of your tenants. This can be more challenging when you have multiple tenancies going at one time, which is why it’s crucial to carefully consider how you’ll manage this aspect of being a landlord. You might choose to hire a property manager (more on this below), or you might dedicate yourself to being on-hand, committing to responding to any requests within a set timeframe. Or you may even decide to manage some of your properties yourself, and to assign others to a third party: this hybrid model seems to be a favourite for landlords.
4. Plan ahead for property maintenance
As the old saying goes – prevention is better than cure; something that’s definitely true of property maintenance. The more you keep on top of things, the less likely you’ll be to run into major (read: costly!) issues later down the line. This is even more crucial when you’ve got a number of properties to look after. Setting yourself a schedule to carry out standard maintenance tasks can be really helpful here – things like cleaning gutters, having roofing checked, and repainting heavy-traffic areas, for example. It’s also a good idea to fix any unexpected issues as soon as they occur.
Not only does regular maintenance save you problems later down the line, keeping your properties in good nick helps you attract and retain great tenants – win-win.
5. Keep up to date with the law
There are a lot of rules and regulations around property management in the UK, which can get revised and updated quite frequently.
These can relate to anything from minimum HMO room sizes through to data protection, energy efficiency standards, and basically anything else that affects the private rental sector. As a portfolio landlord, it’s essential to keep abreast of these laws and any incoming changes that may require you to take action. It’s important to note that regulations can differ from council to council, so you’ll need to keep up-to-date with the rules in your properties’ specific area/s. While there are no guarantees when it comes to finding great tenants, following a strict vetting process certainly reduces any potential risks. Read our article about reference checks and documents for some tips on this.
Property management tips to help your business thrive
Now you’ve got the basics covered, take a look at the below tips to help you generally keep your buy-to-let business running healthily and smoothly:
1. Use tech to manage your finances
With multiple buy-to-let properties on the go, keeping track of your rental income, business expenses and general property finances can become highly convoluted. Unless you harness the latest technology.
Thankfully, today there’s some seriously intuitive software out there (like Hammock 👋), that will help you automate many of the tasks involved with managing your rental income and expenses. Hammock provides automated bookkeeping in real-time (it connects with as many bank feeds as you like) and showing you invaluable investment insights for each of your properties. (from landlord to landlord, we do think you’ll find our platform *very* useful – head here to try it for free 😌.)
2. Hire a team of pros
If you’ve got a lot of buy-to-let properties or just don’t have the time to manage your properties effectively, hiring a professional property manager is a wise move. They can handle the day-to-day running of your properties – including maintenance and repairs, advertising your properties between tenancies, and tenant screening.
You might also want to find a solicitor who is an expert in property matters, so you can always count on sound advice. And working with a great property accountant is pretty essential, especially as you work on growing your portfolio.
💡Top tip We have a guide to choosing an accountant as a landlord >
3. Build a reliable network of tradespeople
If you’re working with a property manager, they will have maintenance well covered. On the other hand, if you prefer to manage at least some of your properties directly, trying to take care of complicated issues alone can be challenging and costly (even if you consider yourself a bit of a DIY dab-hand). As a portfolio landlord, it’s highly beneficial to have a phonebook filled with reliable tradespeople – from professional cleaners, to roofers, plumbers and gas engineers. When building up your network, focus on getting word-of-mouth recommendations, and always check reviews online too if possible.
4. Get involved in your local community
Getting involved in your local community can be a great way to both find reliable tenants and build relationships with other landlords. The closer you are to things on the ground in your community, the more connections you’ll have to fall back on if you ever find yourself in need of advice or a helping hand. Local landlords, for example, can be a fountain of knowledge – helping you with everything from tradesperson recommendations to deciphering your local council’s property regulations.
5. Be patient and persistent
Managing multiple rentals can be a challenge, but it can also be highly rewarding. When starting out, it’s important to accept a relative amount of trial and error – some of your most valuable learnings will be from mistakes and mishaps. As landlords, we can attest to the power of being both patient and persistent; with a positive attitude and determination, you will find a system that works for you.
How to keep your rental properties in good condition
Some useful tips for keeping properties across your portfolio in good condition include:
- Conducting regular inspections: whether by you or your property manager, conducting regular property inspections helps you stay on top of any wear and tear.
- Fixing issues as soon as they crop up: from damp and mould to broken gutters – fixing issues promptly stops them from snowballing into something bigger.
- Redecorating between tenancies: taking a break in tenancies as an opportunity to repaint and refresh anything that’s looking a bit tired helps attract tenants and keep your properties in good condition in the long-run.
How to stay up-to-date on the compliance requirements for property management in the UK
Staying up-to-date on the latest property management regulations requires a multi-pronged approach. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the news is key, as is regularly checking your local council’s latest rules and regs – especially if you’re about to start a new tenancy. Networking with landlords in your local area can also be a great way to stay abreast of things, whether in person, online, or both.
Good to know: Hammock streamlines rental income and expenses management
Whether you’ve got two, three or in the tens of properties, Hammock lets you seamlessly manage all your property income and expenses in one place. Get key investment insights for each property, and enjoy automated rental income and property expense tracking across each of your tenancies.