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The steamy world of Buy-to-Let – guest post by Fiona Fullerton

There comes a time in every landlord’s life when we simply lose the will to live. I’m currently feeling like that, due to a particularly troublesome tenant who, in an ideal world, would have a contract taken out on her. Actually, that’s not fair, since she has now moved out and her sister has moved in, inheriting the title of LP. (Leading Pain.)

It all goes to prove that when you are preparing to enter the steamy world of Buy-to-Let you really need to get your priorities right. In the old days when I started investing (1994) I would cut corners in order to save money. BIG mistake. It becomes a false economy in the end as you spend more money replacing everything. Everything from washing machines to taps and from light fittings to carpets.

The cheaper the product, the shorter its lifespan. Common sense really. So it transpires that the shower fitting has come loose, the washing machine has died, the heating thermostat appears to be on a 28 hour cycle and one window is leaking. Great.

But I blame myself because I should know better, especially if I want to get top dollar for my rentals. The best advice I can give you is to buy the best quality fixtures and fittings and to use reliable tradesmen to install them. A badly tiled bathroom will cost you money ultimately because the water can get behind the tiles and, hey presto, you have a leak.

At this time of year I start to reappraise the functionality of each property and see whether any preventative measures can be taken. I find that as far as maintenance is concerned, a little and often is the best course of action. So, I’ll get all the boilers serviced by a Gas Safe registered specialist and make sure all the gas safety certificates are up to date. I’ll visit the flats to satisfy myself that they are in good condition and no-one is leaving bicycles in the hallway, for example. Then I might get all the fire alarms and extinguishers checked and make sure no-one is hooking the fire-doors open. (V. naughty.)

Even the exteriors might need attention. Getting the garden tended is essential and repairing any frost-damaged steps. I recently replaced a fence that a neighbour was complaining about and made sure that the job was done PROPERLY this time. After all, if I want to sell up at any time, I’ll want the house to look its best. This is an important key to the maintenance for me. Keep your house in tip-top condition. You never know when circumstances may change.

Fiona Fullerton

Property expert, writer, TV presenter and former actress – Fiona Fullerton’s career is as varied as it is impressive. She has a portfolio of flats, houses and offices in London and Oxford, which she also manages. She shares her extensive knowledge of the property world in your blog posts.

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