Deposit and other upfront costs
Unless you have enough cash to buy the property outright, you’ll need a buy to let mortgage, which usually require you to put down a 25% deposit.
As with any property purchase, you’ll need a solicitor, and you’ll have to pay stamp duty on any additional property you own. The UK government’s stamp duty calculator will give you an idea of how much you’ll pay.
Setting the rent
Firstly, try to get an idea of what your costs will be - your mortgage repayments and your rates bill.
You should look at similar rental properties in the area to get an idea of the market. Plus fit and finish affects rent as well – the better the standard, the higher the rent you can charge.
Make sure you can keep up your repayments without tenants.
Ongoing costs to you
Any rental income you receive counts towards your overall income for the tax year. This means that, depending on your other income, money you make from letting property may be subject to income tax.
There aren’t as many allowances as there used to be for landlords, which makes it more difficult to offset particular expenses, but everything depends on your own personal circumstances.
Finding a property
The most important thing is that you choose somewhere that’s going to make you money.
Although you might be tempted to pick a property that appeals to you personally, remember you need to appeal to your tenants.
Think about the type of tenant you’d like. Will they be students, young professionals or families? Make sure you choose a property that fits their needs.
Are there main roads or train stations nearby? What about shops or offices?
You may also want to be personally close to the property in case of emergency.
Decoration and furniture
Remember you can’t please everyone so it’s best to stick to neutral colours throughout – magnolia or white walls, plain carpets in muted colours.
Obviously the décor you choose depends on how you position the property on the rental market. But if the property is clean, tidy and in good order, you’re much more likely to find yourself a tenant.
You may want to let it out as an unfurnished or part-furnished property.
Finding a tenant
You might want to advertise the property yourself (this will mean you’ll have to be on site to show prospective tenants around), but you could always use a letting agent who specialises in rental markets.
Both landlords and tenants have rights and responsibilities in Northern Ireland. It might be a good idea to check if you need to register your property as a 'House in Multiple Occupation' (HMO), and you can’t discriminate against any potential tenants on the grounds of:
- gender reassignment
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation.
You might want to employ a management company to look after the day-to-day running of the house. They’ll deal with the phone calls, carry out inspections and routine maintenance, and send the contractors round when something goes wrong. In exchange for this they'll take a set percentage of your rental income, so shop around for the best deal.