Q. I am about to complete on my first ‘Buy to Let’ property so will be a first time Landlord! What are the pitfalls that I should avoid and have you any tips to ensure things run smoothly?

A. Buying your first ‘Buy to Let’ property is a real accomplishment and certainly a desirable asset these days given that money in the bank no longer attracts the interest that it used to. Landlords who are new to the lettings market need to be aware of all of their responsibilities in order to be successful. Some Landlords make the decision to let the property themselves which will obviously save them on agency fees but I firmly believe that this should be left to the experts if you want things to run smoothly, it’s a good idea to use a reputable and respected letting agent, as they are specialists in this field and landlords can be sure they have levels of protection. Agents who specialise in lettings are up to date with the latest legislation with regards to rentals and continue to receive updates of any new legislation and implement accordingly. The laws particularly surrounding tenants deposits are very strict, they have to be protected and registered within one of the three government schemes, and must be registered and released within certain time restrictions, these are all really important points and for a brand new Landlord difficult to comprehend. Problems such as the risk of having bad tenants who do not pay the rent need to be dealt with in a correct manor, Landlords cannot just turn up and change the locks – this is illegal but you would be surprised how many private Landlords I know that have done just that and landed themselves in very hot water. You are also under obligation to maintain the property properly and have gas safety checks done on an annual basis to ensure the tenant is safe. When it comes to the contract do make sure that you know what you are doing here and don’t leave yourself open to drama later on by using a copy of a contract that a friend passed on or you downloaded from the internet if you don’t understand the document, this could be potentially dangerous and you could find yourself unprotected, again if you use an agent they will ensure the correct contract is used and clauses are added or amended if need be. As long as new landlords take time to make themselves aware of their responsibilities and do all they can to adhere to them, their experience in the lettings market should be an enjoyable and fulfilling one.