How to avoid unexpected bills when letting property

Whether you’re a first time landlord with a single flat for rent in Southend or an experienced property investor with an impressive portfolio of houses to let, there will always be unavoidable expenses associated with owning rental property.

Marcus James, Lettings Agent at Pace Plc, has created a list of common costs to help landlords budget more successfully and avoid over-estimating financial returns.

The buy-to-let market is currently a serious consideration for budding investors. As a local Lettings Agent in Southend on Sea, we are regularly approached by people looking to generate an income and good level of capital growth from rental property. This is truer than ever, now that changes in pension regulations allow alternative financial plans for retirement. However, running a successful property portfolio takes continued investments of time and money on top of the initial financial outlay.

Buy-to-let can be very profitable in the long term but only if you look at the figures in detail and structure your investment wisely. A serious property investor will approach becoming a landlord as a business venture. Creating a business plan, cash-flow forecast and taking professional advice will all help to avoid costly mistakes or unexpected bills. The maintenance costs for a new or recently refurbished property are likely to be lower at first but over time, those costs will grow, particularly when larger-scale refurbishment is required.

Rented homes can often face more “wear and tear” than those that are owner occupied. Tenants sometimes take less care which may result in the need for redecoration every three to five years. Landlords need to be aware of this and ensure funds are available for kitchens, bathrooms and boilers to be replaced every 5 to 15 years. New windows, external doors, guttering, driveways, and radiators could be needed every 15 to 25 years which could mean considerable expense. General maintenance, rewiring and roofing projects could also be necessary at any time.

Unforeseen expenses can also include tenant arrears; the impact of having a vacant property and unexpected maintenance charges. If you’re unaware of or unprepared for these costs they can mount up and sometimes make a significant dent in your rental income. Make sure you’re ready when contingency funds are required for the ongoing costs of maintaining your buy-to-let property in Southend-on-Sea.

Checklist of costs to consider before buying-to-let

  1. Energy Performance Certificate
  2. Gas safety certificate
  3. Tenancy Deposit Scheme fees
  4. Assured Shorthold Tenancy fees
  5. Landlord insurance
  6. Council tax and ground rent
  7. Service charge
  8. Buildings insurance
  9. Utility bills
  10. White goods and furnishings
  11. General maintenance and repairs
  12. Void periods
  13. Letting agency fees

We are happy to offer half an hour of face-to-face advice, free of charge, to local individuals considering becoming a landlord.

Please telephone and ask to speak to George, Marcus or Crystal on 01702 445 606.

Marcus James is Lettings Manager at Pace Plc, an independent Southend on Sea Letting Agent. He deals with every aspect of the property letting process, providing expert and candid advice together with tailor-made marketing plans for each property he lists for rental.

Marcus prides himself on ensuring our landlord clients get the best return in the right timeframe for their investments by conducting rental appraisals, letting viewings and oversees the running of the lettings department.

Pace Property Lettings & Management Ltd
South Essex Landlords and Property Investor Network
No Selective Licensing
Pace Sales


"I am a landlady with many properties and have dealt with Pace for about 10 years. Marcus is very friendly, honest, efficient and helpful and has made my letting experience extremely easy always finding me suitable tenants. I have nothing but praise for Marcus who has been with Pace many years.

Mary R

After renovating a block of 21 flats to place into our rental portfolio we instructed PACE and gave them two weeks to let all the units on a sole agency basis. They marketed the flats for a week and conducted a strict open house event on the following Sunday for 4 hours. Within this slot 15 flats were let with the remainder let the following week.

The Director of Runwood Homes

As a landlord with multiple HMO properties, I have employed the services of PACE for a number of years now as they ensure I have my required specification of tenant placed in all my rooms. I only let rooms to employed applicants and very much favour their opening hours as this attracts and accommodates the right people.

Johnathon Simons HMO Landlord

Sara is my dedicated property manager and has been for some time. I have always found Sara to be a very professional member of staff. Sara always keeps me informed and provides regular visit reports, which is important for any landlord. Sara deals with any problem that befalls her, contacting me if she needs to. Sara will discuss any problem and invariably come to a solution.

Raymond Durrant – multi property landlord

The staff are always friendly and helpful, my special thanks to Sara, we have built a very special rapport and I feel very comfortable phoning if I need anything. I feel very happy that I have one person to deal with all of my issues.

Evelin Jenkins - Tenant

We cannot stress how much we appreciate having a dedicated property manager for our properties. We live 350 miles away and also spend a great deal of the winter out of the country. To be able to phone our manager who understands our properties and how we operate is for us complete peace of mind.

Peter and Maureen Mason – Multi property landlords

I was extremely thankful I chose PACE to conduct the sale of my property and extremely grateful to Sue Mellor who worked very hard to ensure a smooth transaction. She was most knowledgeable and professional throughout, always reachable and approachable. She was able to answer all the questions I posed.

Yvonne White

I've recently purchased a property with the help of Pace. I found the staff extremely helpful and friendly. My first contact was Katie, she showed me around the property and liaised with the vendor. After, I dealt mostly with Sue Mellor. She was very knowledgeable and helpful. She kept me informed throughout the process and was the first to congratulate me on completion.

Roni Miller

I just thought I'd drop you a line about Adele Moore who is managing my flat. Adele is doing a great job and is a credit to Pace. She has done, and continues to do, exactly what she says she will do and as a customer that is exactly what I want. Adele doesn't take things at face value and investigates things when she needs to, again a thing that clients will prize.

Tony Mihill - Landlord

Thank you to the team at PACE for firstly providing excellent property management services over many years and secondly for helping me to sell my property recently.

All your hard work has been very much appreciated. Special mentions to Sara, Amy, Sue and Billy for their friendly and professional service!

Charlotte, (Property Management & Seller)