There's more to being a landlord than collecting rent. Chris Partridge reveals some extra sources of income
Wednesday 22 June 2005
So you think you have done everything you can to maximise the return on your buy-to-let investment, from redecorating in cool, contemporary colours to installing new kitchen appliances. But the rent is just the bread and butter. Creative landlords can often identify extra ways of making money to put jam on it.
Moneymaking wheezes include renting out spare parking spaces, putting mobile phone masts on the roof, and selling wall space for advertising billboards.
Sites for billboards are in demand, and the poster advertising companies have surveyors looking for potential sites nationwide. But they always welcome enquiries from landlords, says Cliff Pratt, development director for Clear Channel.
"The things that make a site valuable are audience delivery and length of visibility," he explains. "A wall with passing glimpses from a B-road will be worth little, but a site visible for a long distance of a main A-road will be valuable."
The return varies from one or two thousand pounds a year for a 20ft hoarding somewhere in the countryside to over £100,000 a year for a piece of land with room for a high-technology lightbox on a major London approach, such as the Cromwell Road, Pratt says.
Billboard operators will do free surveys for landlords who think they have a suitable spot. If the survey is positive, the operator will do the rest. "We handle obtaining planning permission on behalf of the owner and thereafter we are responsible for finding advertisers, maintaining the site and paying insurance and business rates," Pratt says. Planning permission is almost impossible to obtain in purely residential areas, he says, so the best type of property for billboards is a shop with flats above, on a corner site, with a big blank wall on one side.
Some landlords gain extra income by allowing a mobile phone company to erect a mast on the property - but it's a controversial area. Demand for mast sites is soaring, partly due to increasing demand and also because the new 3G video phones need base stations closer together than those for current mobiles.
The best sites for mobile phone masts are the tops of high buildings or higher ground in the countryside, but the networks are also looking for side walls to mount antennas to fill in holes in coverage. If your mobile always cuts out behind your building, it might be worth investigating if your network has a problem in the area that you might be able to help with. In the countryside, mains power must be reasonably close by.
Planning permission will be needed for a mobile phone mast. In the town, it can help to disguise the antenna as an architectural feature (the flagpoles on many churches are, in fact, mobile phone masts), and in particularly sensitive country areas masts have been disguised as trees.
The income from a mobile phone mast varies, depending on the area and the type of installation - a big base station shared by all the networks will bring in much more than a small infill antenna.
The main drawback to a mobile phone installation is the controversy over possible health risks from the microwave radiation they emit. Living under them is unlikely to cause problems, but tenants may be deterred. It is probably not a good idea to offer the site if the property is next to a school. The new police mobile communication system, Tetra, seems to have provoked particular attention from protest groups.
The creative landlord can often find unexpected commercial opportunities at their property, says Ian Dickson, of Winkworth, in west London: "I passed a house in Twickenham the other day, on the way to the rugby, and they had given permission for a hot-dog stand in the front garden," he says. Even such occasional uses should be licensed but rarely are. The main danger in giving permission for retail activities in the front garden is that the neighbours will complain about the crowd, noise or smell.
Letting out the parking space that comes with your buy-to-let flat, leaving your tenant to find their own space, can cause problems. The secret is to buy a small flat in a development with lots of big flats and houses nearby. "Mostly, tenants in one-bed flats don't have cars but the owners of nearby million-pound houses will have more cars than parking spaces," says Dickson.
Corner houses often have gardens with direct frontages onto a road that may provide rentable parking spaces, but planning permission may be needed to allow access over the pavement.
Independent Partners: Get fee-free expert mortgage advice and find the right mortgage deal for you.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
iJobs Money & Business
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...
$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens