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Please forward this error screen to 77. Would you buy and renovate a property in France? The buy-to-let traps: How to avoid the classic mistakes that mean investing might not pay off By Marc Shoffman for Thisismoney. The buy-to-let sector has experienced a resurgence in recent years as investors look for income in the low interest rate environment – and hunt for growth off the back of house prices rising again. Buy-to-let has been a great investment for many people, but for some it has been a disaster that has cost them thousands. Those considering investing in buy-to-let – or hoping to improve the returns on their existing properties – need to make sure they aren’t making common mistakes.

We outline the classic errors to avoid to make sure you get the best from buy-to-let – and how to look after your tenants so they look after you. Solid rental returns should be the backbone of successful buy-to-let investing and an improving mortgage market means more people able to buy and less demand for lettings. There are still a lot of people who find themselves locked out of home-ownership though and the most recent ONS English Housing Survey showed 19 per cent of people renting privately in 2014. More potential homebuyers have been looking to rent, as they are put off or cannot yet afford a deposit for their first home, due to stagnant wages and lenders demanding larger deposits for the best mortgages. These factors, coupled with rising house prices, should have meant an easier ride for landlords but it pays to be cautious and realistic. According to property expert Vicki Wusche, your properties need to be delivering a positive cash flow each month.

This means rent comfortably beating your mortgage costs and avoiding costly void periods – months when your property isn’t rented out – that could see you lose thousands in one fell swoop. It isĀ  also important to have extra cash to cover maintenance or periods without tenants. If you are only just breaking even, or making a loss, there are steps you can take. Planning on becoming a property millionaire? You need to consider the type of rental income you will get in an area as well as the overall return you will get on the property. It can be tempting to choose a property near where you live, as it would be easier to keep an eye on it. But your area may not be the best for property prices or rental yields.