You may have a property to let, or be about to take your first steps to becoming a landlord. No matter your experience, our letting agents are here to help you achieve more. It’s not just the flexibility of services that we offer that appeals; it's how we deliver them.
Lettings is all about action, and from the moment your property is in our hands, we are consistently working to maximise its potential. We take care of the immediate as well as assisting you to plan for the future. Our attention is meticulous; our attitude tenacious; our approach authentic.
We have put this basic 10-step guide together to help ease your property journey, and our team at Alexander & Co are always on hand to help answer any questions you have and guide you along the journey.
1. Accurate and up-to-date valuations
When letting your home, one of the first and most important things to do is to obtain an accurate and up-to-date valuation. The right agent will advise you on the current local property market and deliver an accurate valuation that will ensure your home will attract the best possible tenants for the best price possible, all in a time scale that suits your needs.
2. Select your management level
Before you become a landlord, consider how much involvement you want to have with your tenant and property. Do you want to deal with day-to-day maintenance, monthly rent collection and other responsibilities like keeping up with constant changes in legislation? How much involved you have may affect your current lifestyle in a way you do not want, So it’s best to discuss the options with your agent, as it's important to understand exactly what they are doing and how they will make your life easier.
3. Marketing your home
Once you have agreed terms with your letting agent, your home will need to be photographed and a floorplan will need to be completed. You will also need to arrange for an EPC to be completed. It's essential that all potential tenants are considered when marketing your home; not everyone will be reliant on property websites to help with their searches, so ensure your agent doesn't simply rely on this to generate interest.
When preparing your home for marketing, put yourself in the potential tenant’s shoes and walk around your home. Do you need to de-clutter, repaint the wall in the kitchen, cut the grass? These are all areas that your tenants will look at, and first impressions count!
4. Safety & Legislation
Your property must meet the UK's legal safety standards, therefore an impartial service must be employed to provide you with essential gas and electrical certification. Alexander & Co will be able to help facilitate this, and can also guide you on the additional certified inspections you will be required to provide.
You can choose to conduct the viewings yourself but we always recommend that your agent does them for you. The prospective tenants may ask questions around the tenancy agreement and deposit protection that the agent will be able to answer. First impressions really do count when potential tenants view your property, so it is important to prepare fully and to try and provide a blank canvass for the tenants.
Give your property 'kerb appeal'. If the outside of your home looks unloved, the potential tenants will not be optimistic about the inside. Step outside your home and imagine what a tenant will think on their first approach. A tidy lawn and clean windows and doors will give a great impression, so it's worth taking the time to enhance the exterior and, if possible, move any bins out of sight.
Potential tenants want to imagine themselves living in your property. Most will be imagining their sofa in place of yours. Here are some things that should be considered to make them feel at home as soon as they walk through the door:
De-clutter: tenants will look in cupboards and drawers to investigate storage space DIY jobs. It's really important to finish off any niggling jobs that may put off tenants, as the move may be completed quickly and they will want to see the home ready for them to move into.
If you are thinking of redecorating, use neutral tones so tenants can picture their own furniture in the rooms and get the work completed ahead of viewings.
Control the temperature: keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Replace any odours of smoke or pets with flowers or freshly brewed coffee.
6. Negotiation & accepting an offer
Your estate agent will handle negotiations between you and the tenant. It's important that you consider how much you would be prepared to accept if a tenant offers a price different from the asking price. Your agent should always strive to get you the best price; however, there may be other factors worthy of consideration in this decision, such as the references of the tenant and whether they have a reliable income, as well as when they want to move in and how long they are looking to stay.
Once negotiations have been completed and you are happy to accept an offer, your agent will work on completing references and securing a deposit from the tenants.
7. Credit and reference checks
It's important to run thorough comprehensive checks on prospective tenants to ensure that your investment will be secure. Your agent will use strict referencing procedures carried out by independent experts which can give landlords a comprehensive understanding of a potential tenant’s personal and financial circumstances, including a check on their employment history, creditworthiness and previous addresses.
8. Tenancy agreement and deposit.
The tenancy agreement outlines the agreed responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. It is important that both parties take the time to read this carefully before signing. The deposit paid by the tenant usually equates to 1.5x times the monthly rent and is held against possible damage to the property, which can be checked against the inventory at the end of the tenancy. The Housing Act 2004 protects all parties in this regard, as the deposit is required to be held within a government-approved scheme on all assured shorthold tenancies. These schemes offer quick and easy ways of resolving disputes, without the need for court action. Your agent will advise you on the different schemes, and will usually protect the deposit on your behalf as part of their service.
9. The Inventory
An inventory is a detailed list agreed and signed by both parties itemising the contents and condition of the property at the time of the tenant moving in. It is highly recommended that the landlord uses an inventory service to provide a comprehensive list. The inventory is designed to minimise the risk of any dispute over the deposit at the end of the tenancy, and is a true reflection on the condition of the property when the keys are handed to the new tenants.
10. Move-in day
Ahead of moving into the property, the tenant will need to have passed references, signed the tenancy agreement and paid all monies due, which will include the first month’s rent, deposit and any administration costs.
From this point on, the rent will be paid on a monthly basis, and the tenants will be responsible for reporting any maintenance issues that arise. The landlord is then responsible for arranging any required works are completed by a competent and qualified person in a timely manner. The majority of landlords will instruct a letting agent to provide a property management service to take away the stress, strain and hassle.
At Alexander & Co, if anything else arises during or after the tenancy, our team will always be on hand to offer you full, supportive advice.
This is intended as a guide to help you through the basic process. Being a landlord can be a stressful and daunting prospect, but the team at Alexander & Co are always here to help ease your property journey.