For all you landlords out there, here are a few handy tips from us
Preparing your property
Decide whether you want to let your property furnished or unfurnished. It's great if you can offer both options, as this means the agent can market it to a wider audience. In terms of decorating and soft furnishings, keep it fresh and neutral. A well-maintained, clean property will attract good tenants.
The safety of your tenants is very important, so make sure you have a Gas Safety check every year and get all electrical equipment tested once a year too. It goes without saying that your rental property should be fitted with smoke alarms throughout as well as carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed.
By law, you will need an EPC (energy performance certificate) for your rental property. Your estate agent can help you to organise this. You won't be able to market the property without one, so get it sorted as soon as possible - they're valid for 10 years. There are some restrictions on letting a property with a low EPC rating; F or G, but your agent can advise you on the rules.
It's a really good idea to get a professional inventory taken at the start and end of each tenancy. Your estate agent will be able to manage this for you. It can help with any disputes that may arise when a tenant moves out. Without an inventory it is very difficult to prove you are entitled to any of the deposit funds in the event of damages and dilapidations.
Try to keep a relatively open mind about your potential tenants and don't set unrealistic expectations, as this only reduces your target market. Try not to become too emotionally attached to the property either, as it is always hard to let go of a property you love - try to distance yourself from the process.
Potential tenants may try and negotiate on the price. Depending on the tenant's offer, it's worth weighing up if the price you want is worth holding out for, or if it's better to accept it and reduce the time the property is empty and not making money. It's well worth listening to your estate agent's advice.
What level of service do you want from your agent?
You need to figure out how much involvement you want from your estate agent. Do you just want them to find you a tenant and conduct all the security checks, or would you like them to look after the ongoing rent-collection and property management? Of course, there is an additional cost for the agent's ongoing involvement, but it could save you a whole lot of hassle in the long run. You shouldn’t forget that being a Landlord involves numerous pieces of legislation which you will need to keep up to date with if you choose to go it alone.
In choosing your agent, don't automatically opt for the agent that offers the lowest fee. This may prove to be a false economy.
Consider employing staff to help look after your property, like a cleaner and gardener. This means you can retain some level of control over your property's care and maintenance.