We were recently asked by LandlordZONE to write an article which could be published on their website, and sent out in their monthly newsletter, and here it is!
Now that the sun is out, tenants are starting to think about moving. If you are looking for new tenants, it’s important that your property stands out from the crowd, is let with a minimal void period, and that once you have found good tenants you keep them!
1. Get a good letting agent!
There are many letting agents to choose from. As a landlord your choice is now even wider, with a good range of online letting agents available, such as The Online Letting Agents. Online agents work in much the same way as a high street agent, though they require the landlord to provide the property details and accompany viewings. That said, they are a fraction of the cost of a high street agent and give you more control over your property.
With more than 90% of home hunters beginning their search online it is important that you choose an agent who advertises across the internet (especially on rightmove and the zoopla property group). They should also have a good knowledge of the lettings industry and be able to provide you with comprehensive tenant referencing and a contract.
If you are not sure who to choose, check their reviews. A good letting agent will have plenty of happy customers, both landlords and tenants.
2. Price it right
Your agent, online or otherwise, should be able to assist you with this. Going to market at the correct price from the outset is the best way to let your property quickly. It is tempting to advertise your property at a higher price for a week or so to see if any one bites. Whilst this can be a good strategy if you have plenty of time to play with, remember that a vacant property is costing you money in lost rent. Take this scenario; if a property rents today at £700, or in a month at £750, it will take 15 months at the higher rate to pay for the month void.
3. Kerb appeal
With the sunny weather, the grass is beginning to grow. Unfortunately so are the weeds! Make sure that the garden is regularly mown, weeds removed, boarders and beds kept tidy, and why not add a hanging basket or planter to make the property feel more homely? Tenants, just like home owners, want to feel happy when they approach their front door, so make sure that their first sight of your property is a positive one.
The properties that let quickest are invariably the ones in the best decorative order. Rental properties become tired quickly. Typically tenants are not as careful as home owners, and furniture is taken in and out of a property sometimes once or twice a year. This takes its toll on the décor, with scuffs and scrapes.
Use a neutral and readily available paint colour. You will get fewer complaints about a house painted magnolia that a house painted any other colour! Choosing a popular colour range, such as Dulux magnolia, means that between tenancies you can always pick up more paint, it will never be discontinued and you can even give the tenants a pot to encourage them to touch up scuffs! Tenants will view a number of properties, so make sure yours is in good decorative order and the best on the market. You really will reap the benefits of a couple of pots of paint and a day’s hard labour!
5. Kitchens & Bathrooms
Tenants like clean kitchens and bathrooms. Wipe over all of the surfaces, and make sure any extractor fans are clear of dust and cobwebs. Make sure that all lights have working bulbs so that the rooms are bright. In the kitchen, make sure that all of the cupboard doors are fitted properly, and they all have handles. In the bathroom, make sure that there is no mould. Use mould remover, or re-silicone the bath, sink or shower, refresh the paint work with a bright white coat, and make sure the room smells fresh.
6. Choose your tenants well
Just because someone offers you full price for your property does not mean that they are going to be your perfect tenants. Bear in mind how quickly they can move, how long they are looking to stay, their employment (and the stability of their job) etc. You should ALWAYS have a reference check for every potential tenant. This should include a credit history check, landlord reference and employer reference. If you use a high street agent, they should have no issue with you meeting the tenants before you agree to let to them. Of course, if you are using an online agent, you will meet all potential tenants and make the decision yourself.
If you are self-managing the let, make sure that they are someone you can get on with well enough to have frank discussions about, for example, late rent, or issues that arise during inspections. A good landlord-tenant relationship is a great way to ensure that tenants stay for as long as possible.
7. Be a good landlord
Once you have tenants who would like to take your property, be as flexible as you can and deal with any issues that arise promptly. The better you take care of them, and the more you allow them to make the property their own, the longer they will stay. Let them redecorate in a neutral colour (that you have approved) and hang pictures. You can ask them to return the property to its original state at the end of their tenancy (this should be stated in your contract), so have lost nothing, and potentially gained a lot.