Thinking of letting a property? Read our detailed guide to help you through the process.
1. Do your research and get an up-to-date valuation
First of all, ensure you understand the responsibilities of a landlord - whether you are planning to manage the property yourself or let it through a professional lettings agency. It is also useful to take a look at lettings agency websites and major portals like Rightmove and OnTheMarket.com to see what rental prices properties (similar to yours) are being let for in your area.
The next step is to get an up-to-date valuation. Most agencies will provide these for free, but it is useful to get at least three valuations so that you have a good basis of what price your property can potentially achieve. It will also help you to assess which agency you would like to work with.
2. Choosing a lettings agency
Here are some pointers of what to look for in a letting agent:
- Do they understand the local area and rental prices?
- Do they have proven marketing methods to get your property let in a suitable time frame to suit you?
- How many registered tenants do they have that are looking for a property like yours in your area?
- Do they have convenient opening hours (for you to be able to contact them, but also to maximise on times of days potential tenants can view the property)?
- Will they promote your property on their website and major portals (such as Rightmove and OnTheMarket.com)?
- Do they use a variety of marketing methods such as social media, email campaigns, newspaper advertising, SMS and local PR opportunities?
- Do they provide high quality images and writes detailed property particulars?
- Do they have a dedicated Property Management Service to adequately look after your property?
- Will they organise the government required Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) on your behalf. This needs to be arranged before your property can be marketed.
3. Putting your property on the rental market
Once you have decided to put your property on the market, it is important to take all the necessary steps to maximise the potential of your property - this is for your professional imagery as well as viewings. Here are some tips to help you:
- Remember, first impressions count, so what does the front of the property look like? Does it look well-maintained and tidy? This is very important if you plan to have a 'To Let' board outside.
- Neaten and tidy – trim the hedges, cut the grass, clear leaves, neaten borders, fix broken gates or gutters, give areas a fresh coat of paint where needed etc. to make sure your property looks presentable.
- Are you currently living at the property? If not it is useful to visit it regularly, not only for security reasons but to also tidy up any mail that could piling up inside the front door and to open the windows to air the property.
- Ensure the rooms all look well lit and uncluttered.
- Check the garden is neat and tidy.
- Complete any of those outstanding DIY jobs like giving a room a fresh coat of paint – try to use neutral colours to appeal to as many people as possible.
Don’t forget to allow plenty of time before a photographer arrives to take images of the property so that you can make sure it is as presentable as possible. This is the chance to get as much interest as possible with high quality images, with your property looking at its best.
4. Receiving offers
A potential tenant may wish to make an offer. This needs to be done through the lettings agency you have chosen to let your property. They can do this verbally (over the phone or in person) or in writing (via post or email). Any conditions around this offer must also be communicated to the lettings agents.
You are not obligated to accept a particular offer – you can choose which potential tenant(s) suit you best. Discuss your options and any particular concerns with the lettings agent. They are there to help and guide you.
5. Once the let is agreed
Your lettings agents will be responsible for the following tasks:
- Written communication to all parties to confirm the rent, how regular the rent is paid (e.g. weekly, monthly etc.) and any conditions of the tenancy.
- Obtaining references from the tenants and a guarantor if this is required.
- All parties will need to read and sign the Tenancy Agreement.
- Collect payments owed for the tenancy to start, such as the deposit and the first month’s rent. All deposits should be registered with a deposit protection scheme.
- Carry out the inventory list and condition report. A copy needs to be provided to the landlord and the tenant(s) to ensure both sides are satisfied.
There are also a few tasks that you, as a landlord, will be responsible for.
First of all, you will need to carry out a professional and comprehensive inventory report. This will set out all the items that are in the house such as carpets, any furniture that comes with the house etc. It also needs to set out the condition of any of the contents. This becomes especially important should any deductions need to be made at the end of a tenancy for any damage – supporting documentation will be needed otherwise the tenants will legally be able to challenge this.
This will be carried out for you each time a new tenant starts to rent the property and at the end of the tenancy. Both you and the tenants should be supplied with copies.
At the start of any new tenancy, you must ensure your new tenants have set up the necessary accounts and transferred names for providers of utilities (gas, electric and water) and have provided meter readings if requested by the utility companies. They will also need to set up accounts or transfer the names for telephone suppliers, council tax and TV licensing.
Once all is complete, you can set a moving day that is mutually convenient to yourself and the new tenants.
If the lettings agency holds the keys to the property, you will need to instruct them to release these to the tenants on moving day. If the property is to be managed by a property management service through the lettings agency, it is important the tenants are given the contact details.
Congratulations on successfully letting your property!