Top 10 Letting Tips
If you have some spare time or cash, have the property repainted throughout. This can be done on a budget and in most cases over a weekend. When marketing properties for rent, one of the main comments tenants make are that the property needs to be repainted or is looking rather tired. A quick repaint can often rejuvenate a property and make it much more appealing to prospective Tenants. Remember, keep it neutral and stick with creams and light pastel colours to ensure that the property will attract the widest range of clients.
Get the property up to the best condition possible, to help ensure we can source you the best quality Tenant possible. Remember professional clients generally tend to have a higher budget and prefer to rent properties which are maintained to a slightly better standard. Additionally, once you have carried out a professional clean, our AST will always stipulate it is the Tenants responsibility to have the property professionally cleaned when they vacate so you will not have to do it again.
Think About The Furnishings
By analysing your target market, we can advise you as to whether it is best for you to furnish or leave your property unfurnished. However if you do decide to leave any foam furniture (sofas) in the property, it must display the necessary fire safety signs. Furthermore, if you have expensive items of furniture, i.e. an expensive TV or other high value items, we would generally recommend taking these items with you, as if the items stop working and they are listed on the inventory, then you are obliged to replace them with items of equal value. At the same time, beware of flat pack furniture as much of it isn't robust enough for letting long term and can become a false economy. Many tenants have their own furniture anyway so sometimes it is best to let them use it and when it goes wrong, the tenants can bear the cost of repairs or replacement and not you.
If your property has been rented out previously, when you get it back, don't expect it to come back as it was when you let it. Why? Because if a Tenant is in a house or flat for two or three years, there is bound to be some wear and tear, just as if you were living there yourself. So be realistic and budget for a redecorating job and probably replacement carpets too which should help finding a better quality tenant who is more likely to want to stay on after the first year. If however you are looking for a short term client, sometimes they may not be too concerned.
It is always advisable to get an independent professional inventory carried out at your property. An inventory is a detailed listing, describing the condition of your property and the items in it. A check in is carried out when the Tenants move in and then a check out is carried out when the tenants move out, with the cost being shared by both parties. Having an inventory carried out by a third party ensures that any damages or wear and tear is noted down by an independent person and makes it easier to deal with any deposit dispute. Some inventory companies also take photographs of the property on the check in and check out.
Gas & Electrical Safety Certificates
Check all aspects of safety, especially for gas and electricity. Make sure everything is in prime working order and that you possess the necessary safety certificates where required. All properties which have gas appliances either in the form of cookers, gas central heating or gas fires will require an annual gas safety inspection which is to be carried out by a qualified Gas Safe (Corgi) engineer.
Ensure the property is free from any damp or condensation. Tenants looking at properties tend to be extra vigilant and any sign of damp or condensation normally starts to ring alarm bells. If you have had your property rented out in the past you may have been in the unfortunate situation of having tenants who did not ventilate a property correctly and if you believe there to be any issues with damp, it is always best to have a builder or damp proofing engineer inspect the affected areas. They can generally provide you with advice on how to stop this recurring and carry out any work to have the problem rectified. Damp can put a lot of people off living in a property and the last thing you need is for a small patch of damp, to leave your property sitting empty for longer than necessary.
Carry Out An EPC
From 1 October 2008, landlords have been put under legal obligation to provide prospective tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The certificates are provided after an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor carries out an inspection and issues an Energy Performance Certificate, using special Government approved software. In layman's terms, EPCs give homeowners and tenants information on the energy usage and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of a property as well as recommendations for improvements. Once an EPC has been carried out, the certificate is valid for a period of 10 years and not beyond that. If you have recently purchased your property, you should have an EPC as part of your Home Information Pack (HIPs).
Budget for taxes. We cannot advise you as to whether there will be any tax payable on your collected rent as all cases are different. However most rental income is taxable, so once you have checked out what your position is, makesure you set a proportion of the rent aside on a monthly basis to ensure you don't have a nasty tax bill waiting at the end of it all. On the other hand, there are also lots of costs you can deduct from your rental income that will help to reduce your tax bill. These include things like your mortgage, inventory fees, safety inspections, letting agent fees and insurance. Keep a track of all your costs and income to try and help your accountant reduce your tax bill.
Tenancy Deposit Protection
Since April 2007, it has been the law that if your property has been let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), the Landlord must ensure that the Tenants deposit is protected by one of the government approved deposit protection schemes. These schemes guarantee that Tenants get their deposits back at the end of the tenancy, if they meet the terms of the tenancy agreement and do not damage the property. Often the inventory is used to resolve any disputes between the Landlord and the Tenant.