We’ll advise you directly about all the elements we cover on this page, but it will speed the process if you’ve given them some thought in advance.
Tenants will normally be responsible for all utility bills (energy, water, and phones) as well as things like TV licences. The landlord normally remains responsible for any ground rent payments and service charges.
All income from letting a UK property is subject to UK tax (strictly speaking you’ll be liable for the profit, after deduction of allowable expenses). If you’re a UK resident that liability will depend on your other income and circumstances, and we strongly recommend you seek proper tax advice. If you’re not a UK resident you’ll need to register as self-employed with the tax authorities here (HMRC) so you can receive the income without tax deductions.
If you’re not the sole owner of your property, the co-owners will need to be named on the tenancy agreement, and on any management/service company agreements.
You can negotiate particular terms for early termination or renewal with your tenants as part of the contract. Most tenancies will run for an initial period of one or two years.
Among the first decision you’ll need to make is whether to let your property furnished or unfurnished, though you’ll find there’s usually very little difference in the rent you can achieve between the two. Note too that in an unfurnished property you’ll still be expected to provide curtains or blinds, appropriate floor coverings or finishes, and white goods in the kitchen. “Furnished” on the other hand means that a tenant could move straight in, which might appeal to some. In any event we’ll always advise you on what you should remove or leave behind.
All appliances (cookers, fridges, washing machines, boilers, etc.) should be in good working order. If you have any maintenance contracts please let us know. Make sure you leave operating instructions or manuals for all your appliances in the property.
If your property doesn’t already have one, you’ll need an EPC (energy performance certificate) before you let it. The EPC gives an energy efficiency rating on a scale from A to G, reflecting things like heating systems, insulation, and glazing. We can arrange for an accredited EPC provider to put this in place.
There are specific safety regulations which, as a landlord, you must follow. Note that we can arrange all these safety inspections and certifications on your behalf.
Fire: All upholstered furniture, including beds, mattresses, headboards, pillows, cushions, sofa and chair covers, must comply with the Furniture and Fittings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988. Bedding (duvets, duvet covers etc), curtains, carpets and antique furniture manufactured before 1950 are exempt. Anything you’ve bought new since 1990 should be compliant, and will have come with a label saying this. If in doubt, remove the item. You can find full details in the regulations themselves, which is available as a free download at legislation.gov.uk.
Gas: It’s your responsibility as landlord to have all gas installations (boilers, cookers, fires, pipework, and flues) checked by a registered Gas Safe engineer before the tenancy begins, and then at least every 12 months. You must also keep a documented record of the checks for at least two years.
Electrical appliances: Similarly with electrical appliances, wiring and installations, you must ensure that everything is certified as safe, in line with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. You’ll need to have all appliances and installations checked regularly by a certified engineer. For the properties we manage we would also ask for an annual PAT test on all portable appliances.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms: You’ll need a working smoke alarm on every storey that you want to let out, and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room where there’s an appliance burning solid fuel. All homes built after June 1992 must have mains-wired and interlinked smoke alarms on every floor. It’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure all alarms are in full working order at the beginning of the tenancy.
HMOs: There are further rules for any domestic property occupied by three or more unrelated people. These are deemed to be Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), and a separate 2006 regulation requires that they should have all fixed electrical installations inspected and tested every five years, alongside an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) from a qualified electrician.
Once you’ve decided to let your property and have complied with all the basic legal requirements and safety considerations it’s time to think about presenting things so you can get the best possible tenant.
Avoid viewing restrictions if you can. Potential tenants will often want to see as many properties as they can in as short a time as possible, so will be working to a tight schedule. If you can’t fit that schedule you might miss out.
We’ll provide a full report after each viewing, which remains in our database to build a useful picture of how (and to whom) your property appeals.
Your property will let faster if it’s in good decorative order. People have different tastes, so its safest to go for a neutral look perhaps with pastel colours, wooden floors and a plain modern kitchen. Where it helps we have a pool of trusted, expert tradespeople we can bring in at any point to spruce things up or indeed give your property a facelift.
First impressions cut deep. Pay particular attention to the entrance to your property, making sure the front door is clean and the surrounding area free from litter. Vacuum any communal areas and remove junk mail. Remove as much clutter as possible, making it easier for potential tenants to imagine how they would settle in with their own belongings. Little touches used discreetly like fresh flowers can make a difference. We’ll suggest any detail points we think will help.
Make up beds with fresh linen before a viewing. Air the property as much as you can and consider using a dehumidifier in closed spaces like cellars to keep any musty smells at bay.
Good natural light will always be welcome, so maximise whatever’s available. Make sure the windows are clean and all curtains or blinds are fully open. Use lamps rather than overhead lights (especially in the winter) to help create a warm atmosphere. If the property’s unoccupied make sure the power is switched on and all lightbulbs are working.
Though people have different comfort thresholds when it comes to temperature, there are sensible things you can do. If it’s a warm day and not too noisy outside open windows. If its colder put the heating on, though don’t set it too high so rooms feels noticeably warm.
Clean the property regularly: dust and dirt accumulate quickly on window sills and other surfaces, and will simply detract from any good impression you’ve made and keep musty smells at bay.
Different properties in different locations demand different marketing approaches. We’ll tailor whatever we do in line with the likely tenant profile, and have a full range of tools at our disposal.
We use experienced photographers who understand how to bring out the best in any room: a good picture will be the first hook for most people’s interest in a property. We can go further, creating 360º walkthroughs on our website, offering a compelling virtual experience before anyone steps over a real threshold. Our floor-plans are professionally drawn up and we pride ourselves on their helpful accuracy.
Sometimes traditional brochures can still be a powerful marketing tool, particularly when they are well-designed and well-written. We try to ensure that ours are free from the usual clichés of the estate agent world and focus on giving thoughtful and useful information, as well as presenting your property in the best possible light.
We use all the main property websites, as you’d expect, but we’ve also invested substantially in our own website. It offers advanced features like our 360º walkthroughs, and is expertly coded to ensure our properties feature prominently in likely search engine results.
We maintain a vast and smart database of potential private and corporate tenants who are actively looking in our areas, built up over years of active business and marketing. Our intuitive database matches properties as they become available with the very people who we know could be in the market.
They might seem old-fashioned, but display boards on the property site remain a powerful way to catch people’s interest while they’re out in a location. They offer a direct pointer to further information and an invaluable way to bring in potential tenants.
We have well-established relations with a number of blue chip corporate clients. This means we are a necessary point of reference when they want to find medium and long term accommodation for staff.
The internet has become the primary shop window for the property market in any area. Consequently we’ve designed our offices to be primarily places to bring owners, tenants and opportunity together. They are places to talk but naturally we highlight as many properties as we can in display areas and windows.
Offline advertising and PR
Online listings have supplanted traditional local printed media and usually we wouldn’t try to promote through that kind of newspaper or publication. We will seek unique editorial exposure (where appropriate and feasible) working with our PR company, particularly where a high value property is likely to appeal to overseas tenants.
It’s quite possible in London that you’ll receive multiple offers, and it’s important to balance your different priorities in the let. We’ll help you assess your desired tenant profile against the offers on the table and come to a decision that’s fully-informed.
We are experienced and expert negotiators, so will work on your behalf to secure the best terms for your property. We’ll insist on transparency at every stage of the negotiation, keeping you fully up to date.
Once an offer has been agreed you and the prospective tenant will receive a confirmation letter. It’ll set out full details of the proposed tenancy, including start dates. It’s not legally binding, but you should check it carefully because it will form the basis of the formal tenancy agreement. It’s normal at this point for a tenant to pay an administration deposit, typically an advance of one or two weeks’ rent. We will then check references and present to you a full reference report on each tenant. Assuming everything is satisfactory we can then move to the final stage, where the tenancy agreement is signed.
The tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between you and your tenant. It will set out the full details of the let, including any special conditions. We’ll draw this up for you in compliance with all applicable law, so ensuring that you have the full protection of the law in any dispute.
There are two types of tenancy agreement for residential property: the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), and Contractual Tenancy. We’ll advise you on which option is best for your circumstances. It will depend on whether the let is to an individual or a company, and factors such as the level of annual rent.
Once we’ve created the appropriate agreement you’ll need to check it carefully, and if everything is satisfactory return a signed copy for us to hold.
From 6 April 2007 a landlord is required to place any deposit from an Assured Shorthold Tenancy in an approved tenancy deposit scheme. We are members of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, administered by The Dispute Service Ltd. You can find out more from www.thedisputeservice.co.uk.
It’s important for everyone at the end of the tenancy that you have in place a comprehensive Inventory and Schedule of Condition covering the contents of your property and its decorative order. This should ideally be drawn up by a professional inventory clerk, a service we can easily arrange for you. You should ensure that the property has been thoroughly cleaned (including deep cleaning for carpets and curtains) before this inventory is drawn up, just before the tenancy begins. The tenant is contractually obliged to return the property to you in this same condition, with due allowance for “fair wear and tear”.
We will collect the agreed deposit and first rent instalment just before the tenancy is due to begin. Once the funds have cleared and signed tenancy agreements formally exchanged you should hand over the keys (including spare keys). It’s usually convenient to do this at the same time as the inventory check and sign off.
And that’s it! We’ll continue to be with you of course, most obviously if you’re using our management services, but whatever our relationship if there’s something property-related that we can help you with, we will.