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As an experienced landlord you may know all there is to know but this guide will cover anything that you may not know or clarify matters. We often find that no matter how long you have been a landlord there is always something that you may not know, probably because it has never concerned you before, but its better you understand what problems may occur and how to deal with them before they occur. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
If your property has gas, it is illegal not to have a gas safety certificate if tenanted. Gas safety certification must be carried out annually.
Before advertising a property we also must have an EPC, if you have just purchased the property, your property should already have an EPC.
When it comes to showing potential tenants round, it is surprising how far a bit of paint and a good clean goes. We often show viewers round two, more or less identical apartments and they will say they prefer apartment X to apartment Y, but they couldn't put their finger on why. The one they prefer tends to be the cleanest and the one that has been painted. Viewers will also pay attention to the mastic and the grout in bathrooms, so make sure this is clean or replace it.
Once a viewer has decided they want to proceed with a property, they will apply for the property. As is the case with all agents, we charge application fees, we tend to find our fees are amongst the cheapest and we have not had an applicant turn down a property because of the fees, contrary to other agents. Once an applicant pays their fee, we reserve the property for them for 10 days whilst they get their documentation to us.
We feel the most important thing in this process is transparency. Before we take any money from a tenant reserving the property, we make sure applicants are fully aware what is required.
Our affordability checks are pivotal. If we feel a tenant may not be able to afford the rent, we will request a guarantor, or if needs be fail the application.
With international applicants, we ask rent payments to be made either in larger instalments or upfront.
Before a tenant moves in, we can never be 100% sure that they are going to be the perfect tenant as no agent can but we do our best to find out. With all applicants, providing they have rented before, we always request a landlord reference, which will tell us if they have paid rent on time, if they have been subject to any complaints, if they have been unclean and if they have caused any damage. If the reference is bad, they will naturally fail their application.
Not many landlords do this, but when your tenant is due to move in, if you are in the area and have £5 spare, spend it on a box of chocolates and a 'welcome to your new home'. Even if that is the only thing you do during the tenancy, the tenant will remember it. In the past when tenants have refused to pay rent, it has often because they feel the landlord has not done enough to rectify an issue, for example if a bed breaks and the landlord does not replace it quickly, the tenants may threaten to withhold rent for the period of which they did not have a bed, however if you have bought them a card and some chocolates it is harder for them to withhold rent as they have more of a personal connection to you. We must point out that tenants are legally obliged to pay rent in circumstances such as the example provided but sometimes the rules are broken.
At UK Residential when a tenant moves in we order them a 'Welcome Box' as a gesture of good will.
If a maintenance issues is dragging on, tenants get more and more irate the longer it drags on, so it is important to nip the issues in the bud. Eventually the issue will need to be resolved and there is no advantage of waiting to fix the issue. We understand that finding the cheapest quote is important, but once we find the cheapest quote and authorise the go ahead of the works quickly. We keep our tenants updated regularly. Tenants understand when a contractor is waiting for a part or has had to go push the job back due to an emergency but dislike landlords who drag their feet.
We advise that you use an independent inventory company for the check in and out inventories. That way if damages were caused by your tenant and they are denying their liability, if they claim with the deposit scheme, they are always likely to fail if an independent company has conducted both inventories. If the landlord does their own, bias then comes in and the tenant is likely to win their dispute. Often the costs incurred outweigh the cost of the inventories. With our fully managed service, we take care of the dispute, so you don’t have to worry.
Not only is it vital to read all of the terms of the agreement between landlord and agent, you must understand them, so as your reading the terms and you come across something that you are not 100% sure of, ask us and we will always be happy to aid your understanding.
UK Residential offer three different levels of service, Gold, Silver and Bronze.
We would recommend our fully managed service, but if you are used to managing your own property and want the benefits of online advertising, high footfall and thorough tenant vetting, our let only service is right down your street. That is of course providing you are happy to do all maintenance, collect the deposit, and prepare the tenancy agreement and so on.
With our fully managed service there is zero hassle, the tenants will raise any issues directly with us, we will conduct all the inspections, we will collect the deposit, the tenants will sign our tenancy agreement and so on.
Ideal for the experienced landlord who wants a hassle fee life as we take care of everything from start to finish.
As soon as you sign our terms and provide us with the relevant documentation we advertise your property with photos and a detailed description.
We would then proceed to arrange and conduct viewings.
Once someone decides they want to take your property, we make sure we do all the relevant vetting checks.
Providing all is well with the checks, we arrange the tenancy to be signed, collect and protect the deposit, and arrange the check in.
When the tenant has moved in, all their issues including maintenance, they will report to us and we will resolve any issues as quickly as possible, keeping you updated all the time.
Providing a tenant is not renewing, we re-advertise the property and start the whole process all over again.
If a tenant is not renewing, we arrange their check out and their deposit return thereafter.
Sometimes a tenant may disagree with a cost incurred from the check out inventory. We try to resolve their issues but if not we point them in direction of the deposit protection scheme.
This service is more suited to experienced landlords that maybe have a bit more spare time, know the law relating to lettings, have a tenancy agreement and have contacts relating to maintenance.
We are essentially advertising the property, vetting tenants and finding you a tenant. With the silver service, discounts are available on optional services.
Similar to Silver, without all the discounts on the optional extras.
In all developments there are service charges and ground rent. These will differ at all developments and will depend on your apartment, i.e. a studio apartment will naturally be cheaper than a three bedroom apartment.
Likewise some developments have higher service charges than others, if a development has an onsite concierge, cleaners there every day and so on then the service charge is likely to be higher at a development like this compared to a development with no lift, no concierge, cleaned less frequently etc. You can probably guess which development is likely to attractive more interest and higher rents
Contrary to other big cities, the vast majority of developments in Sheffield offer good service for reasonable service charges.
To give you a working example the service charge for a Studio in West One which is a well-kept development with an onsite concierge would cost you approximately £750, plus £150 ground rent and the achievable rent would be a minimum of £500pcm.
Every year UK Residential are seeing an increase in tenant demand, particularly for city centre properties. Properties in developments such as West One and Royal Plaza usually get snapped up in November for the following year!
Because of the increase demand for city centre properties, landlords can increase their rent year on year knowing that there property will not be vacant. But be careful not to get greedy, as this could result in void periods.
Even for experience landlords, common issues occur but what is important is how these are dealt with.
It has come to the rent due date and the rent has not been received. We operate a very stringent late rents policy which includes immediate contact with the tenant, any guarantor and the landlord.
The matter is chased by telephone and electronically to ensure any arrears are cleared.
Our rent arrears are annually less than 0.02% which is testament to our referencing and stringent late rent procedures.
If we find the property to be in an unclean manner from a viewing or inspection, we will send the tenants a warning letter stating we have arranged a further inspection and should there not be a satisfactory improvement in cleanliness they will be fined and subject to a cost of a professional clean.
If a tenant is subject to any anti-social behaviour such as noise complaints, we will send them a tenancy breach letter which will incur a fine. As a last resort, the tenant can be evicted using the legal process.
The tenant is contractually obliged to ensure all bills are paid. Before a tenant's deposit is returned we ensure that they have provided evidence that they have paid all bills in full to the final meter readings.
If a tenant is found to be smoking in the property (including balcony), they will be charged for fumigation, decoration costs and costs of any other damages caused by smoking. They will also be fined for breaching their tenancy.
Apartments very rarely have windows in the bathrooms, so the extractor fan is relied on to provide ventilation. It is the tenants' responsibility to ensure this is used and if not to report the issue to us. At property inspections, we make sure that the property is being adequately ventilated and warn the tenants if not.
Having a bright pink kitchen is not to everyone's preference. We make sure our tenants are fully aware that before they make any alterations to your property such as painting, putting shelves up or just putting nails in the wall that they seek our/your permission to do so. Often tenants request to paint are usually a good sign, it shows they care about your property, but we do have to be careful. If a tenant doesn't get permission to do the above, they could be liable for decoration costs, plastering costs or any other costs incurred in reversing what the tenant did.
This is a simple start guide to letting your property and should not be relied upon as complete and full advice. Please do contact us and we would be more than happy to have a chat with you under no obligation to us!