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As a first time landlord, we understand you may not know all the ins and outs of lettings, but hopefully this guide will go some way to helping you. Whether you already have a property that you wish to let out or you are just simply considering buying to let, UK Residential will be happy to give you free advice and help you at any time with no obligation!
If you haven't already purchased a property, then consider the following:
The city centre will always be a safe bet when it comes to buy-to-let because of the volume of students in Sheffield. Whilst the universities are there, properties surrounding them will always be in demand. Not only that, there are also a high number of professionals that rent in the city centre for convenience and to save on travel costs.
There are areas in Sheffield that have previously had bad reputations and have not been very desirable to tenants or indeed landlords. Take for example Norfolk Park, if you are from Sheffield you will know that Norfolk Park has had its problems in the past with attracting tenants because of its reputation. However we have seen increasing demand for properties in this area. The majority of tenants in this area are young professionals but we are noticing that more and more students are showing interest. The advantages of Norfolk Park for tenants are; that it is still within walking distance of the city centre (albeit a long walk) or a short tram ride or drive, parking facilities are usually included in their rent (to rent a space in the city centre would cost about £70pcm upwards), rents are cheaper than the city centre and transport links from here are fantastic. If you are unsure about some areas, check with us. We can provide examples of properties that have let in the area, how much they have let for and how long they have taken to let.
The advantage of buying a house to let, as opposed to an apartment is that you avoid service charges which can often cost you approximately £1000 to £2,500 per year. However make sure you do your research. Look into the area you are buying. Has there been issues with anti-social behaviour? Are there schools nearby? Does the area have a high student population? Can you park on street? All these are essential factors to tenants.
When looking for a property to buy, UK Residential will always be happy to give you advice on properties.
We will visit the property to take marketing photos and write a detailed description. Your property will then be advertised to attract prospective tenants. Legally, you must have an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) before it can be advertised.
When we visit the property, we will inform you of any areas that we think may require some attention. It is amazing how much a good clean and freshly painted walls will go in turning viewers into tenants.
Once a viewer decides they want to proceed with your property we then request the relevant documentation and references.
Providing all is well with the documentation and references, the applicant will be approved and we will then send their tenancy out to be signed and request their deposit.
We will take care of arranging the check in with the inventory providers and the tenants.
We register the tenants for all utilities and council tax.
Any issues (including maintenance) a tenant has they will contact us and we will resolve the issue as efficiently as possible and keeping you updated along the way.
Again we will arrange this between the inventory providers and tenant. We will also advise the tenant on how to get their deposit back.
Providing the tenant is not renewing, we advertise your property. We advertise early to avoid/minimise any void periods.
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.
We tend to find this depends on the area. For city centre properties we would always advise landlords to furnish their properties. 99.9% of prospective tenants looking for city centre properties are looking for furnished properties.
Whereas prospective tenants that are looking for somewhere further afield, particularly if they are looking for a house rather than an apartment tend to want unfurnished.
Most tenants prefer to have their own bedding, cutlery and crockery and where a landlord has provided this, tenants often ask if they can dispose of it.
Most tenants don't have their own kettle and microwave, but this is never a deal breaker.
UK Residential offer three different levels of service, Gold, Silver and Bronze.
As a first time landlord, we would strongly advise you to opt for our fully managed service.
This service is ideal for first time landlords or landlords that just want to sit back and relax, whilst 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.