Step by Step Letting Guide
1. Accurate valuation.

Do your research. If it looks too good to be true it normally is….

Landlords tend to invite a few agents in and take the average of the appraisal prices as a guide for going to market. Be mindful of one agent’s valuation that is way above the other agents. This tactic can naturally influence which agent you entrust your property with, but be careful, if the property has been over valued in order to gain the instruction, you might lose valuable months of lost rent and still only achieve the mean valuation of the agents you decided not to go with. So keep you feet firmly on the ground.
2. Consider property management.

Landlords often lead busy lives & property management will take all the hassle out of dealing with your tenants on a day to day basis. Some Landlords consider that their parents or a friendly neighbour will be able to manage their property as they know contractors for maintenance. This, however, is by no means the only concern. Letting the property is one area and management is another. This involves demanding and collecting rent on a regular basis and ensuring that rent continues to be paid for the duration of the tenancy; visiting the property on a regular basis to ensure that the tenants are taking care and checking for any general maintenance which might be required; arranging maintenance matters, surveillance of contractors and settlement of accounts; renewals of tenancies; advising on overseas tax matters and allowances. Assuming that the tenancy runs smoothly the managing agent will be well able to deal with the above matters. The more professional Agent will know how to deal with problem tenants who perhaps wish to make deductions from the rent, do not pay the rent at all or who will not leave at the appropriate time.
3 & 4 Presenting & preparing your property for rental.

First impressions count so it is vital that your home looks it best for potential tenants. Externally it is essential that gardens are in a tidy condition. The front exterior is the first view your potential tenants will have of your property so tidy up the front and back garden, weed, trim hedges, clear any dead plants and mow the lawn. When the sun comes out your garden will come into its own.

Keep rubbish and rubbish bins out of sight. Give window frames and the front door a lick of paint if they need it. This will create a much more attractive and well cared for first impression. If you have a swimming pool the pool should be fully cleaned and ready for use.

Internally the two main features to strive to achieve are light and space. Creating more space is done by de-cluttering. Tidy away or remove unnecessary objects or knick-knacks. Clear out cupboards and wardrobes of non-essential items. Lighting plays a very important role in decorating a home and should not be overlooked. It is essential that the house is as light as possible. All broken bulbs must be replaced and replace with high wattage bulbs.

The target tenants will have their own belongings and will also want a blank canvas. Therefore if any walls requiring painting, paint in a neutral shade. It is also essential that the property is clean. A thorough internal clean should be done to include windows inside & out and a carpet clean. Get rid of any unpleasant odours like pet smells and cigarette smoke and make any minor repairs that are needed. These simple and often overlooked steps can really make the difference in how quickly your property can be let and how much rent can be charged.

5. Marketing the property.

Ensure the property is ready, its pointless marketing if there are still works going on or the place is simply a mess (the majority of tenants don’t have the vision to see what the finished article will be). Tenants research their move months in advance of actually making enquiries & will dismiss anything they think has been on the market for a length of time. If re-letting ensure photographs are up to date & as much information as possible has been given. Again, if you the client are not happy ask the agent to make changes.
6. Accompanied viewings.

It is essential that all viewings are accompanied. Its simply not good enough to expect the tenant or landlord do the viewing. Lords Union will do out of hours viewings including Sundays, early mornings and late evenings. Tenants are often busy with work & school commitments so it is essential the agent fits in with their busy lives too.
7. Feedback.

Your agent should give you feed back after each and every viewing. Nowadays this tends to be a quick email note but Lords Union prefers the traditional method of picking up the phone. The feedback may not always be positive but take it and use it to your advantage.
8. Receiving an offer.

An offer will always be made subject to contract and references and should be comprehensive as this will form part of the agreement if the offer proceeds. Lords Union can only advise the landlord whether to accept or not & we are happy to arrange for the landlord to meet the tenant before proceeding if they wish.
9. Offer agreed.

If you are lucky enough to receive several offers be mindful that the highest offer is not always the best offer. A couple on their own would be generally better for the property than a family of four with a cat & dog. Once you have agreed the offer make sure that if there are any special requests i.e. changing carpets or painting a wall you can meet them in the timescales. Lords Union can help organise works on your behalf – Just ask.
10. Referencing.

This is essential in the current financial climate. Reference checks will confirm the tenant’s identity, & current financial situation including an employer’s reference. If they have rented previously a landlord reference will be taken too. Once complete the landlord will be sent the reference conclusions to read and accept. If there are any abnormalities we can discuss and find a solution. At this stage the landlord is still under no obligation to accept the tenants.
11. Insurance.

As the Landlord, you are responsible for maintaining adequate buildings and contents insurance on your property. The tenants are only responsible for covering any personal belongings, which they take into the property.

We would recommend that you notify your insurance company of your proposed letting of your property to ensure that your policies are not affected in any way, i.e. the company refusing to pay out in the event of any claim because your property has been let without their consent.
12. Letting a leasehold property.

If your property tenure is leasehold, i.e. a flat, you should check with your solicitor or the managing agent that the lease does not prevent you from letting the property. In any event, the head lessor should be informed of the proposed tenancy.
13. Tax.

Lords Union recommends that all potential property owners seek advice from their accountants prior to letting their property. Tax is payable on the profits from letting a property. However, various allowances may be set against the rental income, e.g. Managing Agents commission and other expenditures relating to the property.

Expenses relating to the property but not to the letting, such as mortgage interest, repairs and depreciation of fittings can be set against the income but there could be a capital gains tax liability if this is done. If you need more information, please do not hesitate to contact the lettings manager, who will be able to discuss this matter with you in full.
14. Overseas landlords.

As managing agents, under section 78 of the Taxes Management Act, we are required by law to retain a tax reserve at the current rate from the gross rental income received where the property owner is residing abroad. Therefore as your agent, we must retain the relevant tax on rent received unless you have been approved by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to receive rent without tax deductions. In order for you to receive gross rent, you must complete the relevant paperwork and submit it to HMRC before the start of the tenancy. Forms are available from our offices.
15. Gas safety & annual boiler service.

Due to several cases of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning in rented accommodation throughout the country, it is now a legal requirement for landlords to ensure that the boiler and any other gas appliances in their property are checked & serviced on an annual basis.

You will need to provide evidence that this has been done within the past year. You will also need to declare your intentions for the future checks & services, so that we can note this on file and ensure this is carried out on a regular basis. We can instruct our approved Gas Safe Registered engineer to carry out this service if required (Information available on request).

16. Electrical equipment (safety) regulations 1994.

The above regulation imposes an obligation on the property owner to ensure that all electrical appliances at the property are tested for earthing, insulation and leakage. All plugs, fuses and cables must also be inspected and replaced where necessary to the correct rating for that particular appliance. Other legislation covering electrical installations are currently in force and in order to avoid prosecution, we recommend that all electrical appliances in let properties are regularly tested and serviced.
17. Energy performance certificate.

From October 2008 landlords offering their property for rent will be required by law to provide prospective tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate for their property.

The certificates (‘EPCs’) will have to be provided free, either when (or before) any written information about the property is provided to prospective tenants or a viewing is conducted. A new certificate will be valid for 10 years.

The requirement is being introduced to comply with the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which applies to all properties including rented properties. This became law in 2003, however it was fully implemented in January 2009 so as to provide time for sufficient numbers of energy assessor to be trained.

If you would like us to carry out a report on your behalf, please contact our office and ask to speak to a member of our lettings team.
18. Contract preparation.

This will in most cases be An Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement with a minimum term of 6 months but sometimes people opt for a 12 month agreement. Lords Union use a comprehensive tenancy agreement.
19. Inventory & Schedule of condition. Cleaning.

Hand the property over in the condition you want to receive it back. We advised that a full professional clean including carpets should be carried out before all tenancies. The last person to be in the house before the tenants take occupation should be the inventory clerk. A full and comprehensive inventory & schedule of condition carried out by an independent company should always take place with the tenants signing off the inventory to confirm they should return it in the same order minus fair wear and tear.
20. Handover.

This is often done by the inventory clerk when they have finished their inspection. Normally a tenant will be given two sets of keys along with a welcome letter, this will have all the information the tenant should need for a happy tenancy.

N.B. Keys will not & should not be released until your agent is in receipt of cleared funds for the rent and deposit as well as the duly signed tenancy agreement.