Step by step guide to Letting your Property
Letting a property in London can be a lucrative source of income and a great investment, but there can be pitfalls as well as profits. At Fraser & Co, we have over 20 years’ experience of letting and managing properties across London. We’re particularly proud to have been awarded the title of ‘London Letting Agent of the Year’ at the Landlord and Letting Awards and we know the market inside out. As a company, we can help you find quality tenants, optimise your return on investment and manage all the paperwork professionally and efficiently to ensure the process is as painless and profitable for you as possible.
First impressions count
If you want to maximise the rent your property achieves and minimise the chance of a long void period, before showing your property it is important to ensure that it is presented in a good state of repair, freshly decorated and in a clean and tidy condition. This can make all the difference between a quick rental and an empty property languishing on the market. Stylish interiors will maximise your return on investment and it is strongly advised that smaller properties are let fully furnished. For larger properties, seek advice from our lettings representative and consider furnishing on a case by case basis, since larger properties are often let to families who bring their own furniture. In this case, it is essential that light fittings, curtains and floor coverings are in place.
If you have recently acquired a property as a rental investment, Fraser & Co can arrange for an experienced interior designer to decorate and furnish your property in line with your budget in order to maximise its appeal to prospective tenants. We can also arrange and oversee full renovation and refurbishment projects if required. Please contact us to find out more.
Check your existing mortgage and insurance arrangements before renting out a property for the first time, landlords should review any existing insurance and mortgage arrangements. Your existing mortgage provider may not be happy for you to let the property and may insist you switch to a buy-to-let mortgage, while some standard insurance products will either not provide cover or may place restrictions on cover for a rented property and/ or its contents. There is a wide choice of insurance products available for rental properties so it may make sense to switch to a more appropriate insurer. It is worth noting that it is the landlord’s responsibility to insure the building and any contents owned, but the tenants are responsible for insuring their own possessions.
Request a valuation
A member of Fraser & Co’s experienced valuations team will be delighted to attend your property at the earliest convenience to provide a complimentary no-obligation market appraisal. At this stage we can also advise you of any recommended improvements to help maximise your return on investment, as well as updating you on current legislation to ensure your property complies with the latest rules and regulations. To book an appointment, please call one of our offices. If you decide to appoint Fraser & Co, we can organise a government-required Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your property, or if you prefer you can arrange one yourself. It is a legal requirement to have this document available for prospective tenants to see.
Finding suitable tenants
As soon as you decide to instruct Fraser & Co to let your property, our proactive approach to marketing will begin in earnest. All members of our experienced lettings team will immediately be made aware of your property and all relevant applicants will receive details of your property via email. We will also proactively call applicants who the property is most likely to appeal to with the intention of arranging immediate viewings. As well as appearing on our own website, your property will also automatically be listed on all the main property portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation. Fraser & Co are able to market selected properties as premium listings or featured properties to ensure your property stands out from others on the market. It will also appear in our window display and in print advertising (if relevant) to ensure that it is seen by as many potential tenants as possible. We accompany all viewings at mutually convenient times including early mornings, evenings and weekends, to ensure that we are on hand to answer any questions about the property and the local area. Over the years, Fraser & Co has developed close relationships with many blue chip companies, embassies and relocation companies and we keep them constantly updated on the properties we have available. In fact, many of the tenancies we arrange are corporate lets.
When suitable tenants have been found, a holding deposit is taken at this time to ensure the commitment of the tenants whilst the rent and any other conditions are successfully negotiated and a moving-in date agreed. We will take care of all necessary paperwork prior to the tenants moving in. Before signing the tenancy agreement, it is advisable to complete a reference check on the prospective tenants. This generally includes a credit check, employment status, proof of income, a reference from a previous landlord and possibly a character reference. At Fraser & Co, we employ the services of an established company to perform robust reference checks to ensure that your property will be let to quality tenants. The process could take up to 10 days to complete.
Once reference checks have been completed to your satisfaction, both you and the tenants will be required to sign a tenancy agreement which outlines the rules you both agree to adhere to, and states the period of the tenancy and the rental payments. In the UK, the most common form of tenancy agreement is a Shorthold Tenancy Agreement.
An inventory will be prepared to record the contents and condition of your flat or house at the point when your tenants move in. Because it’s important for this to be impartial, we recommend using a specialist inventory company. They will give you and your tenant a copy of the inventory and carry out another inspection at the end of the tenancy to check that nothing’s missing or damaged.
Taking a deposit and moving in
Just before the tenants move in, they will be required to put down a deposit (which will be held in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme) and pay the first month’s rent in advance. As soon as this money clears, we will hand over the keys and your tenants can move in. You can now sit back and watch the rent roll into your bank account! However, letting a property isn’t always plain sailing and if you live far from the property or lead a busy life, it’s always a good idea to consider appointing a property management company to look after the property on your behalf. They will deal with any problems promptly and remove the headache of being a landlord. After all, if a leak happens at 11pm on a Saturday evening, do you really want to have to deal with it? As a company, Fraser & Co offers a highly efficient and competitively priced property management service and we currently manage 80% of the properties we let.