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Letting out your own home to move abroad or relocate can be a great way of testing the water first. Alternatively, it could be that you are looking for an investment opportunity.
We have put together this short landlord guide for first time landlords covering a few key points that you need to take into account before you commit.
If you would like some advice or to have a chat with one of our specialists then call or pop into your local branch.
1.Consider your needs
Is the property you want to let an investment or your home? You will have different priorities and needs and the help and advice of a property professional can be essential at an early stage.
Talk to your mortgage lender as early as possible to make sure you can get consent to let your property, or if you would like some independent mortgage advice, see our Buy-To-Let Mortgages guide here.
2. Consider your time scales
We recommend that you market your property no more than 8 weeks before you want it let, but no less than 4 weeks. The standard length of a tenancy is 12 - 36 months, with break clauses to suit the parties involved.
3. Talk to a Letting agent
At Lauristons we can help guide you through the process and assist and advise you if you are considering letting your property. We always welcome the opportunity to meet all of our clients so drop in for a chat about the market and a coffee anytime. Meet our people, talk through what you are trying to achieve, so you have got all your facts and figures to hand to be able to make a decision.
When you instruct your agent they should book an appointment to come and take photographs and arrange for an Energy Performance assessment in order to start marketing the property, unless an EPC exists already. You can check the national register here.
6. Terms of Business
You should agree terms and read the Terms of Business, complete the landlord information, sign and return them.
At Lauristons we will place your property on the market within 1 working day of receipt of the Energy Performance Certificate. We will upload your property immediately to Lauristons.com, match with our database, contact prospective tenants, place your property on Rightmove & Zoopla and advertise in the local press. With several thousand tenants on our database at any one time, the chances are we have your new tenants registered with us already.
At the viewing stage we will pre-qualify all potential tenants and accompany all viewings. We have found that the majority of activity will take place approximately between 6 and 2 weeks before the property's availability date.
We will ring your prospective tenants 24 hours after the viewing for their feedback and comments if we havent had this already. We will then contact you with the outcome and any necessary actions required as soon as we have it, and we provide a twice weekly general update as well to give you an overview of activity.
When an offer is made we will try to contact you immediately and confirm your instructions on how you would like to proceed. We take a non refundable holding deposit of £500 from the tenants when they make an offer to make sure they are committed and to test they haven't made offers on other properties.
11. Referencing Process
If an agreement is reached we will start the referencing process immediately (it usually takes about 3-7 working days dependant only on how long people take to respond) and it covers credit history, employment history, previous landlords and any reference guarantors if required. It is worth understanding the criteria set by your agent for referencing as these may differ, and some do "internal" references. At Lauristons we use an independant third party agency whose criteria is very strict. We would rather know at the start of the process whether there are any potential problems and look for new tenants if we need to.
12. Pre Tenancy Lettings Progression
Our Lettings Progression team are responsible for managing all pre-tenancy activity with you and your tenants and will introduce themselves as soon as you accept an offer. If we are responsible for organsing any pre-tenancy services, they will be arranging these, as well as issuing the tenancy agreement via Docusign. They will likewise be responsible for making sure the Tenancy is compliant, whether organised by us or not. We will not execute any tenancies that are not compliant, as we have a duty of care to both the tenants and landlord. Click here for more detail.
Tenants are required to pay a deposit prior to the start of the agreement. As from 2007 all deposits under an Assured Shorthold Agreement, which is the majority of agreements signed, must be registered and proof of registration will be provided. The deposit required is 6 weeks rent unless we agree a higher deposit separately.
14. Inventory & Check In
Depending on the service type you have opted for we can arrange for an inventory of your property and deal with any other pre-tenancy services required.
15. Standing orders
Lauristons will request the tenants set up a standing order to make the rent payment.
16. Property Management
At Lauristons we take great pride in knowing that our dedicated Property Management team will ensure that your home or investment and your tenants are well looked after. Please contact the team at Wandsworth or your local branch if you would like to learn more about the Fully Managed service.
17. Safeguarding the Investment
If you opt for the Fully Managed service, your dedicated Property Manager will contact you to introduce themselves as soon as the new tenants move in. They will already have done a pre tenancy inspection of the property prior to this to familiarise themselves with the detail. They will monitor that the rent is paid on time, that your home/investment is looked after and that any necessary maintenance is dealt with promptly.
2-3 months prior to the end of your fixed term our Renewals Manager will contact you to discuss your future plans. We will assess the current market position, provide a rent review as standard and advise accordingly. We will then contact your tenant to discuss their plans. If they choose to move on then we still have plenty of time to remarket and find new tenants.
This allows further commitment, planning and budgeting for another fixed term. The process replicates the start of the original tenancy.
19. Serving notice
If you wish to serve notice Lauristons will advise on the necessary steps given the circumstances – e.g. whether fixed term (as above) or periodic and serve the necessary notices if required.
20. Keep your books up to date
A landlord has many obligations as far as compliance (EPC, deposit registration, gas, electric etc) and tax, see our Buy To Let Guide. It is essential you keep an orderly up to date file of all paperwork, so that you can demonstrate this is the case if any random checks are made by any government agencies. If we fully manage the property we will do this for you.
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