Letting Property Advice

publication date: May 18, 2010
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Letting Property Advice

What is the best piece of lettings advice that you can be given when deciding to be a landlord and letting your own home or an investment property? The most important advice to listen to with lettings is to secure expert independent advice!

The reason you need specialist lettings advice is that over the last ten years there has been at least ten different changes in the law to letting a home. Whether it is making sure you have an energy performance certificate before your market your home to let or knowing how to protect a tenants deposit legally, get caught breaking the rules and you could end up with hefty fines and even a jail sentence.

You also need to seek advice from an independent professional on how much a property will let for. For example if an estate agent is trying to sell you a home, then why ask their lettings department what it will let for – they will make more out of selling you the property than letting it to you. Be sure you don’t get given a figure that you can rent the property for and then find that the property lies empty for weeks on end. Go to a specialist letting agent that doesn’t sell any properties and check what they think it’ll rent for.

Understanding and keeping costs under control is important when letting a home, but worry less about the letting agent’s on-going management fee (which is around 10% of a month’s rent) and more about your mortgage cost, what maintenance you have to shell out for and what the overall annual charges a letting agent will bill you for.

Most landlords just look at the percentage fee and try and squeeze agents to 8% instead of 12%, but don’t forget on an average rent of £500 per month, 12% management fee is just £60 a month, whereas renegotiating to 8% will only reduce your fee to £40, so £20 reduction a month. If this is the difference between a really good service and a bad one – is it a good idea to go with the lower fee agent?

Finally make sure you get specialist, not cheap, insurance cover. It’s essential to be covered for things like malicious damage as well as accidental damage and ideally that if you are using an agent, their fee for handling any work will be paid for out of the cover itself.

Lettings is a complex business, full of very complicated and time consuming administration – and that’s not including the tax forms that you have to fill in and eventually pay! So make sure you seek independent specialist lettings advice before you let or invest in property.

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