tenants

Dedicated to Lettings

July 10, 2013

If you are considering renting your property as an alternative to selling, it would be understandable if you considered using the agent who is handling your sale, to find a tenant instead.

However, a word of caution here on two counts. Firstly, many estate agents who are struggling to achieve the number of sales conducted at the height of the boom have suddenly decided to handle lettings, apparently as an alternative revenue stream.

Yet rentals is a very different business to sales, requiring a variety of skill sets of which many estate agents simply have no experience or natural inclination. Estate agents seldom, if ever, have to handle lease documentation, references, deposit guarantees, or inventories. They are unlikely to have any knowledge of the relevant landlord and tenant laws, nor are they likely to be able to advise you about important aspects of health and safety legislation that will certainly affect you as you move from resident to landlord. They also often have a culture of quick fix sale rather than the ongoing care required in property management.

Secondly, agencies who handle both sales and lettings are potentially much more exposed to financial difficulty during these difficult times. This is especially true of agents who are new to lettings, because it usually takes several years to develop a portfolio of rental properties that is sufficient to sustain a healthy business. Even if the agency has been in the business for some time, they are likely to be highly reliant on their sales volumes. It doesnt take many missed loan or VAT payments to prompt the collapse of a business that may have been around for over a hundred years.

Letting your property is an important decision, and requires the services of a dedicated lettings specialist who has the training, experience, knowledge and skills to help you ensure that your greatest asset is protected and profitable. Please feel free to call us for a confidential chat about letting your property. We only do lettings, and we like to think we do it pretty well!


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The New Landlord

June 19, 2013

1214 Buy FreeholdMany would-be sellers are simply not prepared to sell their home for what they regard as too low a figure. It may be that the realistic current price of their property falls below their mortgaged amount, putting them into a negative equity situation. Perhaps you want to downsize but the fall in the value of your own home has outpaced the fall in value of your new purchase in cash terms. Or maybe there is simply the feeling that it would be mad to sell such a large investment at what might be regarded as the bottom of the market.

So, many people are deciding to let their property instead of selling. This makes good sense for a number of reasons. Firstly, if your rental income at least covers your mortgage payments, which may well have dropped due to low interest rates, you effectively gain a free investment, although do consider the costs of renting such as insurance and management charges.

The chances are that as an owner occupier, you could well achieve a fast let at a high rent, as you will be competing with buy-to-let properties that will not be presented to such a high standard as a property in which the owner has actually lived, and which feels like a home.

However, there are many issues to consider before letting your property out. It is not just a matter of finding a tenant. There is extensive legislation in place of which you should be aware, including fire regulations, other health and safety issues, deposit protection etc as well as insurance certification, lender consent, rights of tenure, etc. Letting has become a complex specialist field, and we strongly recommend that you dont go it alone. Why not contact us for a free consultation with one of our experienced lettings experts?


Posted in: Latest News

Buying to Let (Part Two)

June 5, 2013

Last week our article looked at the benefits of buying to let in principle. Here we consider some practical elements:

Attitude: Buying to let is a long-term investment, so dont stretch yourself, because if you had to sell in the short term you would almost certainly lose money.

Choose well:  Follow your head not your heart. So take advice as to which property would represent a sound letting proposition. Is there a strong market in your area? And always buy within a few miles of your home so you can keep an eye on the property.

The right mortgage: It can be worth increasing the mortgage on your own property rather than taking out a separate one on the rental property. Definitely worth speaking to a specialist here.

Hidden costs: Remember insurance, rates, maintenance and long-term improvements. The biggest unforeseen cost could be a period of vacancy. Nationally, the average vacancy period is reported as 24 days a year*.

Management: You could manage the property yourself or appoint a letting agent who will also find tenants, ensure the agreement is watertight, and collect references and rent.

Insurance: You may require special insurance, and as a landlord you also have certain responsibilities such as compliance with fire regulations.

Tax: Rental income is taxable but mortgage payments may be deductible. Any profit you make when you sell the property might also be liable to Capital Gains Tax, so it may be worth putting the property in joint names to take advantage of two personal allowances.

Please feel free to call us for a chat if you would like to investigate buy-to-let opportunities in this area.


Posted in: Latest News

Buying to Let (Part One)

May 28, 2013

As pension funds shrink, many people are considering buy-to-let as a viable alternative, and with good reason. The effect of relatively low interest rates and a historically rising property market make buy-to-let one of the most attractive investments accessible to the public. And the great thing is you can use the banks money! The average national annual return is around 5% excluding capital growth potential*

Whilst the capital value of property has fallen recently, it has always risen strongly over the longer term, and such an investment was never designed to be a short term fix!

The principle is this: The compounding aspect of the value of the property coupled with increasing rental returns far outstrip any inflation in running costs in the medium to long term. Your annually rising rental income should more than cover your mortgage payments in the long term, because repayments do not compound in the same way, although fluctuations in the rate of interest over the term should be expected.

In principle your surplus rental income should eventually pay off your mortgage, providing you with a regular retirement income whilst keeping your equity intact, and hopefully rising. Bear in mind that if you do choose to pay off your mortgage early, the whole of the rental income may be taxable. Some people purchase another property when they reach the point of surplus and build a viable property portfolio. Capital Gains Tax may also be payable on any sale of a buy to let property and we would always suggest you seek the advice of an accountant before purchasing a buy-to-let property.

Please feel free to call us for a chat if you would like to investigate buy-to-let opportunities in this area. Next weeks article will consider some of the practical aspects of buying a property to let.


Posted in: Latest News

Touching Up

May 21, 2013

touching upWhen letting your property, you naturally want your property to look its best, but how far should you go in terms of presentation?

Firstly, aim to understand how your property sits within the market. Not all tenants have the same criteria, so walk through the house with your letting agent to identify your propertys strengths and weaknesses. Look through the eyes of a typical tenant, and consider what aspects should be improved to enhance your chances of letting to that person.

For example, it may be that your property is in generally good condition, but the carpets let it down. Whilst you could take account of this in the rent, new, or professionally cleaned, carpets can transform the presentation of a property and appeal to a tenant who might otherwise be put off. However, if your property is in need of general updating, a new carpet could be a waste of money unless combined with an overall improvement.

A tenanted property can sometimes experience harder wear and tear than an owner-occupied one, and a new tenant will always prefer to make it their own rather than simply taking over from the last tenant. So a simple coat of paint can generally do wonders and need not be expensive.

Additionally, a tenant who moves into a fresh, clean well-presented, newly-redecorated property, knowing they need to return it one day in the same condition, is more likely to look after it more carefully and even stay longer. A tenant with a sense of pride is generally a good tenant! We like good tenants – so do our clients!


Posted in: Latest News

How Many Should I See?

May 14, 2013

how-many-should-we-seWhen looking to rent a property, it is natural to want to see as many properties as possible before making the “right” choice and common sense dictates that a handful of alternatives should be viewed before deciding which to rent.

Our job as professional letting agents is to help tenants make decisions that are genuinely in their best interests, which, without our assistance, they might have had difficulty making. So here are some pointers for those who might be struggling to balance the merits of No.33 with its new kitchen against No.16, with the better garden.

First, there is a place for instinct and sometimes the heart should be allowed to influence, if not rule, the head. This is a home after all. Ask yourself the obvious question, “could I be happy here?”

However, sometimes you need your head to agree with your heart. Is your favoured property a significant improvement on where you already live, or are you just being bowled over by a smart exterior or fashionable lighting?

Weigh up the important aspects of life commuting time, school run, parking, entertaining space (although do you really entertain that much?) Satisfy these first before allowing the view or the extra storage space to sway you away from your reason for moving.

Finally, you can bet your bottom dollar that if you instinctively like a particular house, other tenants will as well. We usually find that a property that fills most people’s basic needs, as opposed to their wants, will let very quickly. The more you see, the more difficult it becomes to make a decision at all. So our advice is: decide your minimum criteria with your head and once these are satisfied in a property, let your heart take it from there. Happy hunting!


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Happy Landlords

May 7, 2013

happylandlordsA survey of over 500 residential landlords by Endsleigh Insurance reports that landlords are overwhelmingly satisfied with the service they receive from their letting agent and find them an invaluable resource. Some 92% of landlords reported a positive experience with their letting agent.

The market for lettings is of course relatively buoyant that the moment and agents must be vigilant not to allow standards to slip. Whilst there are many prospective tenants for each property it is usually quality that is the issue, not quantity. The survey reported that whilst speed of finding a tenant was important, the vast majority (93%) of landlords said that one of their main priorities is ensuring that the tenant is reliable. This usually means someone who will look after the property and pay their rent on time.

The survey confirms the importance landlords place on agents going that extra mile to service clients by finding good-quality tenants and filling properties quickly, while providing a consummately professional and personal offering.

This is nothing new to us of course as even when properties were harder to let, we were always fastidious about ensuring that tenants were well-referenced. Anyone can guarantee someone elses rent, but if they themselves are not good for the money then such a guarantee is not only a waste of paper, but also provides landlord and agent alike with a false sense of security. Sadly a defaulting guarantor is only discovered long after the tenant has bolted.

Fortunately, at Kingsford Letting, these instances are extremely rare and we pride ourselves on the quality of our tenants with whom we generally enjoy an excellent relationship on behalf of our landlord clients.


Posted in: Latest News

A Word to Landlords about Presentation

April 16, 2013

presentationWhen letting your property, you naturally want your property to look its best, but how far should you go in terms of presentation?

Firstly, aim to understand how your property “sits” within the market. Not all tenants have the same criteria, so walk through the house with your letting agent to identify your propertys strengths and weaknesses. Look through the eyes of a typical likely tenant, and consider what aspects could be improved to enhance your chances of letting to that person.

For example, it may be that your property is in generally good condition, but the carpets let it down. Whilst you could take account of this in the rent, new, or professionally cleaned, carpets can transform the presentation of a property and appeal to a tenant who might otherwise be put off. However, if your property is in need of general updating, a new carpet could be a waste of money unless combined with an overall improvement in the presentation.

A tenanted property can sometimes experience harder wear and tear than an owner-occupied one, and a new tenant will always prefer to make it their own rather than simply taking over from the last tenant. So a simple coat of paint can generally do wonders and need not be expensive. Hastings House Clearance

Additionally, a tenant who moves into a fresh, clean, well-presented, newly-redecorated property, knowing they need to return it one day in the same condition, is more likely to look after it more carefully, and even stay longer. A tenant with a sense of pride is generally a good tenant. We like good tenants! So do our clients!


Posted in: Latest News

Manage Your Investment

April 9, 2013

manageyourinvestmentSome landlords, especially those who are new to the experience, understandably wish to use a letting agent simply as a route to market in order to find a tenant. However, whilst a return on investment is one thing, sleeping well at night is quite another! A managed service is not just about chasing late rent, resolving disputes and inventory control.

When your property is professionally managed, its all about accountability. This means regular inspections to check that your tenant is treating your investment with the respect it deserves. During these inspections, well-trained staff are able to identify any areas that should be investigated in order to avoid or reduce costs later. An example would be a blocked gutter. Normally, you would only hear about this when the tenant calls you to tell you that water is coming in, plaster has come away from the wall and there is mould on the ceiling. Call in the dehumidifier, plasterer, and painter and you have a large bill and an unhappy tenant.

Many tenants also prefer to rent a property that is managed through a letting agent, possibly because they have had a problem landlord in the past and they tend to stay longer.

Additionally, no matter how compliant a tenant may seem at the outset, the last thing a landlord needs is someone phoning him/her at all hours with the some minor issue over a draft, dripping tap, clanking pipes, noisy neighbours, etc. All or these are part of a days work for a dedicated managing agent!

One of the most important considerations is that as property managers, we get to know our clients tenants, and have a good understanding of their plans, often pre-empting a premature departure, so we can prepare and let the property in time to avoid it being empty even for a day!

Most of our landlords derive great value from our managed service and we invite you to experience the difference yourself!


Posted in: Latest News

The Critical Importance of Referencing

April 2, 2013

The critical importance of referencingIn an ideal world, once a tenant has been found, it would be good to think that the landlord can simply sit back and watch his/her investment deliver the anticipated return on investment without further involvement. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why some letting agents only offer a tenant finding service. Simple really or is it?

But experience is a great teacher, and we have proven time and again that tenants must be fully referenced before signing. Indeed, before we rent a property to even the most apparently upright tenants, we thoroughly research their rental history. This involves checking with a credit referencing agency and enquiries from a previous landlord.

Unreliable tenants cause landlords the most sleepless nights according to research by the National Landlords Association, with 57% of NLA members saying that unreliable tenants are one of the most worrying aspects of being a landlord.

So what is a reliable tenant? Well obviously one who pays the rent, in full on time, and makes sure all the utility bills are also paid. But reliability goes beyond this. Will they turn out to be anti-social, perhaps making excessive noise, leading to complaints from neighbours? Good landlords are keen to make sure that their tenants behave as good citizens.

Damage to the premises, fixtures, fittings and contents, creates hassle for landlords as well as significant additional expense, especially when it goes beyond what is covered by the tenants deposit.”

Approximately 36% of landlords nationally (source NLA) have, at some point in the past, been obliged to resort to the courts to seek possession of a property from a troublesome tenant. Our job as dedicated letting agents is to ensure that the right tenant is secured in the first place, and then managed well, so that the landlord can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your investment is delivering a return on investment, not a headache.