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Accidental landlord? How to make a good return that affords your maturing lifestyle

You find yourself in the fortunate position that you own properties surplus to your requirements. Perhaps you and your spouse have moved into one home together, or you’ve moved outside of the city in favour of more space for a growing family – and now you have a conundrum. 

With the sales market in London stagnant due to a surge in supply as amateur landlords seek to exit the market, made worse by the fact that buyers just aren’t there right now, except for at silly prices, selling doesn’t seem like a viable option.

However, your first time renting out a property will be challenging. Maybe your parents always told you to hold onto bricks and mortar as the most solid investment assets, but it’s not as straightforward as flicking your home up online and watching the money roll in. 

There’s number of stages that must be completed to maximise your property’s rental income potential. The first is to make the flat attractive to the profile of tenant most likely to live there. In Canary Wharf, the vast majority of tenants require at least a basic level of furnishing, like beds, a sofa and some storage. Neutral décor is important and, even at an early stage, the property should be clear of as many of your personal possessions as possible, enabling prospective tenants to get a clearer vision of living there themselves. 

When listing your property, professional photography and floorplans can make a huge difference to the rate of people looking at the ad in detail, and can even lead to your asset commanding a higher price. If you have a fairly up-to-date smartphone, you can capture photos of a reasonable quality and walk-through videos or tours on Skype or FaceTime are also becoming more popular, particularly if a prospective tenant can’t make it to view the property in person.  There are even cheap apps that measure out a rough floorplan using your phone’s camera, though you should stipulate that the measurements aren’t accurate to a professional degree. Text descriptions should be concise and focus on the key features that appeal to a tenant, for example if the property has a balcony, car parking or access to leisure facilities included. At Harrisons, we even have an in-house publisher with a network of media contacts to maximise exposure for our properties, and command high-quality tenants at the best price. Finally, having an EPC (or at least having one booked in) is a legal requirement prior to marketing.

At viewing stage, it’s recommended that you vacate your property while an agent conducts the appointment with prospective tenants. The easier the property’s availability is to view, the more likely you are to find the right tenant more quickly, so if you have a spare key to give to your appointed agent or are happy to accommodate viewings outside working hours in the evening or at the weekend, so much the better.

Selecting the right tenant once you receive offers is the point at which you need to decide your own motivation for renting out the property. Do you want the flexibility of having break points in your contract so that you can reclaim possession of the property sooner? Perhaps you’d consider letting to students if they paid upfront or had guarantors. You should use a reliable, independent referencing facility for peace of mind, and register the tenants’ deposit independently. A good agent will help you to weigh up the pros and cons between multiple offers, rather than rushing you to accept something that they know to be risky or disadvantageous. 

Finally, consider the liability the property may pose throughout the length of the tenancy. It’s strongly recommended that a first-time landlord opts for a full management service, especially if they work full time, rather than juggling the intricacies of maintaining a rental property. Harrisons offers a management service that can be configured to a landlord’s individual needs, as well as Gold Service, which goes as far as guaranteeing rental income even if the tenants are late paying, and removes virtually every responsibility so that your income as the landlord is entirely passive.

If you’re considering letting your property, speak to one of our experts to identify your individual challenges and expectations, and we will perform a full market appraisal for your asset.


Accidental landlord? How to make a good return that affords your maturing lifestyle

by Andrew Matin


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