Thursday, 16 September 2021

Landlords - what you should check before arranging a viewing

Demand for rental property seems to be at record highs, with literally dozens of prospective tenants wanting to view and snap up a property within hours of it being marketed. A recent house I listed had over 50 enquiries within 48 hours; but clearly it can only be let once! Processes therefore need to be put in place to avoid wasting the time of both yourself and some of the interested tenants who either won’t be suitable for the property or will find that the property is not suitable for them.

The first port of call is to understand who will be living at the property, as there may be restrictions on the property’s usage from both a legal and/or practical perspective. For example, I recently had two couples and a friend wanting to share a three-bedroom house. Housing five adults would mean more wear and tear on the property than many of the other potential applicants but, even more importantly, it would mean the landlord having to apply for an HMO license from the council (at a cost of £1,098!). Conversely, I had two friends wanting to rent a two-bedroom apartment; not a problem I said, but are you happy with the second bedroom only being a single? They weren’t, and thus checking this saved me and them the bother of viewing a flat that wasn’t appropriate for their needs. 

You should also speak to the tenants about their financial situation; doing so now will save conducting a viewing with tenants who might fall in love with a property, only to find they can’t pass the referencing. You should ask whether they have any credit issues that might affect their application, along with understanding their income to ensure it passes the typical affordability criteria set out by referencing agents. If an issue is identified, you could consider whether an alternative solution can be found, such as having a guarantor or for them to pay rent upfront.  

Finally, understanding the tenants’ situation is often useful. If the property is vacant and therefore available to rent immediately, it is beneficial to find tenants who can move in as promptly as possible. On the other hand, if the property is not ready to move into for a couple of months, then it’s little good showing it to someone who needs to move within a fortnight! You may also discover that the prospective tenants are only looking to rent for a short period of time, which may not fit with your preference for a long-term tenancy.

All being well, I then send the prospective tenants a video walkthrough of the property, which is recorded from a first-person perspective as if they were viewing the property (including commentary). This shows far more than a description, photographs and floorplan can do alone, and helps to ensure the property is suitable for them. This has greatly cut down the number of viewings whereby the prospective tenants weren’t already chomping at the bit to take the property (saving everyone’s time and helping to keep people safe during the pandemic). 

This all means by the time I’m viewing a property with potential tenants it is highly likely that they will want the property (assuming it matches the video) and that I will want to, and be able to (from a referencing point-of-view) rent it to them. 

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