the think property essential residential lettings guide
thinking outside the box.
take a little time to think about the estate agent you choose and trust… welcome to the think property guide to letting At Think Property we recognise that as a Landlord you demand a high level of knowledge and expertise from the agent you select. You may need to be guided through the legal requirements and tax issues, you may just want us to find you a Tenant or need your property fully managed and maintained. We think that each of our Landlords will have different requirements and we will ensure that the service we provide ticks all your boxes. Think property will offer you sound professional advice based on almost 20 years experience in the lettings business. This guide will help you to achieve the maximum rental income, while at the same time avoiding the common pitfalls. We hope you find it both helpful and informative.
“think” experience is everything
have a “think” about our unique approach
think property are not content to rest on the laurels of our combined years of experience – instead we strive to ensure that our customers are delighted and that their experience of selling, buying or letting a home through think property is as stress-free and effortless as possible. It takes skill and expertise to negotiate a tenancy successfully through to completion and still achieve the best possible price. Through training and experience our employees offer expert advice on both the letting process and your legal obligations as a Landlord. We will ensure that everyone stays informed at all times and if a problem arises we will act quickly to think about the problem and find a solution.
We think that by investing in the ongoing training of our staff, our greatest asset, the constant upgrading of our tools and technology and the way we think about our strategic marketing allow us to ensure that you benefit from the latest initiatives, innovations and opportunities within the industry.
“think” service We believe that merely offering good customer service just isn't good enough in any business and that excellent service should be the rule and not the exception. At think property our customers’ needs and expectations are anticipated, allowing us to deliver a seamless experience time and time again. We ask for feedback on our service and performance, and we promise to think about your comments and if you think of anything we can do to improve then we will think about it and where necessary make changes. We are passionate about the property industry and enriching our clients’ experience, and delivering an excellent service that our clients’ will recommend without hesitation.
think property ensure that we will always be available to arrange and carry out viewings of your property when a potential applicant needs to. Our offices are open 9am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am -5pm Saturdays. In addition, our phone lines are open 8am-8pm, 7 days a week to speak to you about anything you may think of. With all of these tools and resources at our fingertips we have taken a fresh look at every aspect of our service and rethought it to better Landlords and Tenants alike.
“We were rather daunted by the prospect of letting our property for the first time but using Think Property with their many years of experience helped us avoid all the pitfalls.”
“thinking” of your best interests at all times ARLA is the professional and regulatory body for residential lettings. It enables us to keep up to- date with changes in legislation and sets professional standards. For us to uphold via the ARLA Code of Practice. It also provides specialist training for our staff and inclusion in the ARLA Bonding Scheme which ensures protection.
From the misappropriation of clients’ money. In order to comply with ARLA’s membership requirements, an ARLA member will have been formally interviewed to confirm that their business meets with the stringent code of conduct. In addition, ARLA members must hold separate client accounts (which are subject to independent audit) and professional indemnity insurance. Further information about ARLA can be found on their website: www.arla.co.uk
we think that you benefit from the best marketing bar none! the think property marketing strategies think property understand the value and importance of high impact, strategic marketing and by combining state of the art modern technologies, tried and tested traditional methods and our own unique resources and marketing materials, we offer a truly competitive edge. When it comes to marketing your property we believe that innovation and creativity are desirable but effectiveness is essential and have listed below our top ten proven effective methods of marketing your property
1. think… professional photography
4. think… telemaketing
Let’s all think about this. High quality presentation of your property is vital to attract tenants. Once you have instructed us to let your property we will arrange a convenient time with you to take exceptional photographs, that allow us to showcase your property like a work of art via the various media available to us and attract more serious qualified applicants to view your home.
We think that it is our job to ensure that we call every suitable applicant we have registered on our database to tell them in person about your property and to encourage them to view. It is this proactive and positive attitude that sets us apart: we don't sit and wait for the phone to ring and for applicants to come to us; we do everything possible to find them for you.
2. think… internet The internet is now the first port of call for those looking for a property. Through the web we can reach the largest possible audience for your property. As well as our own website www.thinkpropertyuk.com we utilise all of the major external property portals including RightMove, Prime Location, Zoopla and Findaproperty.com, to name a few. We also carry out strategic marketing on Google, MSN & Yahoo to ensure your property reaches the maximum number of active applicants searching on the internet.
5. think… local property press think property advertise properties and have regular editorial in the local property press. Whilst statistics show that most readers of the property paper are not currently looking to move - reading it avidly out of curiosity - our advertising helps to maintain our high profile and encourages fresh applicants to register with us. We think that more applicants equals a greater likelihood of letting your property for the best price, in the shortest time.
6. eye catching think property boards 3. think… SMS & email We have thought very carefully and invested wisely in state of the art technology to ensure that when you instruct us to market your property it is marketed with immediate effect. Our award winning specialist property software is regarded as the market leader and allows us to send out daily email, sms updates of your property to registered motivated applicants.
A property To Let board is a full time advertisement for a property - and experience shows that many properties indeed rent as a result of this more traditional approach. They catch the eye of passers-by, start trains of thought in visitors to the area, and inform neighbours who may have friends, family or colleagues interested in a property such as yours. When you've got property in mind, you can't ignore a think property To Let board
7. mail shots to make everyone think We mailshot regularly throughout the Leigh, Chalkwell, Westcliff and the Southend areas, calling out for valuations, providing information on property-related matters, our services and changes in legislation. These informative leaflets also serve to increase awareness of think property among prospective applicants in the area - encouraging them to register with us.
“In order to archive the highest possible rent, maximum marketing time should be allowed…… ..however it is not unheard of for us to let a property at the full market rent within hours of receiving instructions!”
8. Our very own think pad Location Location Location !! This is where we do all of our thinking our very own think tank. The office is situated to maximise our exposure to window shoppers and passing traffic, our shop front is like a magnet to those with moving on their minds. With stylish display cards on rotation to showcase our latest properties, attention is grabbed... and then held - by the prospect of a property-related chat over coffee with our knowledgeable, experienced staff. You are always very welcome we would love you to pop in. There’s always a buzz in our think pad!
9. think know our Twitter from our Facebook
10. really thinking outside the box Last but by no means least are our ever changing ways of marketing our brand awareness to ensure that when you instruct think property to let your property you will know that you have ensured that your property is being given maximum exposure. We advertise in a diverse number of locations in local gyms, washrooms, train stations, hairdressers, restaurants, bars and even windsurfing sails!
think nk integrity. in
Social networking is an ever growing medium with more and more applications appearing that integrate with these sites. We have been thinking about how these can enhance the marketing of your property and have our own pages where we Tweet your property or tell our friends all about it!
think property managment
why use think property management ? zTenants
prefer managed property these days more and more Tenants request managed properties as it allows a more professional service, removing the emotion from both sides.
management can be the key to reaping maximum rental returns on your property
free inspections and peace of mind for Landlords
think property managment
Technology is our future and this has been reflected in our approach to harnessing the very latest technology for the benefit of our clients and the enhanced efficiency of our staff and systems
Only you know how much time you can spare to deal with your
Giving you a fast and successful service is achieved through our
to give you peace of mind and relieve you of the commitment of
investment in Dezrez â€“ real fast time information systems.
being a full-time Landlord
Tenant's telephone calls and the resulting work. Our comprehensive Property Management service is designed
This state of the art software package enables us to market your property immediately from our office, I phone, I pad or laptops 24 hours a day. We can distribute lettings particulars via email and text messaging at the touch of a button
Once a Tenant has been found you will be allocated a Property Manager who will deal with every aspect of the let throughout the whole of the tenancy period, This provides you with continuity and accountability and obviously one point of contact.
Our ARLA trained Property Managers are highly experienced in prompt rent collection and credit control as well maintaining proactive relationships with Tenants enabling them to manage not only the property but the Tenants expectations CFP software is the market leader in property management
We continually vet contractors thoroughly to ensure we only
software. CFPâ€™S innovation and excellence in cash accounting
use companies providing the very best quality of workmanship
has resulted in it being the first and only property management
and at a competitive price, keeping Landlords worry-free.
software to be accredited by the institute of charted
We carry out a thorough inspection 6 weeks after your Tenant
moves in and then periodically thereafter providing you with recommendations and details on any improvements should they be required, giving you reassurance that your property remains in sound condition for future rentals, as well as minimising the cost of repairs by acting in good time.
“There is now a wide choice of flats and houses on the market for tenants to choose from, so it’s more important than ever to make yours stand out from the crowd!”
Preparing the Property
Personal items, ornaments etc.
The condition of a flat or house is often the deciding factor for
Personal possessions, ornaments, pictures, books etc. should be
potential Tenants. Tenants are usually prepared to pay more to get
removed from the premises, especially those of real or sentimental
more and there’s no doubt that a property in tip top condition will
value. Some items may be boxed, sealed and stored in the loft at the
achieve a higher rent, will let quickly and be well looked after.
owner's risk. All cupboards and shelf space should be left clear for
We have found that a good relationship with Tenants is the key to a smooth-running tenancy. As Property Managers this relationship is our job, but it is important that the Tenants should feel comfortable in their temporary home, and that they are receiving value for their money. It follows therefore that a well presented and maintained property in a good decorative order will go towards this, whilst also achieving a higher rental figure. Tenants are also more inclined to treat such a property with greater respect. General Condition Electrical, gas plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order. Repairs and maintenance are at the Landlords expense unless misuse can be established. Interior decorations should be in good condition and preferably plain, light and neutral. Furnishings Your property can be let fully furnished, part furnished or unfurnished. Which of these is appropriate will depend on the type of property and local market conditions. We will be pleased to give
the Tenant's own use. Gardens Gardens should be left neat, tidy and rubbish free, with any lawns cut. Tenants are required to maintain the gardens to a reasonable standard, provided they are left the necessary tools. However, few Tenants are experienced gardeners, and if you value your garden, or if it is particularly large, you may wish us to arrange visits by our regular gardener. Cleaning At the commencement of the tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean condition, and at the end of each tenancy it is the Tenants' responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning will be arranged at their expense. Information for the Tenant It is helpful if you leave information for the Tenant, e.g. on operating the central heating and hot water system, washing machine and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc.
you advice on whether to furnish or not and to what level. As a
minimum you will need to provide decent quality carpets, curtains
You should provide one set of keys for each Tenant. Where we will
and light fittings. Remember that there will be wear and tear on the
be managing we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.
property and any items provided.
think property management
Other Considerations zYou
will need a comprehensive tenancy agreement setting out the rights and obligations of both Landlord and Tenant
will advise you on all the options available to help you make an informed decision as to which Tenancy Agreement is right for you
If your property is mortgaged, you should obtain your mortgagee's written consent to the letting. They may require additional clauses in the tenancy agreement of which you must inform us.
If you are a Leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease, and obtain any necessary written consent before letting.
When resident in the UK, it is entirely the Landlords responsibility to inform the Revenue & Customs of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. Where the Landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy, he will require an exemption certificate from the Revenue & Customs before he can receive rental balances without deduction of tax. Where we are managing the property we will provide advice and assistance on applying for such exemption.
You should ensure that you are suitably covered for letting under both your buildings and contents insurance. Failure to inform your insurers may invalidate your policies. We can advise on Landlords Legal Protection, Rent Guarantee Cover and Landlords Contents and Buildings Insurance if required.
It is most important that an inventory of contents and schedule of condition be prepared, in order to avoid misunderstanding or dispute at the end of a tenancy. Without such safeguards, it will be impossible for the Landlord to prove any loss, damage, or significant deterioration of the property or contents. In order to provide a complete service, we will if required arrange for a member of staff to prepare an inventory and schedule of condition, at the cost quoted in our Agency Agreement if we are not managing the property.
Bills and regular outgoings We recommend that you arrange for regular outgoings e.g. service charges, maintenance contracts etc. to be paid by standing order or direct debit. However where we are managing the property, by prior written agreement we may make payment of certain bills on your behalf, provided such bills are received in your name at our office, and that sufficient funds are held to your credit. Council tax and utility accounts We will arrange for the transfer of Council Tax and utility accounts to the Tenant. Meter readings will be taken, allowing your closing gas and electricity accounts to be drawn up. All these matters we will handle for you, however British Telecom will require instructions directly from both the Landlord and the Tenant.
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy? Most tenancies will automatically be Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), provided the rent is under ďżĄ25,000 a year and the property is let to private individuals. Tenancies are usually granted for an initial fixed term of either 6 to 12 months. When the fixed term has expired the landlord is able to regain possession of the property provided he gives two months written notice to the tenant. In addition, if the tenant owes at least 2 months or 8 weeks rent on the property he can apply through the court to seek a possession order.
Health and Safety and other Legal Requirements The following requirements are the responsibility of the owner (Landlord). Where we are managing the property they are also our responsibility. Therefore where we are managing we will ensure compliance, any costs of which will be the responsibility of the landlord. Gas Annual safety check: Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. On the 1st April 2009 the Gas Safe Register replaces the CORGI gas registration scheme. From this date all gas engineers will be legally required to have registered with the Gas Register. It is illegal for anyone who has not registered to work on gas appliances or installations. Those that have been registered will have been issued with a Gas Safe Registration ID Card and their own unique licence number. The card will have a photograph and hologram and consumers will be able to verify it on the Gas Safe Register website at www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or by phone on 0800 408 5500. The front of the card will also include the start and expiry date and the reverse will show what work the engineer is qualified to carry out and what appliances they can work on e.g. gas fire, boilers, cookers etc. Maintenance There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipework are maintained in a safe condition at all times. Records Full records must be kept for at least 2 years of the inspections of each appliance and flue, of any defects found and of any remedial action taken.
We are fully versed in the current safety legislations to ensure that both Landlord and Tenant are fully covered and protected.
Copies to Tenants A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences, or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out. Electrical There are several regulations relating to electrical installations, equipment and appliance safety, and these affect landlords and their agents in that they are 'supplying in the course of business'. They include the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets Regulations 1994, the 2005 Building Regulation - 'Part P, and British Standard BS1363 relating to plugs and sockets. Although with tenanted property there is currently no legal requirement for an electrical safety certificate (except in the case of all HMOs) it is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only safe way to ensure safety, and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your 'duty of care', or even of manslaughter is to arrange such an inspection and certificate. Fire The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows and non-original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, bedcovers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.
think property management
Health and Safety and other Legal Requirements continued....
Smoke Alarms All properties built since June 1992 must have been fitted with mains powered smoke detector alarms from new. Although there is no legislation requiring smoke alarms to be fitted in other ordinary tenanted properties, it is generally considered that the common law 'duty of care' means that Landlords and their Agents could be liable should a fire cause injury or damage in a tenanted property where smoke alarms are not fitted. We therefore strongly recommend that the Landlord fit at least one alarm on each floor (in the hall and landing areas). Is your property a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)? If your property is on 3 or more levels and let to 5 or more tenants comprising 2 or more households (i.e. not all of the same family) it will be subject to mandatory licensing by your local authority. Whether mandatory licensing as above applies or not, if there are 3 or more tenants not all related in any property, it is still likely to be an HMO, and special Management rules apply. Learn more here: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/licensinghouses.
For more information and to obtain an HMO Licensing Information pack and HMO Licensing application form please contact Private Sector Housing on 023 8068 8301. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) The HHSRS provides an analysis of how hazardous a property is through assessment of 29 potential hazards found in housing. Landlords have to maintain their properties to provide a safe and healthy environment. The HHSRS is enforced by local authorities. For further information visit www.communities.gov.uk/hhsrs The Tenancy Deposit Scheme From 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by Landlords and Letting Agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Landlords and Letting Agents must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a tenancy deposit scheme. To avoid any disputes going to court,
each scheme will be supported by an alternative dispute resolution service (ADR). Landlords and letting agents will be able to choose between two types of scheme; a single custodial scheme and two insurance-based schemes. You can learn more on the government website, which includes an overview of the requirements, and also links to the sites of the companies running the various schemes: www.direct.gov.uk/en/TenancyDeposit/index.htm The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 The DDA 2005 addresses the limitations of current legislation by extending disabled people's rights in respect of premises that are let or to be let, and commonhold premises. Landlords and managers of let premises and premises that are to let will be required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. Under the new duties, provided certain conditions are met (for example, that a request has been made), landlords and managers of premises which are to let, or of premises which have already been let, must make reasonable adjustments, and a failure to do so will be unlawful unless it can be justified under the Act. Landlords will only have to make reasonable adjustments. And they will not have to remove or alter physical features of the premises. Learn more here: www.dwp.gov.uk/aboutus/dda_factsheet4-premises.pdf Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) From 1st October 2008 landlords in England and Wales offering property for rent are required by law to provide prospective tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate for their property. The certificates must be provided free either when (or before) any written information about the property is provided to prospective tenants or a viewing is conducted. A new certificate will not be required on each let since, in the case of rental property, EPCs are valid for 10 years. The requirement is being introduced to comply with the EUs Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) which applies to all property, including rented property. We can arrange an EPC inspection for our landlord clients upon request for ÂŁ75.00 +VAT.
At Think property we will keep you abreast of market opinion and other factors influencing the buy to let market.
As appointed introducers for several insurance companies we are able to offer a variety of insurance policies for both landlords and tenants, including the following -
This policy provides total peace of mind for landlords. Cover includes the rent you are expecting from your property until vacant possession is obtained for up to 12 months (excluding the first month's lost rent). Additionally, cover includes 50% of the rent for up to 3 month's after possession is obtained whilst a new tenant is found. All related legal expenses are included.
Buildings Insurance Covers the rebuilding of your property following loss or damage caused by fire, aircraft, smoke, malicious persons (including tenants), accidental damage to bathroom fixtures & fittings and glass, lightning, explosion, collision or impact, falling trees and earthquake, theft (by forcible means), subsidence, riot/civil commotion, storm, flood, escape of water or oil leakage and loss of rent up to 20% of the sum insured following damage. Also includes property owner's liability. Limited Contents Cover Where the property is let unfurnished limited contents cover is available; this provides cover for the following items: Carpets, Curtains, Sun Blinds, Light Fixtures & Fittings, and Kitchen White Goods. Cover is on a new for old basis. Also includes landlord's liability. Contents Insurance Cover on a new for old basis for loss or damage caused by fire, aircraft, smoke, malicious persons, lightning, explosion, impact, theft (by forcible means), subsidence, riot/civil commotion, storm, flood, escape of water or oil leakage, breakage of mirrors or glass in furniture, replacement of locks following theft of keys, and loss of rent up to 20% of the sum insured following damage. Also includes landlord's liability. Legal Expenses You may be unable to collect the rent, your tenants may damage or remove your personal possessions, or they may cause a nuisance to your neighbours. All these problems can be resolved by legal action but this is expensive. This cover includes all of your legal expenses up to ÂŁ50,000. There is no policy excess to pay.
Investment With typical returns of up to 7% achievable on capital investment in residential property to let in much of the UK, the buy-to-let market provides a highly efficient long-term investment medium. Pre-purchase guidance Our considerable local experience in this field, together with our independent status, means that we are able to provide practical and impartial advice on such matters as the type of property and the area that you should consider, and also on a choice of lenders to approach to suit your circumstances. Pre-purchase guidance is available free of charge. Post-purchase refurbishment From minor works to complete refurbishment, we are able to assist in the process of preparing the property for letting in a variety of ways, including the arranging and supervising of redecoration and repairs, carpeting, curtaining and furnishings. Our relationship with local suppliers and tradespeople ensures competitive pricing and quality workmanship. Our fees for arranging and supervising refurbishment works are a minimum of 10% of the total expenditure.
think property are a straight talking team of estate and letting agents... say hello to fantastic service, and happy motivated people!
• • • •
sales lettings management finance
218 Leigh Road • Leigh on Sea • Essex • SS9 1BP f. 01702 471887 e. firstname.lastname@example.org
01702 470625 www.thinkpropertyuk.com think service. think honesty. think integrity. think property.
Our essentail guide to everything you need to know about lettings.