Although UK rents are on the up, it’s a tricky time to be a landlord, with more legislation than ever to consider. As a result, many landlords are either turning to the professionals to help through the minefield unscathed or selling up and exiting the sector altogether.
However, there is one element of the landlord lifestyle that can be better left to the landlord – handling the initial viewings.
Whilst it may seem a little scary at first, looking after the viewings for your property can be a really beneficial move, for both you and your prospective tenant. By meeting a tenant beforehand, you can ensure they are the right person without taking your agent’s word for it. Whilst referencing your tenant is always recommended, your ‘gut feeling’ is also a vital element and should not be underestimated!
Of course, it also gives you a chance to build a personal relationship with the potential tenant which makes life significantly easier if you hit any snags down the line.
Meeting your tenant early also gives them the opportunity to ask you questions about the property, that a letting agent may not be able to answer.
Whilst your agent should have a good understanding of the property’s particulars and the surrounding area, they may not be able to answer questions about whether you are happy with the tenant redecorating, subletting a room or signing a three-year agreement.
Getting the answers to these questions locked down early could make or break whether a tenant chooses to proceed, and could save a lot of to-ing and fro-ing for everyone.
Adam Male, director of Lettings at Urban.co.uk, commented: “Just like the relationship between a buyer and seller during the sale of a house, building a repour between landlord and tenant is vital for a smooth tenancy. While a letting agent adds value to the process in some areas, hosting viewings yourself is a great way to not only get a feel for someone but also to answer any questions they might have, speed up the overall process and ultimately find the tenants that works for you.
Hosting your own viewings has become the norm now for UK home sellers but it isn’t as prevalent in the rental sector. That’s why we’ve put together a few easy tips to help the nation’s landlords carry out a smooth viewing.”
At Urban.co.uk, we encourage our landlords to manage their viewings, and thousands of landlords across the UK are finding their perfect tenants this way. If you’re thinking about giving it a go, we’ve compiled our top ten do’s and don’ts to help you master a viewing.
Always prepare the property before a viewing: A clean and tidy property will be more appealing to a viewer. You (or your tenants if they are helping out) don’t have to say ‘yes, come immediately’ every time if you need an hour to get the place straight, take the time you need. Don’t forget, if you have tenants in situ, you must give them 24 hours’ notice if you wish to access the property and they have every right to refuse.
Be friendly, welcoming and warm – but stay professional: You want to be welcoming but you will need to maintain a good relationship as landlord and tenant! Try and strike the balance.
Host viewings during the day whenever possible: A sunny outlook makes everything more appealing, and you can really show your property and garden off to its full potential. Not always possible in the UK, but the weather is on our side at the moment! Worst case any natural light will be better than none.
Prepare for questions and respond honestly: Think of the main questions and prepare the answers. How much is council tax? What are the average monthly bills? How far away is the station? Is the local takeaway any good? You could even prepare a document to hand to the viewer that they can take away and consider.
Be clear on the next step – should the viewer contact you, or your agent if they wish to proceed. Some tenants may not want to contact you, especially if the property is not for them, so you may be better placed asking them to give any feedback to your agent if you have one.
Conduct viewings alone for safety reasons: Wherever possible, ask for someone else to be present when you host a viewing. In addition to the safety concerns, having a second opinion on a prospective tenant is always a bonus.
Hover over your viewers, give them space to talk: Some people decide on the spot whether they want to take a property, so do give your prospective tenants a chance to consider things without hovering over their shoulder. However, do bear in mind the security element if you have existing tenants living in the property, you have their belongings to consider.
Rush the viewing: Expect a viewing to take around 10-15 minutes (unless you are letting a palatial pad)! Any longer, especially if the viewer revisits rooms and looks to be sizing up for furniture, is a great sign.
Push for a decision: Whilst some viewers may come to a decision there and then, others may want to go away and have a think, do some calculations, have a coffee and a wander around the area, or see some other properties. They may even want to come back for a second viewing with a family member or friend. If the potential tenant is right for you and the property, there’s no point rushing them into a decision, it’s better to wait and make sure they are happy – pressure won’t help here!
Be disheartened if the first viewing doesn’t result in a tenant – Not every viewing will yield the perfect tenant. It’s far better to wait for the right person and cement a harmonious relationship, than settle for someone who’s not right for your property.