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Old 02 August 2010, 19:12   #11
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As already said DO NOT PAY AN AGENT to manage the property, as soon as the tenant calls them they will call a tradesman, they don't care its your money not theirs.

Agents are useful for tenant find service and will take 50-100% of 1 months rent depending upon the deal you do with them.

Go to every agent in town and haggle the best deal you can. It does not matter then which one finds the tenant as the one that charges 4 weeks rent and finds you a tenant has still done it quicker than the others. In the mean time market the property yourself.

Credit checks have little value, I suspect most experienced landlords would agree.

The tenant find service includes a contract however the AST contract is pretty standard and something you can easily source,

Student sharers always pay more than other families and couples.

My best tip is paint the property internally, make it look good asap. You should not be telling perspective tenants that the following work will take place b4 they move in, it should always look spotless. Once you have tenants look after them. If they get on with you and stay is saves loads of agency fees and void periods. It also saves you doing the obligatory decorating each time someone moves out

At the end of the day any tenant can mess you around but every agent will mess you around.
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Old 02 August 2010, 20:55   #12
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Anyone have any view on the loft conversion idea?
Hi Tim,

we have a rental property in Cardiff. As others have mentioned, we use an agent to advertise and then manage /maintain the property ourselves...easier said than done, but worth finding a reliable /good tradesman who you trust and have them on hand for any probs (essential for us as we live 100 miles away).

Re the loft, I had similar thoughts to you....

We have three rooms which are used as bedrooms currently (two beds and a second reception room) and had considered turning the loft into a third /fourth bedroom

Generally, if you go multiple occupancy route (students etc) it can be v. costly in terms of getting it up to spec....although sounds like you are looking for straight forward resi (single dwelling)....

To be used as a bedroom rather than a loft room you will need to meet bulding regs and will have to involve /get signed off by bldg inspector.....IMO not worth taking any risks if renting.

Prob obvious, but guess you need to number crunch / consider what the cost would be to carry out work vs increased yield and increased resale value (as well as any cost of borrowing if req to do work....including interest etc)

Obviously, each property is different, but some main considerations are:

Would it need to have a 'protected' stairwell (fire)?
Whether you can achieve the min head clearance (2m IIRC)where stairs open into loft /allowing for pitch of roof?
Whether you have enough space for a complaint staircase in terms of travel etc?
Dependent on when the house was built, what kind of roof / trusses you have etc....would prob need to provide calcs for any mods? - employ a struct eng
Is the current ceiling (loft floor) suitable for load bearing as built?
Cost of regs compliant insulation /power install and testing etc (all has to be certificated)
Fire /bldg regs in general (escape skylights etc)

Would be worth having a chat with your local bldg inspector....and downloading the regs.

When we looked into it, and despite the fact that the roof structure and floor needed no work, it still wasn't finacially viable for the increased revenue /sale value....the latter was especially influenced by the fact that the rest of the accommodation (kitchen size, no. toilets, size of living room etc.) were not really large enough for a 4 bed property....Plus, the property isn't earning income while you are doing the work....

Ultimately though, its the numbers which matter the most!

Dan
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Old 03 August 2010, 05:05   #13
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Thanks Doug and Dan, some good advice and info. What are the things that we have to make sure we comply to? This is what I can think of:

Smoke alarms (where and how many?)
Carbon monoxide alarm, optional but a good idea.
Gas certificates for all gas appliances
Fire resistant furnishings
Electrics inspected if over 15 years old

Anything else?
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Old 03 August 2010, 14:30   #14
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Hi Tim, I have a couple of rental properties and would echo much of what's been said here.

The two big things I would add are:

1. As Doug posted above, don't use the agent to 'manage' the property. The agent will call the most expensive tradesperson to fix any problem and, of course, you're paying an extra 5% for the privilege.

2. It's really very important to negotiate the renewal rate now - at the outset. I didn't think to do this and have to cough up 10% (many thousands of pounds) just for the existing tenants to sign a bit of paper with Hamptons. I think the renewal rate should be half of the finders commission, or lower if you can negotiate it.

If you decide to go it alone, let me know as I have emailable tenancy agreements you could have a look at.

I would continue to use an agent as they find a tenant and ensure you're complying with the law - but with the above reservations.

Can I add a PS....

Be aware of CGT and your ability to flip properties if you're thinking of selling this flat (which sounds additional to your needs for some reason). There are some tax issues with long-term renting - not terribly complex, but good to consider these points now. Once rented you can't flip it to a PPR for example... that kind of stuff.
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Old 03 August 2010, 14:41   #15
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Just make sure you comply with relevant legislation such as getting gas boilers serviced and the like. Tenants have a lot of rights these days.
Aye, the bu@@ers.

Gone are the days when we could gas 'em with Impunity. Or Gas.

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Old 03 August 2010, 14:49   #16
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Tenants have a lot of rights these days.
My experience is in commercial prop letting. The legislation is much kinder on the landlord as your not providing a home. Private residential is a whole different ball game. It's just cost us 1200 to issue formal notice of eviction on a couple who had converted the spare room into a dope factory.

Use an agent to find and vet prospective tenants and nothing else. This will incur a one off finder's fee. Agent management is a joke.
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Old 03 August 2010, 15:28   #17
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neilda, thanks for the info. Sounds like an agent will have all sorts of ridiculous charges I hadn't thought of. Would be good if you could email me those documents, email on my website (see below).

Its interesting that everyone has said use an agent to find the tenants because I thought I could probably do that myself. I know that they can advertise in more places and perhaps we would save money by finding tenants quickly but other than that, I don't see much advantage? If I pay them to find the tenants but NOT do the management then they aren't going to give two hoots about who they find so I think I'd rather find and vet tenants myself...thoughts?

The house (not a flat by the way) has been part left to me by my lovely Aunty who recently passed away which is the reason I want it to be looked after. Rough plan is to rent it until such time that my brother and I want to buy houses or its the right time to sell financially.

Mollers, 1200 to evict a couple?!!! Why so much? Do you get it back? That's got to make you mad
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Old 03 August 2010, 15:54   #18
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Mollers, 1200 to evict a couple?!!! Why so much? Do you get it back?
No chance. I say "out", they say "no", it goes legal, they get legal aid, I don't. That's how it works. Be very, very thorough vetting and checking all references. I try to go with friends,relatives or work colleagues of existing tenants if poss. That policy tends to work.
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Old 03 August 2010, 18:42   #19
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Got to agree with Mollers here, took 9 months to get rid of one tenant and all I managed to claw back was a few hundred quid. All judgements in my favour, arrested wages etc but they knew exactly what they were doing. Perfectly respectable couple, in their forties, both working. I've let comercial and domestic, both were a pain in the erse, but I've never been near an agent. You can do it all yourself but it's hard work.

If you can get a long term occupancy (5 years ish) it makes life so much easier, as has already been mentioned, you usually end up redecorating between lets. I guess I used to get about 3 years out of a refurb, (decorating and carpets) possibly a little more out of a kitchen but not much and about 5 for a bathroom. Remember, they'll not treat it as well as you would. You also tend to find that as things slowly deteriorate, people don't notice, but bring in a new tenant and they'll walk straight back out.

Only other bit of advice would be visit regularly for at least the first few months, I didn't and found the tenant had traded the flat for a drug debt and there was a hooker operating from it.

Good luck.

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Old 03 August 2010, 18:46   #20
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......and there was a hooker operating from it.


free
1200 worth?
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