On Monday we hosted a webinar "How Not to be a Landlord: Common Landlord Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them" for over 300 Upad Landlords.
We will be re-running the webinar on the 4th of November at 7.30pm. You can sign up here.
As always we left some time for a healthy Q&A session. Here's a selection of the best ones from the evening...
Q: Do you set your comparable property on a 3 mile radius?
A: The distance you should set on a property alert very much depends on the local market. In a city centre 1/2 a mile should provide more than enough results to keep you up to date, whereas a market town may require a 3 mile radius. It's also important to know which neighbourhoods and even streets that fall in your search area are the most comparable to your property.
Q: When is the best time to negotiate a rent rise and renewing the letting contract?
A: There are some great tips on handling this tricky subject in this recent post.
Q: How often do you contact tenants? I have tenants that I don't ever hear from unless there is a issue. The last time I heard from them was 2 months ago. I should add they are paying rent on time and never late.
A: This a very common scenario and you shouldn't be too worried. The important thing is that they do tell you promptly when there is a problem. Personally I like to exchange emails or a phone call with my tenants every 3 months.
Q: Does including a plan of the property help achieve a better rent?
A: A floorplan allows the tenant to visualise themselves living in your property; where they'd have dinner, where their furniture would go, who would sleep where. This will make them more confident about the property and therefore far more likely to commit to making an enquiry. This means you’ll get more enquiries and more tenants to vet for viewings.
Q: Have you covered whether it is best to rent furnished or unfurnished?
A: If you want to maximise your yield then, in most cases, a well-furnished property will pay back the cost of the furniture within 24 months (including wear and tear). Even if you don’t want the hassle and outlay of furnishing, it makes huge sense to “dress” your property for photography to create that “show-home” look. Once you’ve had the photos you can use them again and again on Upad.
Q: Any advice for those of us who are "part time" landlords and have a 5 day a week "day job" ? In particular, regarding the advice to do landlord viewings.
A: If your time is limited then you can always hold an open house for a couple of hours. This has the added benefit of creating a bit of competition between potential tenants. It's still crucial to vet your tenants over the phone first and to make the 'rules' of the subsequent decision making process clear.
Q: Are you going to get involved in self selling properties or just focused on self letting for now?
A: We've spent 5 years (and counting!) getting Upad right and by having a single-minded focus we think we've developed a unique and effective service that is custom made for landlords. One of the big problems with traditional estate agents is that lettings is almost always the poor cousin to sales in the office (mainly because of the commissions involved) particularly in the boom periods.
Q: No tenant ever asks for an EPC. Please comment.
A: Compared to the purchase of a house I think it's a fair assumption that not as many rental decisions are influenced by the property's energy rating. However, as tenants look to stay longer in properties the cost of energy bills is becoming a greater factor. We have added a question on this to our next tenant survey which is going out next week.
Q: How do you choose your tenant if several are prepared to take your property?
A: If they have all passed your vetting questions equally then the only real ways to decide is to go with the ones you feel you can have the best relationship with; which ones do you warm to the most? Remember they are likely to be your customers for years to come. It may also help to write out your priorities for the successful candidate before you start.
Q: Will you be able to help with viewings in future?
A: It’s a service we might consider if we could maintain the high level of service we demand from our team in the office and still offer it for a good price. However we firmly believe that meeting your own tenants and starting that relationship is a critical part of forming a successful tenancy.
Q: Will Upad go international? For example, in Australia?
A: Maybe one day! We have plenty of landlords to convert in the UK first...
Q: Does Upad plan to provide any emergency repair cover in the future?
A: This is an area we’ve looked into, however we would want to be able to offer real benefits to our customers compared to other offerings already on the market.