confused landlord - The 10 step process of renting a house in the UK

 

Filled with estate agent jargon and shrouded in mystery, the process of renting your home in the UK can get a wee bit tricky. Not to worry, it’s nothing a plain speaking step-by-step guide can’t fix.

Step 1: Set your rent price

Typically sellers will get a few different estimates from different agents before settling on their rent price. Remember, just because you pick one particular agent, it doesn’t mean you have to sell at the valuation they gave you. It’s up to you what you sell for, so don’t forget who’s boss! For more on setting the right price,

Step 2: Instruct an agent

Without an agent, you can’t advertise on leading portals such as Rightmove where most tenants search. All good agents should offer a free, property valuation before you start so that they can value your home and discuss the service they offer.

Step 3: Staging your home

Before your agent comes to take all their pictures, it’s a good idea to get your property looking its best. Maximising interest from tenants online will give you the best chance of a quick rent at a good price. For more on this,

Keep it Simple

To appeal to the largest number of people possible, keep the decor understated and neutral. Cream-colored or beige furniture, linens, curtains and bedspreads are always a safe bet, although you can also evoke a mood by using certain colors in certain rooms. Bathrooms, for example, show nicely with spa-like colors like soft blues, greens and lavenders. (Imagine soft blue towels, neatly folded and stacked, next to a matching blue soap bottle and a matching toothbrush holder.)

Keep it Bright

Well-lit rooms look bigger, newer and more inviting, so let there be light whenever possible. Open up curtains and blinds to show off how much natural light each room gets, and use lamps to brighten up any dim corners.

Keep it Comfortable

Be mindful of potential buyers’ and renters’ physical comfort as they tour your property. If it’s summertime, make sure your rooms are cool. If it’s winter, keep the furnace high enough to keep out the chill and take advantage of the opportunity to show off fireplaces with a cozy fire. The more physically comfortable people are, the more likely they are to linger and take in all the great features your property has to offer.

Make it Look “Lived In”

Empty rooms don’t look more spacious; they actually look smaller because buyers have a hard time telling at a glance how much furniture the space can accommodate. They also come across as stark and uninviting. Adding a few key pieces of furniture and accessories can help people feel at home and allow them to really picture themselves living in each room.

You don’t need to fill up each room completely, just enough to create a welcoming scene. In the living room, add a couch, coffee table and some side chairs, along with accessories like an area rug (if you have hardwood floors) and complimentary curtains. In the bedroom, a bed, nightstand and dresser will do the trick. (Pro tip: Stack two mattresses on top of each other and neatly make the bed in order to avoid the hassle of moving an actual box spring into the space.)

Additional touches like fresh fruit in the kitchen and scented candles in the bathroom can up the “homey” factor. Just stay away from cheesy props like fake food and artificial flowers; people can spot them a mile away.

Highlight Each Room’s Purpose

A wasted, “catch-all” space impresses no one. If a room doesn’t have a clearly defined purpose, define one yourself based on what your target market is looking for. That spare room could become an office, extra bedroom, craft room or playroom, depending on how you stage it. Don’t force people to brainstorm ways they could use an extra space; help paint a picture for them.

If you have any odd corners or “dead spaces” in your property, you can also stage these to make them look like positive features. A random nook in the hallway could be turned into a reading area with a comfy armchair and an open book, for instance.

Know Your Market

Think about your tenants’ (specific) needs.

If you’re flipping a home in a mid-range suburb where buyers are largely families, turning that tiny spare room into a kid’s bedroom may net you great positive feedback.

If you’re renting a Class A home or luxury condo in a high-end neighborhood, turning that tiny extra bedroom into a home office or a walk-in closet complete with shelves, mirrors and a plush seating area might get you more “wow” factor than staging it as a cramped, small bedroom.

Accent Selling Points

Draw people’s eyes to the best features in your property. Painting an accent wall, placing a large plant or arranging accessories in groups of threes are all easy ways you can highlight features like fireplaces, window seats and built-in shelving.

Make Sure it “Flows”

Walk through your property as though you were touring it yourself to see if any objects interrupt the natural flow of traffic from one room to another. You may need to rearrange a piece of furniture here or there. Poor flow distracts people from your property’s great features and can also make rooms feel smaller than they really are.

Create the Illusion of Extra Space

Make ceilings look higher by hanging curtains several inches above existing window frames and letting them pool to the ground. Unite a small kitchen with the adjacent living room by using a continuous color scheme that makes them feel like one cohesive space. Be mindful of the scale of furniture in each room; a few smaller pieces can make a space look larger than one or two oversized pieces.

Make Sure to Stage Outdoor Areas, Too

Don’t forget to stage any outside areas as well. Whether you’re trying to sell a single-family home with a large backyard or a condo with a small patio, use strategically chosen plants, furniture and accessories to help people see how they can use the space to relax and unwind.

Step 4: Choose a solicitor

Legally transferring the use of the property is called tenancy agreement, and this must be done by a solicitor. You won’t actually instruct them until you have accepted an offer on your property – but you should have them ready to go for when the moment comes.

Step 5: Accept an offer

By now your advert should have been getting lots of enquiries on Rightmove & Zoopla, and people should have been coming to view your home and making offers. Once you’ve accepted an offer – you move into the “rents progression” part of the progress.

Step 6: Negotiate the tenancy agreement

You and the tenant will now have to decide and completion, what fixtures and fittings will be included in the rent (and at what price) and whether any discounts will be added.

Suppose the tenant finds damp, they may ask that you drop the price of the property by however much the work to fix the damp is estimated to cost. You don’t have to do this, of course, but it may well be a deal breaker for your tenant if you don’t. Remember, neither party are legally committed until exchange, so they could still walk away.

Step 7: Fill out the relevant questionnaires

The tenant will now need to make some enquires so they have all the information they need. Your questionnaire will revolve around the boundaries of the property, what fixtures and fittings are included in the rent, and whether you’ve had any disputes or complaints with the neighbors. The council will focus on proposed developments, building works, sewerage, utilities, council tax and things of that nature.

Step 8: Exchange tenancy agreement  

Once all the terms have been agreed, final contracts will be written up and then “exchanged”. You and the tenant are now legally committed to the rent. If you pull out now, without just cause, you can be sued and the tenant will be returned their deposit. Similarly, if the tenant pulls out – they will lose their deposit.

Step 9: Move out

Once contracts have been exchanged you only have as long as was agreed before you must vacate the property. Time to make the “I’ll buy you a takeaway if you help me move” call to assorted family and friends.

Step 10: Completion

This is when the property officially gets occupied by the tenant and you become a landlord. You will accept payment and hand over the keys.