Over the past few years many people have been moving into the buy-to- let market sector, and this is generally a world-wide trend as people look to add to their pension provisions etc. This means that there is a lot more choice for people wishing to rent and this has meant that the standard of rental accommodation has risen accordingly.
Many investors have purchased brand new purpose built properties that have an advantage over older properties in that they require no modernisation. If you have an older property which you wish to rent (by older, the rule of thumb is a property over 12 years old!), you should consider replacing the kitchen, bathroom and generally updating the property completely.
The quality of the interior decoration may substantially affect the level of rental you can achieve. If you are letting out your own personal home whilst going abroad, for example, you may not be able to completely redecorate, but it is vital that you follow these guidelines if you are to secure a decent rent for your property – and more important still if you are to be a returning owner occupier. Just a word of advice in this situation: do remove all personal and sentimental items from your property and store these securely. Sadly, accidental damage can occur and you would not wish to return to find that any of your prize possessions are broken or damaged.
In general terms, carpets and walls should be neutral: whites, creams and pastel shades make for a cleaner, fresher impression. Paint finishes are much easier to maintain than wallpaper. Good quality curtains and carpets should be provided because they have a much longer life expectancy than cheaper quality – and this is important if your plans are to let for several years. That good old standby – Magnolia – is now so old fashioned it is matched only by wood-chip and flock wallpaper. In simple terms – don't do it!
Kitchens should be well equipped with ovens, hob and all electrical items of a good standard; bathrooms need to have high quality modern fittings. Installing a power shower is a good move (and if you are intending to let to the holiday or commercial market, overseas visitors will expect a power shower). Include good lighting and quality, tiled flooring. If you are refitting your bathroom bear in mind that white fittings never go out of fashion and you can change the mood and the look of the room by changing the colour of towels, etc. Don't forget to include towel rails and shelves or cupboards also.
Lighting is very important for any building – and more so for any rental property. Down-light spotlights in the kitchen, bathrooms and other areas help create a cared for look. In furnished properties it is worth providing some table lamps so that the tenants can create their own ambience. Don't forget outside lighting either – a system with sensors will also help protect the property.
Make sure there are sufficient TV and telephone sockets around the property. You may also wish to consider installing cable or satellite media systems.
Once you have completed your decor, you can then start to show people around the property. If you are doing this yourself, here are a few tips to follow:
> Make sure the property is clean – no dirty washing up left around and make sure the property smells fresh and clean. Open some windows and let in some fresh air.
> Although you may be concerned for your carpets, remember that some prospective tenants may not wish to remove their shoes. Don't make an issue of this, a gentle request is all you can make.
> The property needs to look bright. Lights make a property welcoming – and a cloudy day can make a room look gloomy, so add light wherever possible. If you are showing someone around in the evening, put on as many lights as required – and remember to turn on the front door outside light.
> If the curtains are pulled across during the day, make sure they are open for the viewing. Natural light will give the property an airy feel, and can make rooms look so much bigger. Don't be afraid to top up the natural light with artificial as required.
> The garden area needs to be clean and tidy.
> Agree the type of rental you are offering:
Unfurnished: let with curtains, carpets and kitchen equipment (white goods)
Part Furnished: let with all of the above plus some furniture such as some beds, settee or dining table and chairs, etc
Fully Furnished: let with the above but also including all furniture, china, crockery and glass etc. Include the necessary furniture but don't give the impression of it being stuffed with furniture, clutter will make the property appear small.Some properties are more suitable for letting than others. These tend to be those that are:
> Close to good road and rail connections
> Well maintained externally with a neat garden (if applicable)
> Priced with a rental price suitable for the market area
> Providing parking with the property (or very close by)
> Not bound by too many landlord restrictions
So, if you follow these simply (but amazingly often overlooked!) guidelines, you should soon be welcoming tenants into your property. It is worth remembering that you will have invested much in the way of thought, time, effort and money into this project. Don't fall at the final stage by missing one of the most important early stage steps of buying-to-let – your insurance. Go to a professional company who understand that buy-to-let requires a very different policy to normal household and contents insurance. Seek advice and make sure you protect your investment right from the start.