A lot of tenants are now relying solely on the internet during their search for rental properties, so it is only fair that landlords venture online to attract new tenants.
When you take into consideration the fact that high-street letting agents charge an arm and a leg, you begin to realise how cost-effective advertising your property online can be.
Not only do the various online property platforms allow you to list your property cheaply, but some, such as property marketplace TheHouseShop.com, can also offer many products and services to landlords, such as tenant referencing, free online rental calculator and rent on time, allowing them to manage their rental property independently without using a letting agent.
Letting property online is not only cost effective but also comes free of the usual hassles that come with doing it the old fashioned way. When using an online platform, you are not directly trying to pitch a property to a tenant and you can often get new tenants quicker too. When prospective tenants find your property listing online, they'd be contacting you directly to sell themselves as 'why they are the best tenants for your property'.
So having covered the many benefits of letting your property online, we have created this useful guide to help landlords to safely and cheaply rent out their property.
The things to do when letting property online range from legal requirements, expenses and financial implications, insurance and your duty of care obligations towards your tenants. You will need to consider these factors in depth and make sure that you have planned carefully before renting out your property online.
Make sure that you have updated your insurance policy, as your current building and contents insurance won't be valid when you have tenants occupying the property. It is important that you get a public liability clause added to the insurance cover, as this can save you from expensive legal fees should you need to make a claim.
Most Buy To Let mortgage providers will require the landlord to take our specialist 'landlord insurance' even if you already have standard home insurance coverage for the property. If your don't take out landlord insurance and your mortgage provider finds out, you could end up in serious trouble that could end up in your property being reposessed!
You will also need to take into account the tax implications you will incur from the increase in your income due to the rent coming in each month. It's a good idea to meet with an independent, regulated accountant who can help you with your self-assessment tax return and that you start an accounting system to keep a note of the costs you incur over the tenancy.
The net income you receive as a landlord is subject to taxation from the government and don't forget that if you choose to sell your home after a tenancy has ended, you will also be subject to Capital Gains Tax or CGT. Seeking expert financial advice will save you making expensive mistakes, and prevent you from under or over-paying tax on your tax return. Remember that HMRC will charge you with interest if they find that you have underpaid and it can take a while for you to receive a tax refund from HMRC if you have overpaid - so it's worth taking the time to make sure you get it right first time.
When you advertise your property online yourself, the first thing you need to do is to make sure that you have calculated the rent correctly for the property. There are many tools online to guide you, such as this free online rental calculator. You should clearly state up-front any charges the tenant will incur when renting your property, this can save any awkward exchanges afterwards.
Another way to ensure you value your rental property correctly is to do a little market research and look up the prices of similar properties available on the market in your area. You can also get in touch with some local High Street letting agents and ask them to conduct a professional letting appraisal. Most letting agents will offer a free rental valuation with no olbigation to use their services once the valuation has been completed - so it's a good idea to make the most of their expert knowledge even if you plan to let your property privately.
Lastly, have you factored in the time and effort involved in becoming a landlord? Even if you choose to use a letting agent, there is still a surprising amount of administration involved when you have tenants and a second property to care for. From property visits, paperwork, sorting out disputes with the neighbours or tenants and organising repairs, this is definitely a hands on job. It is worth evaluating if you are ready for such a commitment, after all, being a landlord is often compared to running a business, so you should approach it the same way you would a new job.
Whether you are letting property online or the old fashioned way, you will need to read up on the local and national legislation in your area before your tenants move in.
It is important to keep in mind the various landlord responsibilities in place when renting out property and how they vary across the UK. Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England have differing legal obligations in place for landlords and bear in mind that they are subject to change and can vary from year to year. You will be held accountable if your property is non-compliant and there are serious consequences if you are caught out.
Depending on the area where your property is located, you might need to get a landlord's licence from your local council. While there may not be an official landlord licence scheme on a national level, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have mandatory licensing schemes in place, as well as some cities across England such as Oxford, Liverpool and Newham. It is worth finding out if there is a similar scheme on a local level first, before you find your tenants online.
Remember, as the landlord you are responsible for making sure that your property has a valid EPC, CP12 Gas Certificate and electricity safety certificate in place and you must make sure that the property gets checked by licenced professionals every year at the very least. You can find out more about electrical safety compliance for landlords here.
In order to keep on top of the legalities involved with letting property, one popular option is to employ a letting agent who can take care of this for you. However, if you would prefer to save your money and manage the property yourself, there are useful resources online that can help you keep up to date. By becoming a member of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), you will be able to access relevant information, use their resources and connect with other landlords online.
Make sure to also take a look at the Which guide to property letting.
The first step you will need to take will be to choose which website to host your property listing on and then create an account and post your advert to the site. There are many websites available in the UK for private landlords to list their properties on and many offer extra services such as tenant referencing too - so it's a good idea to shop around to find one that is right for you.
Property marketplace TheHouseShop.com, allows you to create an account for free and offers many other relevant products and services relating to letting property online, which are free and easy to use.
Read the top tips below on how you can create a successful advert to find new tenants for your rental property.
When marketing your rental property online, you are not dealing with potential tenant's face to face right in front of the property, so you need to give them visual evidence of the property and its condition. With a lot of landlords looking online for tenants, it is said that you have about three seconds to capture the attention of a prospective tenant when they are browsing online.
Remember, your goal is to make your property enticing and you want to make prospective tenants enthusiastic about living in your house. So before you arrange a photoshoot for your online listing, you will need to thoroughly spring clean and do some light DIY to spruce the property up if necessary. There are cheaper ways to get your property looking at its finest. For instance, you can patch up any places in the walls that need patching, change jammed door locks and repaint if the building’s paint is timeworn.
To really make a good impression on your prospective tenants, perhaps you can invest a bit of money on updating the property by replacing old kitchen and utility appliances if they are too old. You can even go as far as improving your property's EPC rating, by replacing a boiler, a drafty door or even insulating your roof or wall cavities. Tenants are keen on renting properties which are energy efficient as this can bring down the cost of their utilities, so it's definitely worth checking your EPC to see which rating the property currently has and whether you can invest in improving it.
Then capture pictures that highlight the appealing sides and features of your property, you may need to hire a professional photographer for this. Typical property photography packages for about ten pictures, will cost you anything between £60 and £150 depending on the photographer’s rate.
TheHouseShop, for instance, will charge you £79.99 for 10 professional photographs, but if you also order a Floor Plan from TheHouseShop, you can get both professional photography and a floor plan for just £99.99 (a Floor Plan normally costs £79.99). And a floor plan is also an essential tool when listing your property online as it can increase viewings by about 50% if you are planning to let your property online.
So, your property is spotless and your photography is perfect, now all you need to beat the competition, is to write a compelling description of the features available in your property. Make sure to include details about the furnishings, the rooms, added features and benefits, such as a roof terrace, off street parking and disabled access. You want your property to stand out from the crowd, so get creative with your description but, to keep your description authentic use your photographs as a reference point.
Feel free to add information about any facilities in the local area of your property. Is there a hospital nearby? How far away from the centre of town is the property? What are the public transport links available? Do you need a car to get out and about? Is there a nearby school?
Some property listings websites will even give you the option of adding a google map of the property location, so that prospective tenants can get a feel for the neighbourhood and see where the nearest park, town, and train station is. So if you have the chance to add this extra feature it is definitely worth considering incorporating it to your listing.
The information you include has to be concise and go a long way in ensuring that you don’t attract the wrong tenants. For instance, if you want to let your property to young families, you can cleverly highlight this in your property description. For instance, 'family sized kitchen and dining room', 'lovely family home just a 5 minutes' drive from the nearest primary school' etc.
Remember, there is nothing to gain from being dishonest, so don't get too carried away when you are writing your description as this can come back to haunt you later on and dissuade prospective tenants viewing your listing.
There are many ways to list your rental property online. The most popular ones are ‘using an online letting agent’, ‘advertising privately on property websites’, and ‘using your online presence’.
Using an online letting agent can be a swift method to draw attention to your rental property on the internet and is even more effective than using high-street agents—that’s depending on the props of the online agent you use and the services you elect.
Online agents with authority are more effective because they operate both online and offline. So when you hire them, you are paying for their online services, but it’s very likely that they will also make use of their offline networks to facilitate the process and make their money.
Most online agents can list your property on mega property websites like Rightmove, Zoopla, and hundreds of other sites where landlords are not allowed to advertise privately. Some online agents even go beyond helping you list your property and they are able to offer landlords the same services high-street letting agents offer.
An online agent should be able to list your rental property on these sites:
Online letting agents’ charges, can range from £50 pounds to £1500, depending on the agent and package that you select. A full package usually covers listing on major websites, photos and floor plans, valuation using online data, viewings arrangement, viewings conduction, price guidance, statistics report, unlimited marketing, feedback services, online accounts for landlords, and rent negotiation. If you aren't sure which online letting agent you should use, then this article on the Property Investment Project Landlord Blog gives a list of Online Letting Agents and Reviews for 2016.
TheHouseShop.com can also help you compare the best online estate agents and guide you through your options to make sure that you end up with the best possible service, at the best possible price!
It now rests on the landlord to choose the services he wants.
If you are tired of giving letting agents—whether online or offline ones—a fraction of your rental income, then there are many websites out there where you can list your property privately for free.
Here are some of the property sites that will list your rental property for free:
TheHouseShop.com offer free advertising to all private landlords and the site is becoming increasingly popular with tenants looking specifically for privately rented properties. Tenants are fed up with unreasonable letting agency fees and are now actively seeking out property to rent direct from landlords.
Private landlords can create a property advert on TheHouseShop.com in a matter of minutes using their simple advert creation system. Landlords simply fill in their details and the details of the property they are renting out, set the rental amount and deposit, write a description outlining all the key features, upload images of the property and then select any additional professional services or marketing add-ons that they need - simple as that!
If you own a website or a blog and have a good number of followers, you can list your rental property there. You can also use social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et cetera. If you already advertise on a property website, then share a link to your property’s page on your social media timeline and ask your friends to share it too.
You could join a Facebook or LinkedIn group about rental property and see if you can share your listing there as well. You could even create a Facebook group for your tenants and ask them to join and invite their friends.
There are dozens of ways to advertise your rental property on social media. You just have to discover what works for you and your network.
For even more information on letting property online, this article from The Telegraph has some great advice on using online letting sites.
If you are using an online agent to reach prospective tenants, then one way to handle enquiries and viewings is by electing the two services when signing up with an online agency. This is a good way to extricate yourself from the hassles involved when the enquiries start flowing in.
You can, on the other hand, handle the enquiries on your own. This means having your contact information on your online listings or making sure that, even if you cannot include your contact details on a listing, the agent or property websites you use direct all enquiries to you. This can either be giving the prospective tenants your contact info or vice versa.
If you want to handle viewings through an online agent, then you have nothing to worry about, except to ensure that your property is in a suitable condition and ready for the attention it’s about to get.
But if you are conducting the viewings yourself, then you will have to decide whether individual viewings are convenient for you or not—if you reside out of town, it might be difficult and expensive for you to be driving in each time you arrange a viewing.
Otherwise, block viewings might be better, not just for the fact that it saves you time, but also because it forces the prospective tenants into a competition. Thus you get a wide pool of potential tenants to choose from, and you get to consider referencing factors like jobs, incomes, credit history, et cetera when making your choice, without dreading that they could all disappear on you. In fact, a block viewing is not just an effective way of selecting the suitable tenant for your property, but also a good rent negotiation strategy that will get desperate prospective tenants upping their offers in a battle to secure a home.
Getting your property listed simultaneously on many property websites is a viable way to garner clustered enquiries and thus arrange a block viewing.
Once you have met the tenants and shown them around, every other process involved in letting your property mostly happens offline.