Practice makes perfect

Tue 26 Feb 2013

"Taking responsibility and communication" are key to the success of a professional lettings agent says Susan Fitz-Gibbon. She continues "The importance of the Private Rented Sector to the UK property market cannot be underestimated. I work with the senior management team at ARLA to ensure we continue to effectively represent our member base whilst driving up professional standards within the lettings industry.

"There is absolutely no excuse these days for those agents involved in residential lettings to get the fundamentals wrong" say Susan. "Investment is crucial too. Investment in staff training, in awareness and investment in systems."

ARLA being the principle regulatory body for the lettings industry operates a strict code of conduct for its members and is not shy about taking to task members who do not adhere to those policies in place to protect the public. One development of ARLA in West London was the birth of ARLA 24. Here, members from Chiswick, Hammersmith, Ealing along with Kew, Richmond and Twickenham meet regularly to hear from industry experts, gain legal updates, network and receive professional development training. The region, establish by Susan, is one of the most successful in the UK with attendance increasing at every meeting at all levels from trainees to Direct level.

With research revealing the average void period for a UK rental property standing at three weeks, ARLA suggest the following simple steps landlords can take to reduce the chance of property being untenanted for extended periods:

Set realistic rents
While rental properties are in high demand in many parts of the UK, this should not be taken as a guarantee of back-to-back tenancies. Remember that the overall cost of an extended void period can outweigh the perceived loss associated with setting a sensible rent, which may also make the property quicker to let.

Foster good tenant-landlord relations
A tenant's right to reside, undisturbed, within a property during their tenancy period is enshrined in law. By upholding basic obligations, landlords have a greater chance of establishing a good relationship with tenants, and they may be more likely to stay in the property longer.

Make the property desirable
Ensuring the property is in good order could help make it more desirable, meaning it will be easier to let and may even mean tenants have a duty to look after internal fixtures, landlords are generally responsible for the repairs, unless the damage is caused by the tenant. But further decorating and furnishing the property appropriately, and to a good standard, may help it stand out to potential tenants.

See a void as an opportunity
While it is important for landlords to keep up to date with necessary repairs, a void period could provide a good time for non-essential, intrusive maintenance and improvement works to be carried out, with minimum disruption to tenants. This could, in turn, make the property more attractive.

Hire a letting agent
A good letting agent can help guide you through the day-to-day complexities of being a landlord, meaning you will have less work to do when a tenancy comes to an end. For peace of mind, seek advice from a lettings agent affiliated to a professional organisation like ARLA.

You can contact Susan Fitz-Gibbon on 020 8892 8921.