“How much can I let my flat for?” We are asked this question every day and, although there is not always a definitive answer, there are vital clues which homeowners ignore at their peril.
So here, for those thinking of letting their property in 2018, are our top tips on what we take into consideration when working out rents and how to maximise rental income.
1.“Don’t just go with the agent who puts the highest valuation on your property, says Sarah Bikhit, Lettings Manager at Kay & Co. “That is often the road to disappointment. The key is to get an honest, accurate valuation from the outset.”
2. The common parts of an apartment block are almost as important as the interiors of the flats themselves. You will not command the best rents on a property, however immaculate, if the common parts look tired or scruffy. The look and condition of the communal areas impact hugely on the value of the property, too.
3. Use a lettings agent with extensive knowledge of the local rental market. “We carry out detailed analysis of what price properties have let for in the past, and the difference in price they achieve in certain months of the year, then produce rigorous valuation reports for our clients,” adds Sarah.
4. Location, as always, is key. Identical properties on two different streets will command different rental values if one street is more sought after than the other.
5. Remember that the condition of a property is vital in lettings. Someone buying a property can easily renovate it to their liking. Tenants have much less latitude – so they will expect the property to be in good condition already, otherwise they will select a property that has already been refurbished.
6. Be prepared to let your property furnished or unfurnished, if you are in a position to do so. That flexibility will be a trump card in your favour, as you will effectively be targeting two different markets and you are likely to let your property faster.
7. If a building is run by a managing agent, make sure to establish good lines of communication with them, so that the maintenance of the common parts remains high on their list of priorities.
8. Remember that most tenants in central London expect super-modern kitchens and bathrooms. Be prepared to spend money upgrading your property to keep up with the market.
9. If you own a house, then you want people to visualise living there: paint the front door, add plants pots outside or add new door furniture to give the right impression.
10. “Listen to the information that the agent is presenting. If you are unsure - ask the agent more questions,” explains Sarah. “A good agent will be able back up their market valuation with their research. Price it too high and the property will just sit on the market. The key is an accurate valuation from the start and the killer blow to any rental investment are those void periods when the flat sits empty and costs you money.”
Central London has a strong rental sector, offering healthy returns. But remember, ask your agent some well-thought out questions to ensure the rental valuation is accurate in the first place.
• Contact Kay & Co estate agents for details of properties to rent or for sale in Marylebone, Bayswater, Paddington, Notting Hill, Mayfair, Hyde Park, Fitzrovia, Regents Park, King’s Cross and The West End (020 7262 2030; Kay & Co).