There are many positives to renting out your property without using an estate agent. On average, DIY landlords can save hundreds, even thousands of pounds a year by not paying letting agency fees. And because they have a direct relationship with their tenants, trust builds up over time. This means the tenant often stays longer, saving the DIY landlord even more cash by cutting down on tenant turnover costs.
If you become a DIY landlord, you avoid dealing with disorganised letting agents, who will have their own financial interests at heart. Plus, you won’t have to rely on tradespeople you don’t know when something needs doing on the property.
Dispensing with the services of an agent does mean doing one or two things yourself. But they are relatively simple, have their own benefits, and will save you a lot of money. In this guide, we’ll show you how to do it.
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DIY landlords have two options when it comes to finding tenants: advertise their property themselves, or use a cost-effective advertising service like OpenRent.
OpenRent will advertise your property on Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation. These are the web portals that most tenants use to find their dream rental property. Appearing on these sites is the single most important thing you can do to find tenants.
OpenRent’s cheap advertising service ensures you have a professional ad in the right places, at the right time. It’s so good that most DIY landlords find a new tenant in under a week.
There’s no need to use an agent just so they can do the viewings. You can do it yourself, ask someone you know nearby, or use a professional viewings service.
Viewings are simple if your rental property is empty; just arrange to meet at the property at a convenient time and show the viewer around, highlighting all the positives.
If you have a tenant in the property already, you should inform them in advance each time you view it. Remember, it is still their home, so expect the property to be reasonably tidy but “lived in”. And be reasonable about when you arrange the viewings; it’s not fair on the tenant to do them at dinner time or early on a Saturday morning.
For DIY landlords who live a long way from their rental property or who have other engagements, you can ask a friend or relative to conduct a viewing on your behalf. But if there is no one you trust nearby, you can use a property viewings service. You have to pay them, but the savings versus using a letting agent can easily be over £1,000 per tenancy.
While a letting agent will advertise your property, conduct viewings, and reference check your potential tenants, the fees for doing so will run into hundreds of pounds. Agents often charge around £70-80 for referencing.
You should always order reference checks, but these do not have to cost £80. OpenRent’s tenant referencing service costs just £20 and includes credit checks, linked address and ID checks, CCJs and other court information, affordability rating, income and employment check and a previous landlord reference.
Writing a Contract
You may be tempted to dispense with the paperwork if you have a willing and friendly new tenant. But tenancy agreements are a legal necessity. They protect the tenant, and they protect you, plus it’s always best to keep your landlord/tenant relationship squeaky clean.
You don’t have to pay a solicitor to draw up a tenancy agreement for you. Search online, and you will find many templates that you can use, such as the NRLA or the Model Tenancy Agreement from the Government website.
But if you are making use of OpenRent’s advertising or referencing services, you can also invest a small amount in the company’s secure tenancy creation. It’s a best-in-class tenancy agreement, and you can even add custom clauses specific to your property.
You must decide how much money to take as a deposit for the tenancy, how much the monthly rent is, and how it should be paid. Although the vast majority of tenants are reliable, never count on anyone to send you a cheque each month or deposit funds manually into your bank account.
Instead, ask your tenant to set up a standing order so that they won’t have to actively remember to transfer the rent every month. Chasing tenants for rent is always a bit uncomfortable and awkward. If you set up your tenancy with OpenRent, you can use our rent collection service, which will remind tenants to pay in advance and automatically chase them if they fall behind.
There will always be hiccups in any tenancy. Perhaps there is a leaking water pipe, or it’s coming up to your annual gas safety check and boiler service. Letting agents seem convenient because they promise to handle these things for you, without you even having to know what they’re up to.
But in reality, agents often add to your stress, treating tenants poorly and leaving you in the dark about major issues you need to know about. Their service also comes at a cost – they pay their own favoured tradespeople to perform work and then add a premium on top for themselves. You also have to trust that the electricians, plumbers or builders they use will do a good job.
As a DIY landlord, you can avoid all of these issues. But you will need to source tradespeople and pay them directly. While this is an effort the first time – you can read our advice about where to find reliable traders – if they do a good job, you will end up using them time and again.
Balance Your Time and Costs
You can see that it’s easy enough to rent out property without an agent. DIY landlords can do everything themselves or bring in additional help from cost-effective expert services like OpenRent. Going the independent route will save a small fortune in fees that you would otherwise pay to a letting agent.
If you do “do it yourself”, you should find it relatively straightforward. For some landlords, however, there will always be a preference for an agent to do the work. They will be willing to pay a hefty premium to save their own time and perceived hassle of dealing with their tenants directly. You must balance your own time and costs accordingly.