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DIY deposits and agreements - good or bad?


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Good evening folks, I have another question for those with experience:

We've finally finished refurbishing a 50's council house to an excellent standard and the idea is to let it out on a long term basis.

It's in a small town and everyone knows everyone and we have had about 3 or 4 people approach us wanting to rent it. Now, we (or people we know) know the prospective future tenants well enough to not get worried about references etc. So, as I understand it we need some sort of paperwork for signatures and a bona-fide deposit scheme.

Can we do this ourselves or would it be wise to get an agent on the job - it's just the ever present legal gumphh that I get wary of....

Kind regards Julian.

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If you are going to do it yourself you'll need to know what you are doing. Here's a short list of stuff you'll need to deal with....

Tenancy Agreement (AST).

Extra clauses.

Inventory & Schedule of Condition.

Deposit protection & prescribed information.

Rent guarantee insurance / guarantor.

Electrical safety.

Gas safety certificate.

Legionella risk assessment.

Energy Performance Certificate.

Etc etc

There are lots of good books available on this subject. Don't assume it's easy. Might be better to use a lettings agent for the first let whilst you are learning. Pick an agent by recommendation, there are lots of bad ones out there.

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Everything that Richlist has stated plus being a small town or not you must treat this as a business venture and do not get talked into renting to someone because "they are a friend or family."

You will be relying on this rental income so be very choosy who passes through your selection procedure for a tenancy. If you can avoid DSS it will be a bonus for you.

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The ideal tenants are 2 working persons who can be referenced and credit checked with no kids and a quiet lifestyle - they are the ones you want. Every landlord wants a long term let but you need to be realistic and see what happens.

DSS tenants are invariably home all day - that makes for extra wear and tear on the house and they often attract similar to them making more wear and tear.

Often (not always) people who approach you to let to a niece, son or whatever are doing so because that relative will not pass credit checks with agents - be aware.

As said above - it is a business so make sharp, business like decisions without emotions.

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Thanks, some of the items of Richlist's list have been taken care of one way or another, but nevertheless I think I may well ask an agent to do the work. There's only two in town - both of which are known to us. I wonder what I should expect to pay for the work? For the apartments I have in another part of the country agents normally ask for a month's rental by way of payment, but as we have potentially found a tenant then they won't have to conduct viewings or do marketing.


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Finding a tenant, any tenant, is not usually difficult but finding one with good references, who passes the criteria for rent guarantee insurance or who can produce a home owning guarantor can be. Proceed without them at increased risk.

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As with all things it is a balance. A GOOD professional letting agent will save you money and balance out your inexperience. This may well change in time so is worth reviewing as you understand the process better. On the flip side a poor letting agent may well also take your money and make you poorer in more ways than one. We've chosen to learn along the way and do it ourselves, I work full time and do all the admin, husband is a stay-at-home-dad / carer for his mother in law (i.e. my mum!) who can juggle things sufficiently to be around enough to do minor repairs himself and arrange the experts for electrics etc. Managing it ourselves has involved a LOT of reading up, a lot of dealing with difficult situations and spending nights researching scenarios and drawing up paperwork at short notice whilst doing a full time job. However I have preferred doing it that way as that way I learn and that way I know I am at least trying to have my best interests at the centre of everything I do, even if I mess up every so often. We have three properties that are nearby. Being within a few miles of where we live makes this practical. I have successfully won in court a s.8 notice and had the kind comments of the officiating officer say that my submission was one of the best she had seen, we were granted immediate possession (in practice five weeks after you allow for court paperwork delays and back logs of bailiffs). I've just submitted a DPS ADR and have no clue as to whether we will be successful or not but I have no reason to believe a LA would have done any better.

We will not do business with anyone we know closely, too much opportunity for misunderstanding or expectation of favours. We keep everything on a business level. We are in a London suburb that has a community feel and so I can appreciate the temptation to do business with those you know. A number of times friends had recommended a friend to us about renting, only for them to either not 'show' at the viewing or to be blatantly expecting a massive discount which we can't justify. Everyone is treated the same, all the same checks, the same courtesies etc.

We have a good list of tradespeople so getting gas certs, electrical certs, emergency repairs etc is not difficult. The DPS isn't too clear a path to tread it isn't obvious you have to issue the 'prescribed information' and they don't remind you clearly enough - but a bit of reading up and it is blatantly obvious what you need to do and then when the original tenancy expires and becomes periodic. However if you are very very time poor, your properties are a good distance away, or you are of a nervous disposition then self-management may not be for you and an LA is the right path.

Openrent is a great way of finding tenants by the way. Free first advert and £29 per advert thereafter (going on Rightmove, Zoopla, Gumtree etc) . I could try and get a free advert by putting my landlord number down here and asking you to quote it if you ever use them but I think they are so great I would rather part with my money and someone know how good they are and not think I am only promoting them to get a free advert myself.

Good luck

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