To describe this job in a single phrase, it would have to be 'never a dull moment'. Aside from opening the office, making a coffee and checking new messages, no two days are ever the same.
Meeting new people and being out in the neighbourhood are two of our favourite things, but the icing on the cake is handing over the keys on moving day. It's such a moment of joy for everyone – the landlord, the tenants, us – as a whole new chapter begins.
The lettings world moves much faster than sales, but agents have far more paperwork and responsibility. With no solicitors checking contracts, it's down to us to get everything right, and all while keeping up the pace.
There's a lot more happening than showing people around beautiful homes, so join us for a glimpse behind the scenes to see how it all comes together.
VALUATIONS & NEW LISTINGS
A big part of our week is meeting new landlords. Seeing new properties is one of the job's best qualities, and getting them ready for the market is even more exciting.
Lettings used to be a complete free-for-all with multiple agencies instructed on every home, but more and more landlords want to work with a single agent they can trust. We need to fill them with confidence to win the business!
Taking along examples of other homes we've let and manage nearby shows landlords that we get results and that our advice makes sense, so a lot of time goes into preparing for every appointment.
While we're on a valuation, we always look for ways to improve a property to achieve the highest rent and the best tenants. We've built up a fantastic list of local contractors over the years, and it's really rewarding to see our recommendations come to life while managing the projects.
Once we've got a landlord's go-ahead and the keys, speed is of the essence. We don't wait until the photos and description are uploaded to the portals; we get straight on to our list of potential tenants to start booking in viewings.
It's all about minimising void periods and keeping our clients' income flowing.
ENQUIRIES, VIEWINGS & OFFERS
There are numerous new enquiries every day, either by phone or email, but not every viewing request is a good fit. Before we take anyone to see a property, we make some basic checks with every potential tenant to avoid booking wasted appointments. These include:
● ensuring the property matches what they're looking for
● confirming their timescale around a moving date
● clarifying their budget
● checking their employment status
● asking how long they're looking to stay somewhere
There can be a lot of coordination in getting everyone who intends to live at a property to come on the viewing. The lettings business is very fast-paced, and if someone is missing from the first appointment, their housemates may not get the chance of a second look.
Offers are always good news, but before recommending them to a landlord, it's good practice to double-check the facts to ensure the tenants are suitable. That means getting all the details confirmed in writing by email, so nothing gets forgotten or assumed.
Although we all have our individual roles, everything anyone does affects the whole team, so constant communication is crucial.
As well as updating each other immediately on all the new listings and offers agreed, we get together at least once a week to discuss all the goings-on:
· feedback from viewings to keep landlords informed
· upcoming moving-in days
· notices given by tenants or served by landlords
· potential and actual disputes
· maintenance issues and recommended works or improvements
· changes in legislation and latest lettings news
Together with everyone working here, our landlords are also part of the team. We're all working towards the same goal, and keeping in touch with them every week ensures they feel connected and valued.
We always aim to get in a drink at the end of the week to celebrate the wins!
There's a lot of paperwork involved in lettings, and there's no room for error: it's absolutely vital to make time in our week to keep up with the latest news and changes in the law.
Most tenancies end amicably, but plenty of landlords come unstuck through an understandable lack of knowledge around the ever-changing legislation.
Each tenancy needs to start on a solid footing, so every application goes through the following process:
● detailed application forms
● employment and landlord references
● credit status check
● proof of identity
● signed tenancy agreement
● payment of first month's rent
● completed standing order mandate
● comprehensive inventory signed by the tenants
● security deposit paid, registered and protected
Any amendments during a tenancy also need to be handled correctly. From a change of tenants in a shared house to formal renewals and serving notices, everything needs to happen in the correct order, with accurate wording and at the right time.
INSPECTIONS, MAINTENANCE & EMERGENCIES
As well as viewings and valuations, our diary has a lot more going on. Every rental property needs looking after because they only ever get older, which means regular check-ups, conscientious management and a hint of diplomacy.
Visiting a property every six months during a tenancy helps us spot and rectify any potential problems early on. It's also an opportunity to catch up with the tenants, ask how they're enjoying their home and see if they're planning to stay or move out. This helps us to schedule any future works and keep the property in mind in case a potential new tenant gets in touch.
As well as general upkeep and repairs, we need to keep an eye on legal compliance (400 pieces of legislation and counting!) In particular, valid certificates for gas safety, electrical installations and energy performance are essential to ensure every property complies with the law, so these all go in the calendar in good time for their renewal.
Fortunately, emergencies are few and far between when properties are managed correctly. But whenever the unexpected does happen – rarely at a convenient moment! – it can be an
extremely fine line between a genuine emergency and an urgent repair. We need to balance that with keeping tenants assured that we're on the case, and landlords confident that we're managing their investment correctly. Not always easy!
Would you like to meet?
Now you know all about us, we'd love to know more about you. It's always a highlight to meet new landlords and help them get their buy-to-lets working harder and smarter: after all, that's the whole idea!
If you own a rental property in Southampton and you'd like to know if it could perform any better, why not get in touch? Call us on 02380 987610 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for some friendly and expert advice that could seriously improve the value and yield of your investment.