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Guide to letting

Considering letting a property out? The process can be a complex and time consuming one, but the rewards can be considerable when you get the right guidance.

Preparing to let a property

For most of us, our property is the most valuable asset we will ever own and therefore finding an agent that you trust to look after it is probably the most important decision you make.

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Looking after you

Outstanding approach

We understand that landlords want to find a great tenant quickly, who looks after their property, stays for a long period of time and always pays the rent on time. Through working smarter and harder, we aim to make this a reality.

To this end, our landlords each get a dedicated Property Manager as standard, so you know your team has an in-depth knowledge of your property – as well as the local property market.

Choosing an agent

Outstanding approach

After making the big decision  to let a property, you’ll need to select an agent. We think there are four key areas to consider and why we stand out in them:

Customer service

Great customer service should come as standard. The Staffordshire Knot Estate Agents team sees this as having your best interests at heart, forming long-term, successful relationships and having the drive to find the right tenant for your property. Remember, it’s not just about what we do when everything is going well – it’s also about how we’ll support if anything goes wrong.

Market leading

It’s important for landlords that your property is marketed effectively, to minimise void periods and keep costs down. To find out who’s on top of the market, check Google search, Rightmove and Zoopla which is where reportedly where over 90% of all property finds happen!

Price

True value is about getting the quality service you need for a price you’re happy to pay, however our landlord fees are incredibly competitive as well as transparent. We’re proud to publish all of our fees here, and the vast majority of our partners believe they get market leading service for a market leading price.

Social purpose

Like other estate agents we compete in the market by pursuing and making a profit. Our founder though is never consumed by the motive of personal gain and doesn’t want to be forced into serving the interests of external shareholders either. We continually reinvest the majority of our profits directly into the Staffordshire community and causes that mean so much to our clients. So by using us, you are directly financially supporting a local charity of your choice.

Get an accurate valuation

Outstanding approach

Getting an accurate valuation is vital as it helps to drive the marketing, but a market appraisal should be so much more than just receiving a rental value for your property.

To ensure we get this right, we complete your market appraisal and advise you on all aspects of letting, to maximise your rent and reduce your costs. This includes the finer details such as decor, white goods, furnishing options, safety information and legal obligations. Our aim is to help your property achieve its top rent and appeal to the widest audience possible, enabling you to have the pick of the best tenants.

We also help prospective landlords find the best investment property by advising on the best areas and property types to maximise their return. This includes accompanied viewings, if needed.

The next step is to understand your needs. It is crucial we fully understand your situation and what you are looking to achieve from letting your property. First time landlords will often have different needs than seasoned experts and your lifestyle or reason for letting will often drive your service requirements.

Service levels

Outstanding approach

Next up you’ll need to consider how much involvement you want to have with your property and your future tenants. There are two key service levels:

Fully managed service

Our fully managed service leaves you safe in the knowledge that everything is taken care of by your dedicated Property Manager, who is completely up to date with the intricacies of letting legislation.

The service deals with all the little details, including efficient rent collection, inspections and deposit negotiations. Our comprehensive photographic inventory, annual rent reviews and experience managing tenants are second to none.

Even landlords who have previously managed their own properties have been converted to the service, since it removes any stress and allows them to get on with their own busy lives.

Let only

If you feel comfortable drawing up your own inventory, collecting the rent and managing the tenancy, our let only service may be perfect for you.

This gives you freedom to manage the property in your own way, while benefiting from the high profile exposure only available through a reputable agent.

We’ll find, verify and reference your next tenant and you can be safe in the knowledge that both parties will be fully protected by the terms of our comprehensive tenancy agreement. On check in day, you can greet your new tenant warmly into their new home, confident that the finer details have been sorted, the tenancy agreement has been emailed to you and the first month’s rent is being transferred to your designated account. 

Get your property on the market

Outstanding approach

Nowadays, Rightmove and Zoopla should be used as standard, however this isn’t enough. To get the pick of the best tenants, you need to market your property to the widest possible audience. We place properties on all major property websites, along with our own.

To maximise your exposure and get your property seen, we rank highly for Google searches. This is crucial for success and with Google owning 78% of the search engine market, we can make sure everyone is seeing your property. But we do even more than this.

Effective use of social media and our effort to keep in direct contact with our database of prospective tenants, using email, post, telephone and text mean that we cover all methods of communication.

Having close relationships with large local businesses is important to us too. We help companies find their employees corporate relocations, which means we always have great people looking for available property.

Marketing your property with us will not only be more effective, get quicker results, and save you a lot of time and money. It will also mean that you will get best tenant that is going to look after the property, stay for a longer and pay the rent on time.

Managing viewings

Outstanding approach

All the best marketing in the world is worthless if you can’t get prospective tenants through the door of your property. 

With almost half of applicants only available during the evenings or weekends, a lot of landlords miss out on viewings because this is outside their agents’ working hours. To make sure you don’t miss out, we focus our energy on weekend and evening viewings. We accompany all viewings so our landlords don’t have to.

Our viewing team is friendly, experienced and trained in showing property in its best light. They have a great local Staffordshire knowledge about schools, local conveniences and even what the traffic is like, as well as the property itself. It’s really important to us that the property is a great match for the tenant as this tends to mean that the tenant stays longer.

We ensure that we stay connected and your designated property manager will give you regular updates on the progress of the marketing. We will give you honest feedback so that you know what people are thinking about your property and if there is any action needed.

Tennant application

Outstanding approach

Our application process is very different from the rest of the Staffordshire letting market. Firstly your property manager personally checks each tenant’s eligibility and affordability and makes sure they are suitable for the property. They also walk through the application process with the applicant and vets them in the process.

Before we progress any further we make sure that the prospective tenant has reviewed and is happy with all the tenancy details, the tenancy agreement, deposit information, payment schedule and insurance documents. Only then will we proceed and take any money, so that there are no surprises.

We aim to have the credit checks completed and all tenancy particulars agreed on day one of the application and the tenancy pack completed and back within 3 working days.

In this way we are able to:
– remove any unsuitable tenants from the application at an early stage through our vetting process
– give confidence to the tenant and the landlord that the tenancy is going to progress successfully
– ensure fewer applications fall through at later stages, saving you money and keeping your void period down
– be upfront and clear with all our tenants from the outset, which enables us to have a great relationship and means that our tenants have greater trust in us throughout their tenancy

Deposit registration

Outstanding approach

Deposit management can be a complicated and time consuming topic, which is why we are members of the Deposit Protection Service (DPS). Therefore, our Property Managers are fully qualified and experienced in dealing with deposits and keeping up to date with the ever changing regulations and legislations.

Anyone registering a deposit with the DPS must ensure that it is registered within ten days of receipt of the deposit and that they provide the tenant with prescribed information and the DPS leaflet.

It’s important to get this right, as failure to do this can result in serious consequences with heavy fines, not being able to claim any deductions from the deposit at the end of the tenancy as well as any legal eviction notices being unenforceable.

Inventory check-in

Outstanding approach

This is a fully managed service where a picture really does paint a thousand words, which is why we use a comprehensive photographic inventory to keep you protected.

Your Property Manager personally visits your property before your tenant moves in to complete final checks whilst preparing the photo inventory using our in-house developed software, to make sure we capture all the important details for your protection, as well as taking the utility readings (gas and electric).

Our Property Managers complete the inventory for consistency to enable them to be prepared to deal with any issues that may arise throughout the tenancy or at check out.

Check-in your tenant

Outstanding approach

We know that on check in day that the tenant’s priority is getting moved in, they do not want us getting in the way. So as long as all funds are paid, references are received and the inventory is signed off, we send all the information they need (like access codes and key release information) by email as well as SMS.

The tenant can come in and collect the keys any time of day putting them in control of their moving day and reducing stress.

Your Property Manager will text your tenant on their move in day to offer support and encourage them to get in touch if they have any questions.

Rent payments

Outstanding approach

This is another fully managed service and we know what you are thinking that rent payments are one of, if not the most important aspects of letting, as most landlords have mortgages or financial commitments. That is why we work so hard ensuring that our landlords receive their rent on time. In fact we very rarely come across any serious issues and 99.5% of all our rent is paid to our landlords on time. This is all down to time-tested processes:

Application process

Any agent can find a tenant. We want only the best and as such we have a tight financial criteria. If the tenant does not have a good credit file then we will insist on the rent being made in advance or a guarantor, or both.

Great customer service

Looking after the tenant means that we simply get fewer issues. Our Property Managers have an excellent working relationship with our tenants, ensuring that any problems are reported and resolved quickly.

Experienced property managers

Our Property Managers are experienced at chasing rent and understand how important it is to our landlords, so they never delay. If the rent is late then they will start chasing it from day one and use a number of methods for ensuring success. They are extremely proud of their 99.5% payment record!

Payment dates

To avoid any complications for you that may occur from late payments, we pay the rent to you at the end of the month. This gives us time to chase the payment and gives you the confidence that your payment will arrive on time even if the tenant is late. If there are any concerns or a payment is going to be late we will let you know a week beforehand so that you have time to make the necessary arrangements. We also email you a reminder around the 20th of the month to check your online statement giving you time to ask any questions or rectify any issues.

To fully support our landlords on the very rare occasion that there is a major problem, all of our tenancies start with a rent guarantee policy which means that not only will the rent still get paid, but the cost of the legal work, which runs into £1000’s is also covered.

Landlord login

Outstanding approach

One of the earliest requests we had from our landlords was for an online log in function enabling you to:
– Update your address, contact or bank details in your own time
– Review service details and look at any maintenance that has been reported
– Review and download a copy of your monthly statement

We believe that this system is the best in the marketplace and is offered to all our landlords as part of our standard service. We’re always looking to bring you new features to make life easier, so if there is something you think we’re not doing, let us know, because we really do want to know.

Property inspections

Outstanding approach

Inspections are another very important aspect of managing a property. Most tenants look after their homes extremely well, however when circumstances change, they change quickly and this could be costly for you. So therefore we inspect all of our properties at least twice a year. This enables us to:
– Catch up with our tenants and make sure they are happy, because happy tenants stay for longer and this maximises your return
– Check the property condition and any maintenance that has been done
– Give our landlords the reassurance that their property is being looked after

Your Property Manager will also call and email you after the inspection to let you know that everything is fine, or what we are doing to manage anything that does come up.

Ongoing maintenance

Outstanding approach

There is never a convenient or ideal time for property appliances to breakdown or toilets, taps and showers to stop working. Maintenance is a normal part of renting out your property, however where we look after the maintenance, we promise to get issues fixed quickly at the best value.

Just under 50% of issues are resolved over the phone without the need for an engineer, which means they are sorted straight away without cost. We take the time to troubleshoot the problem with the tenant and give advice on how to fix it there and then.

90% of issues can be fixed by our preferred contractors in the first visit and usually for less than £100. By making sure they don’t have to quote or make two trips to the property, we get preferential rates enabling us to offer better value for money. We manage the small things and keep you in the loop by email, but will be in touch to walk through the bigger, important issues so you’re still in control.

It’s important to us to know how our contractors have performed. Were they punctual, professional and tidy? Nobody knows this better than the tenant, which is why we send out a feedback survey on every job, so they can tell us how good the contractors really are and this is used for our annual contractor review.

We have a manned out of hours number for emergencies, just in case. This is strictly for situations like flooding, when the property is in serious danger of being damaged. We don’t believe in getting contractors out at weekends or at night unless absolutely necessary. In our experience this can be extremely costly and in most circumstances, can’t fix the issue there and then anyway.

Tenancy renewal

Outstanding approach

There should be no need for your life to stop just because your tenancy is due for renewal. Most tenants renew their tenancies, so your Property Manager will call and email you when it is due, to give you an opportunity to let us know if your needs have changed. Otherwise we will get on with reviewing the rent in line with the market to maximise your return and arranging the renewal.

We will ask the tenant 12 weeks before the end of tenancy date if they are looking to renew. Although this seems like a long time, it is enough time to issue and receive back the tenancy renewal pack or allow us to serve all the required legal notice paperwork. This also gives us two months to market your property and keep your void period to a minimum. This tried and tested method is perfect for making sure you get maximum flexibility and maximum protection.

Letting and estate agents that breaks with convention

A fresh, innovative and bespoke approach to property across Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Staffordshire Moorlands; backed up by a real local social purpose.

Property management

We break with convention

The very best calibre private tenants expect 24/7 service when they rent a property.

As an experienced or budding private Landlord it can be difficult to live up to this standard, but across Stoke on Trent, Newcastle under Lyme and the Staffordshire Moorlands we can help. Where we are appointed to manage your property we will ensure that both your tenants and property receive the essential professional care required.

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