Present your property

If the property is clean, well decorated and maintained, with modern fitted bathrooms and kitchens and a decent heating system installed, you should let the property quicker and achieve a higher rent with decent tenants who are more likely to look after your investment. The problem from the landlords' point of view is that such repairs are not tax deductible if carried out prior to the property being let, but would be deductible if they occur during the course of a tenancy. However, from a business point of view a poorly maintained property tends to attract poor tenants who do not look after it, causing further deterioration.

Is the property in a good state of decoration and repair? If not, serious thought should be given to redecorate the property, preferably with neutral carpets and colours i.e. magnolia painted walls/paper, ceilings and all woodwork white. This enables most tenants' furniture to blend in and is easy to maintain having only 2 colours throughout the property.

The equipment should be adequate for the type of property and rental level desired. This may range from a cooker, fridge, and perhaps a washing machine (although we have found that washing machines give the most trouble). All appliances should be modern, in working order and, if possible, covered by a maintenance agreement. Instruction books should be provided for all appliances. Even if the property is to be let unfurnished tenants will expect kitchen appliances to be provided, the range depending on the rental price.

Reception Rooms
Upholstered furniture e.g. sofas, chairs etc., should be provided which comply with the 'ignitable test' of current government safety regulations. Furnished properties should also have a dining table and chairs. Other furniture would depend on the level of rent sought. All reception rooms, whether the property is let furnished or unfurnished, should have carpets and curtains, the quality being suitable for the rental price.

Bathroom Sanitary
equipment should be modern, clean and in good order. Replace seals around bath's, basins and showers and if they are defective or discoloured, replace them prior to the tenancy commencing. Many tenants like to take a shower and this may be an item you should consider installing.

All bedrooms should be fresh and neutral if possible. If 'blu-tac', cellotape or any substance marks the walls, the room should be redecorated. If the wallpaper is a children's or nursery pattern, it should be changed prior to the letting to give a wider appeal.

Even if the property is unfurnished all rooms must have carpets and curtains. The quality is important especially if the landlord hopes to attract a good tenant. If the carpets and curtains are poor, the property will not let easily. Kitchen appliances must be supplied in line with the type of rental required. The basic would be a cooker and fridge, but better quality properties may have freezers, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers. All equipment should be modern and in full working order.

Security Security has become a priority to many tenants, especially vulnerable groups such as woman living alone and female sharers. Window locks should be fitted to downstairs windows and keys left at the property. Front and back door should be secure, well fitted and freshly painted - especially important for a front door, as this will form part of the initial impression made on the tenant. Secure locks should be fitted at the property preferably one from a registered locksmith that cannot be copied. If there is a security alarm, it should be operational, well maintained and, by law, must have a twenty-minute cut-out for the bell or siren.

General If the property is a flat in a block or conversion, the landlord should ensure the communal parts are clean, dusted and free of junk mail, general rubbish, bicycles etc., The communal parts are the first and last things the tenant sees - forming a lasting impression. A house should have a neat well-maintained garden and be reasonably well painted. Again first impressions count All properties should be clean, including the windows, adequately carpeted and curtained and, if possible, all items that are not included in the tenancy removed before a tenant views the property. The tenant needs to envisage himself living in the property - this is impossible if the furniture is to be changed.