Surprisingly Useful:

A Guide To Doing Your Own Viewings For Landlords

June 24, 2020

If you’ve moved home in the past, you’ll be familiar with what happens when prospective buyers visit your home. You get the casual visitors and the serious prospects. Eventually someone makes an offer. When the process is complete, the new owners take the keys and the property is no longer yours. In many ways, holding viewings as a private landlord is no different, except there is more at stake. For a start, the property will remain yours, so you want to be sure the new tenant will protect your assets. It’s also an important source of income so you need to be confident that your tenant is going to be a good payer.

Tenant credit checks and referencing go part of the way, but a face-to-face meeting can be reassuring, giving you the opportunity to make character judgements. For those reasons, some landlords like to handle viewings themselves, rather than giving the task to an agent. Meeting prospective tenants helps to build a direct relationship from the outset and could prove useful if queries or problems arise on either side. While the viewing process is similar for selling or letting a property, there are a number of good practices that you should follow to ensure a successful outcome.

Landlord viewings: Careful preparation

You want to impress the right tenants so make sure the property is clean and tidy for the time of viewing. You will have to allocate time before the viewing to do any necessary work so plan your appointments carefully to avoid a rush. Ideally, arrange appointments during daylight so the property looks inviting, particularly if the property has a garden. If the property requires remedial work before letting, such as redecorating or maintenance work, allow sufficient time for the work to be completed before viewing.

New paint may look attractive, but the smell could be off-putting during a viewing. If you have gas or electrical appliances, make sure any safety checks and certificates are up to date. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms also require regular testing.

Pre-screening tenants

Pre-screening tenants with selected questions can help you avoid wasted viewings or spending time and money on obtaining references. Depending on the type of property you are letting, ask questions about the planned length of tenancy, how many people will be moving in and requirements for parking, pets or a garden.

You should also ask general questions about their employment and financial status, planned method of payment and references. While those questions should not replace proper checks, they can help you decide whether the person enquiring is a suitable and serious prospect.

Meeting tenants

The advice from experienced agents is that you should not meet prospective tenants alone. This is partly for personal security, but it can also be useful to have a second opinion on the prospect. A face-to-face meeting gives both parties the opportunity to ask questions, so it’s best to come prepared with some local knowledge about schools, shops, bus and train services and medical facilities. Your tenant will also want to know about fuel costs, council tax and any other charges.

You should also ask about their plans during the tenancy. Are they thinking about decorating, furnishing or making any other changes that could affect the property? Do they have any plans to sublet or bring in other people? It’s important to clarify these points at the outset so there is no misunderstanding about the rights and responsibilities of both parties.

Handling the viewing

You should allow prospects sufficient time to view all of the property and spend more time in parts that are particularly interesting. A prospect who asks for more time is generally a good prospect. It can be off-putting to rush visitors or hover around them throughout the viewing. If you give them time to circulate and discuss the property in private, that removes any feeling of pressure.

Some viewers may ask for more time to consider or ask to revisit. That can be a good sign, so try to read the situation and make up your mind if their interest is genuine. Whatever the response, let the visitor know the next step — who to contact and the process to follow.

Viewings during COVID-19

The recent pandemic has changed the nature of property viewing. For the first period of lockdown, no physical viewings were allowed and landlords and homeowners had to rely on virtual viewings by video. From June 15th 2020, physical viewings are permitted but under strict social distancing and public health guidelines. This is a summary of the main points from the Government guidelines:

  • Hold Initial viewings virtually if possible
  • Limit visitors to members of the same household
  • No open house viewings
  • Ask viewers to wear masks and gloves
  • Provide hand sanitiser and advise visitors to avoid touching surfaces
  • Clean all handles and surfaces after each viewing
  • Practice social distancing throughout the viewing

Other landlord services

Viewings are just part of the process of getting tenants on board. If you would like support with other aspects, get in touch with Portico to find out the different level of landlord services we offer. 

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