Becoming a Landlord with Brookdale
Whether you are an experienced investor or a first time landlord, use our step by step guide on this page to learn how we differ from other agents and how the process works. We believe that we offer a level of service above that of other local agents and a reasonable and honest cost. Once you have read through this guide please take the time to look at our allAgents and Google reviews.
A good deal of our new business comes from either landlords who are dissatisfied with their current agent or as a recommendation from one of our current landlords or former tenants – a reflection, we feel, of our excellent service levels. Our directors were also invited to give a speech on the lettings world to Members of Parliament in 2017.
Please do not hesitate to contact the office if you have any queries. We always have the time and someone available to chat.
For the peace of mind for all parties, Brookdale Property Management are registered with Propertymark’s Client Money Protection Scheme.
Brookdale Property Management Services Ltd was formed back in 1989 and has presided over thousands of lets. We currently manage close to 1,200 private rental properties.
Our experience in residential property management now spans over four decades. Between all our staff we share close to 200 years of property management experience with 16 staff in the office on a daily basis. We pride ourselves on our excellent customer service and our careful tenant selection.
We deal solely with rental properties, no sales, so we are able to maintain a focus on property management, without being on the lookout for the next sales commission, which can affect an agent’s judgement.
We are based in Peterborough and only cover Peterborough and the surrounding areas so we can specialise in the area unlike national agents.
We are independent with one office, not part of a group, chain or franchise so make our own decisions in terms of business policy, salary structure and customer service. Senior staff members are in the office daily so issues can be quickly addressed.
We do not pay staff commission to let properties and do not set targets in terms of properties let each month. We prefer to focus on quality rather than quantity and this unique strategy has helped us to become the largest of the letting agents in Peterborough.
There is a great deal you need to understand and feel comfortable with before deciding to let your property - not least your choice of letting agent.
Our free consultation valuation (usually held at the property) is to help you understand what to expect when becoming a landlord - whether you are letting your own home or buying an investment property. Usually, we will have sent you an information pack before the meeting in order to give you a head start.
At the meeting we will explain to you how we market properties, choose the best tenants and provide what we believe is the best management service in Peterborough. We can discuss when you wish to market the property and take appropriate steps to prepare for this.
Once you have decided to let your property do contact us as soon as you can. Our aim is to maximise your investment and part of this is to aim to secure a tenancy as soon as possible.
We deal with working, organised professional tenants and they are usually looking for a property well in advance. Many have to provide a notice period to their existing landlord/agent, therefore early marketing is essential.
The next step is easy - we visit your property to take photographs and details of the property in order to prepare our marketing.
There is a great deal of landlord/tenancy legislation which must be adhered to - and it is always changing!
It is commonly misunderstood that falling foul of legislation will impose penalties on the letting agent. Even if you use a letting agent it is actually the landlord who would be fined for having no gas/electric certification, energy performance certificate or for not registering the tenant’s deposit. It is therefore important that you choose a letting agent who is experienced and who does not cut corners.
Before a tenancy begins we may require the following to be in place:
An energy performance certificate must be provided for us to market the property(we can organise this for you if necessary).
Your signed management agreement should be with us before we sign the tenancy contract on your behalf.
A landlord’s gas safety check AND a full electrical check must be performed before the commencement of the tenancy (we can organise this if required).
If your property is within the Selective Licensing area of Peterborough you will need to start arranging to ensure compliance with the licensing scheme. You can find out more here. We can guide you on this too if relevant.
We require two full sets of keys for the property at least 48 hours before the tenancy commences.
Any manuals for appliances should be provided to us or left at the property.
If you are carrying out any work to the property (including any gardening) this should be completed at least two working days before the commencement of the tenancy so that we may carry out an accurate video inventory.
We will of course guide you more specifically for your property in preparation for the tenancy.
There are two key points to marketing your property: It should be marketed to its fullest potential AND at the right price. Technology plays a huge part in our marketing. We use Rightmove and Zoopla for advertising and our own database allows easy matching of those searching for a property with properties that match their search criteria.
At Brookdale we have a dedicated team responsible for marketing. We use automatic text messages and emails and we send to our registered property hunters the property details as soon as the property is live on all websites.
We value properties using our experience of the current market, analysis of the 30-40 properties we let each month and the huge number of properties we currently manage. Rental values do not always match mortgage commitments; neither do they always rise in line with either inflation or mortgage interest rates. They are quite simply market driven and anything over-priced will just sit on the shelf. Setting the right rent from the start is vital so we will always offer an honest opinion on value rather than over-pricing to win your business.
One of the most significant changes in tenant awareness over the years has been the introduction of property websites. On most sites, properties can be listed on the screen in rental value order. If your property is marketed too high in terms of rental value, it will be listed next to larger, more desirable properties and stand out as too expensive. Because of these property sites, tenants have a great deal more knowledge of rental values.
Every week we send our landlords a letter showing how viewings of the property have progressed. Without such regular feedback it can almost feel as though nothing is happening and landlords have to call in to check on progress. We also keep in touch through the marketing process to advise you if alterations such as a rent reduction are necessary.
We have a reputation in Peterborough for being very choosy about whom we rent a property to. Our selection process starts with that first call from a prospective tenant where we ensure that a framework of criteria is met before we arrange a viewing. The viewing itself also allows us the opportunity to assess the prospective tenant before we’ve even begun the application process.
If a prospective tenant decides to apply for a property then they must have an application interview with a Property Manager. At the interview, the application form will be discussed at length and we require proof of I.D., bank statements (it’s all very well confirming income but how is the money spent?), utility bills etc. We then discuss the application with you.
Tenant selection criteria is perhaps the most crucial part of residential property management. Some of the main points to our selection procedure are:
- Anyone under the age of 25 may require a contract guarantor.
- We interview all applicants and applications are approved by a senior manager
- For local applicants the most important part of our referencing is to visit the current home of the applicant to assess their suitability as a tenant where feasible.
- We do not use external referencing agencies who do not have an opportunity to judge the character of the applicant. We prefer to use our experience in assessing tenants.
- We insist on examining bank statements. This allows us to see possible problems (heavy gambling for example) so we can avoid issues.
- All tenants are fully credit-checked and references are taken.
We have no target number of properties to let each month: How can we? Why do agents set targets? At Brookdale if we let 30 each month then we selected 30 good tenants who liked the look of 30 properties. If we let 50 then the same rule applies. There is no compromise to meet targets.
We also do not, never have and never will, pay staff commission to let properties. Financial reward in terms of commission for selling a house is entirely appropriate as, to put it very basically, an estate agent and a vendor usually don’t care who buys a house but a lettings agent must give careful consideration to who they house.
Finally, if we allowed one in ten “bad” tenants through our vetting process we would have to deal with more than one hundred problem tenancies. Although we are experienced and know how to deal with problems, this level of work would be a disaster for our business.
Establishment Fee - £200 + VAT (per property - NOT per tenant)
The establishment fee covers all the work we do after initially taking on your property. I.e. marketing, carrying out tenant viewings, organising the tenancy contract, performing the video inventory etc. The establishment fee effectively covers the cost of the first let of your property.
Contract Renewal Fee - £50 + VAT (per property - NOT per tenant)
If both yourself and the tenant(s) wish to renew the contract after the initial fixed term then the contract renewal fee covers this.
Re-Let Fee - £125 + VAT (per property - NOT per tenant)
The re-let fee covers the cost of re-letting your property each time a tenant moves out and a new tenant moves in.
Monthly Commission Rate
Our commission rate is 12% + VAT. This sum is only collected for tenanted periods and covers a great deal of our services such as:
- Need a copy of a statement? No extra charge
- To have us inspect the property during a tenancy? No extra charge
- Need a copy of a contract or the inventory? No extra charge
Astonishingly, we are finding other agents charging for the likes of the above, especially since the Tenant Fee Ban 2019 came in to force.
The commission rate covers most points and general management apart from third party issues such as maintenance costs, possible legal expenses and “Selective Licensing” (if relevant to your property). We will always try our best to give you an idea on costs with these extra issues should they arise.
Remember that most agents will have similar fees, some will even seek to undercut our rates but do you really want to risk a poorly managed tenancy with a different agent for the sake of a few pounds per month? A quick look at our reviews should confirm our quality and commitment.
In-House Rental Guarantee Commission Rate
We offer a non-insurance based rental guarantee scheme for an additional 2% + VAT commission (total being 14% + VAT). You can find about more about this scheme here.
With the application process completed we draw up the Tenancy Agreement and arrange for your new tenants to visit our office for the handing over of keys and the completion of tenancy paperwork.
Prior to the move-in we carry out a full video inventory. One of our staff records every part of the property with a camcorder. The video is then copied to our servers and stored. Included on the video inventory are the condition of the gardens, every room including decoration, flooring, fixtures and fitting.
The tenant receives a copy of the video in USB Drive format. We ask the tenant(s) to view the inventory and check we have included all defects, notifying the office if they feel something has been missed within seven days of the start of their tenancy.
Many people see the video inventory as a means to protect the property from damage caused by tenants. In reality it serves two purposes; protecting the landlord against any potential damage/cleaning issues but also it helps to protect the tenant’s deposit by ensuring that we do not make charges for defects which existed prior to the tenancy.
Lack of evidence is the main reason landlords lose out in disputes over deposit returns. A video inventory is absolutely essential, most other agents still seem to rely on written/photograph inventories. We register the deposit for you (usually with the Deposit Protection Service) and, have found with the occasional dispute that we have experienced, that our video footage and comprehensively detailed claim have led to the majority of disputes being found in the landlord’s favour.
Our first property inspection is carried around 8-12 weeks after the tenant moves in. This gives the tenants a chance to settle in and is a strong indicator for how they will care for your property for the length of the tenancy. Thereafter, inspections are carried out every six months with feedback provided to our landlords.
It is company policy that if a junior staff member has a concern about an inspection they must address it with one of the senior members of staff, the senior staff member taking ‘ownership’ of the problem, where appropriate. If we feel there is an ongoing issue with the conduct of the tenancy, you will be contacted and then we will increase the frequency of inspections until the problem is rectified.
Shortly after the tenant has served notice to vacate the property we arrange a ‘Pre-Leaving Inspection’. The aim is to ensure that we do everything we can to ensure that the tenant(s) receive a full deposit refund, meaning that they will have left the property in very good order for you. Of course, at this stage we are also re-marketing the property and showing prospective tenants round so, particularly if any decoration by the tenant is required, now is a good time to do this to present the property as best as possible.
After the tenant(s) have returned the keys we carry out the final inspection. A copy of the initial video inventory is loaded onto a handheld media player so that every part of the property can be checked in detail. We always invite landlords to join us at the final inspection as this may be a good time to discuss any general cosmetic improvements which may be required in order to keep the property attractive for both immediate and future new tenants.
It is an unfortunate fact that, even with the very best of properties, maintenance issues can arise from time to time.
Our service focuses on the fact that, for every maintenance issue, we have a tenant with a problem which requires solving and a landlord with concerns relating to not only the cost of repairs, but the general well-being of the property. We do not operate a policy where repairs up to a certain cost are automatically carried out without notification to the landlord, neither do we take a retainer fee to cover maintenance costs as many agents do.
In the event of a maintenance issue we call the landlord. They then have the option of instructing their own (suitably qualified) maintenance person or using ours who are all suitably qualified and have public liability insurance. The cost is simply deducted from the next rental payment although in the event of the cost being more than one months rent we may ask for payment in advance.
Poor response to maintenance issues seems to be the biggest source of complaints in the world of letting so we ensure that these issues are handled quickly and efficiently. Our database and excellent staff training allow us to track the progress of the repair to keep all parties informed.
All landlords and tenants our important to us. In the event of urgent issues such as heating problems all staff advise a senior staff member of the problem and keep them updated so that a successful conclusion is reached. We also go as far as to drop electric heaters to tenants with no heating at no cost to the landlord or tenant to aid the situation whilst repairs are undertaken.
The tenant’s notice is processed in-house and the landlord is sent a letter/e-mail containing the details of the proposed vacation date. The marketing team will then contact the landlord to discuss the marketing of the property, checking points such as rental value, possible upgrade works and any queries the landlord may have.
We then advertise the property on Rightmove and Zoopla with a linked page also being present on our own website. Our database holds allows us to text and email the new listing to any of the approximately 200 potential tenants we have on our system whose criteria matches the property. We notify the current tenants of any viewings booked and a member of staff will attend all viewings.
For the tenants we arrange a pre-leaving inspection where we seek to guide the tenant on works they need to deal with prior to leaving. This also gives us an opportunity to notify the landlord of any maintenance that may need doing prior to a new tenancy starting.
As the tenancy comes to an end the landlord is contacted and invited to the final inspection of the property.
We serve notice on your behalf. This notice is served (usually) by hand and the date and time is recorded.
It is best to contact us as soon as you have any thoughts about taking your property back so that we can act quickly and within the required time-frames.
If the tenant is within a fixed term initial contract, the notice cannot expire before the end of the fixed term or before two months after serving notice.
The tenant can leave the property at any time after the notice is served. We keep in touch with the tenants so we can let you know when they intend to vacate.
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