Landlord Experience - Ian Corcoran
I have advertised exclusively through MSH since it first started up. I did try an agent for the first time this year with the intention of retiring, but it proved to be an unmitigated disaster so I crawled back to MSH with my tail between my legs and a mouthful of ‘Humble Pie’.
I am happy to advertise with MSH because I believe they instil confidence in the students that they are dealing with a University-owned organisation rather than an agent and that the houses and landlords they are introduced to are accredited and meet a strict code of standards. I do wonder if MSH gets their message across to sufficient students as so many still end up with agents.
The advertising process is simple enough, the platform easy to use and the fees reasonable. My biggest source of frustration is that the early enquiries are mostly via electronic messages, which are time consuming as opposed to a simple phone call.
The process begins in late October and can run into late January or longer if one is unlucky.
In summary it is a good, efficient service that I will look forward to using whilst I am in the letting business.
The calls start to come in late October or early November. When I first receive contact from a potential group I try to give as much information as possible at this early stage to ensure that they actually turn up. I suggest the best days to meet and always propose we meet after 2pm in the hope that my current tenants are awake!! The hardest thing at this time of year are the ‘no shows’ and the ‘window shoppers’ where only one or two turn up. When we agree a date and time I always give my current tenants a minimum of 24 hours’ notice. I am frequently asked to do a viewing on the same day but always refuse saying ‘I have to respect my tenants’ privacy as I would yours next year’.
When we meet at the house I introduce myself and thank them for the opportunity to show them around. I knock on the door and ask my tenant(s) if they were expecting us and are we free to roam around. I also ask if anybody may still be in bed!! As we walk around the house I encourage questions and try to point out aspects/features of the property. This is essentially a ‘sales pitch’ but I try not to overdo it as it can be off-putting. Before we leave I suggest the viewers talk to my current tenants privately while I wait outside so they can ask questions about the house, the area, transport, security and about me! I work hard on my relationship with my tenants so I am always confident that they will speak well of me. Before we depart I ask them if they have any more questions and tell them they are welcome to view again especially if their group is incomplete. I thank them for their interest and leave them with a business card. I also thank my tenants and ensure that I re-lock any rooms.
Very often a group wishes to commit themselves at the viewing stage. When this happens I ask for an email address, send them a copy of the tenancy agreement and encourage them to have it verified by MSH. Likewise when a group calls me later wishing to take a house I do the same thing. I do encourage them not to hang around as houses are let on a ‘first come first served’ basis.
When we agree to meet I try to organise it in the offices of MSH. This is an example of me being ‘open and transparent’ and intended to inspire the students with confidence. The office is well furnished for large groups and I am confident to conduct my business in ‘ear shot’ of the staff of MSH.
At this meeting we discuss the tenancy agreement again, prompting any questions and sign up. I also provide them with guarantor and standing order forms and agree timescale for their return. I show them a copy of the house energy certificate and current inventory so they know what furniture to expect. Finally I request their deposit is transferred electronically at which point the house is secured for them. I explain that their deposit will be protected, we also agree a move-in date and I inform them that we will need to arrange a brief further meeting to hand over paperwork.
Occasionally after a group has completed the paperwork they will ask to see the house again to choose rooms etc. I am always happy to oblige and as above I notify my tenants accordingly.
Keys, Inventory and Advice
Early in July I will receive calls requesting keys and to move belongings in. My practice is to only release keys when the inventory has been prepared so the first person/people I meet walk around the house with me to agree or amend the inventory as necessary. I also take the opportunity to explain how to operate the boiler, use the showers, read the meters and how to dispose of rubbish and recycling. I show them the ‘housekeeping manual’ that I have written, which includes everything for a successful tenancy such as security, fire safety, personal safety, manuals, certificates and typical problems they may encounter. I try to persuade the first person to take responsibility for all the keys but it is common to have to meet several different people.
The International Friendly Standard
Manchester Student Homes's very own International Student Friendly Standard bas been running for 2 years and we continue to recruit and recognise landlords and private halls that provide a fair and transparent service to international students. International students will be guided to accommodation providers that can meet the standard and searching for accommodation will be simplified to make accessing accommodation easier for international students.
This is a project unique to Manchester Student Homes and it is supported by the International Departments of the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University as well as the International Society.
To find out more click here.
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