Absolutely not!  It may be appropriate for an agent to understand your financial situation and to know that you can get a mortgage, but they are not allowed to discriminate based on buyers using their own related services.

Agents are required to disclose information that they believe could influence your transactional decision.  So, if an agent knows something they think you need to know, they legally must tell you about it.

This doesn’t mean that they will know everything about the property, but agents are now required to conduct a level of due diligence before they go to the market.  So, if there have been ongoing arguments with the neighbours, there is a right of way running through the garden, or there is an absent freeholder, and the agent is aware, they should have told you.

Yes, this is something that we encourage at Southgate Estates.  Sometimes it’s nice to view the property with the current owners so that you know who you are dealing with.  We often find that this makes transactions more straightforward, as the buyers and sellers will better understand each other.

The usual timescale is between 8 and 15 weeks, but this can vary depending on several factors.  When buying, you will be dependent on your solicitor, your mortgage company, and the rest of the chain moving at the desired pace.

The environment agency now allows buyers to check the flood risk of a property free of charge.  It is also a good idea to ask the estate agent to check if a property has ever flooded.

Where do you want to check? – Check your long term flood risk – GOV.UK (

Don’t forget that your solicitor is there to look after your best interests. A good, efficient solicitor can make a huge difference to the whole process.

We always suggest that your first port of call for finding a good solicitor should be to ask family and friends for their recommendations (or warnings!).  If you don’t have any luck with that, maybe ask someone in the industry whom you know you can trust.

We advise that you never base your decision solely on price or on review websites that allow firms to sponsor or select their own reviews.  If relying on reviews, Google or Facebook reviews seem the most reliable as they don’t provide an easy route for companies to influence their reviews.  If a firm has removed itself from either of these platforms, there is probably a good reason for this!

You could also ask your estate agent, but please note that many estate agents still accept kickbacks for recommending lawyers and financial advisors. This often means they will recommend the firm that pays them the most rather than one that will do a better job.

We generally find that the larger online companies often don’t provide the same level of service as a good, established local firm.  If there is a problem, you want to be able to meet with your solicitor to chat this over.

This depends on your situation and what you are looking to buy.  If you are looking for a fairly standard modern home, there should be plenty of choice at any time.  However, if you are looking for something more unique, it could take longer to find. We advise you to keep an eye on the market and be ready to ‘jump’ should an ideal property come onto the market.

There are several costs that you should consider.  The main costs will be associated with the mortgage, conveyancing process and stamp duty, but we suggest you consider all of the following:

  • Estate agent fees if you are selling a property. (Typically 1.5% of the sale price.)
  • Conveyancing fees for buying a property, including searches, etc. (Typically £1300 to £2500.)
  • Conveyancing fees for selling a property. (Typically £1000 to £2000.)
  • Stamp duty (Please check this carefully. It will also vary depending on whether you are a first-time buyer, buying for a second time, or buying a second home, etc.)
  • Removals service. (This will usually be between £1000 and £4000 for a local move, depending on who you use and how much furniture you have.)
  • Replacement of furniture, etc.
  • The cost of the property survey. (Typically between £400 for a basic valuation on a small house to £1500 for a full structural survey on a larger property.)

It is not a legal requirement, but it is becoming more commonplace to expect that both the electrical and gas systems have been checked in the last year or so.

It is always worth asking if the vendors have paperwork for these items, as they may already exist and will put your mind at rest.  You could also ask your vendors if they will allow you to send your own electrician or gas technician into the property before exchanging contracts to do an inspection.

Survey reports are nearly always negative, so it might not be as bad as you first think.

If you can imagine walking into the doctors and asking for a list of everything slightly wrong with you, there would probably be quite a list of imperfections. Older people are all likely to have a bit of rot in their teeth or a dodgy joint somewhere. Houses are just the same. If a house isn’t brand new, there will be some degradation, but this is completely normal and to be expected. Remember, you’ve paid the surveyor to find these faults.

It’s worth mentioning that electrical and gas installations usually get a warning or low rating in the survey report, even if they appear to be perfectly safe and in good condition. This is because they fall outside the surveyor’s remit, and a faulty installation is potentially dangerous. If this happens, there’s no need to panic as they can easily be checked by gas and electrical engineers.


This will depend on several factors, which should include the age and type of property and your attitude towards risk.  Generally speaking, on newer houses, a lesser level of survey is often appropriate, whereas on period properties, you might want to go for something a little more detailed.

If taking a mortgage, it is sometimes a good idea to go for a more basic valuation with the mortgage company, but perhaps instruct a level 2 or level 3 survey with an independent surveyor.  This is because issues that are picked up on a more detailed mortgage survey could impact whether your lender will be satisfied with the property.

Unless you are extremely experienced in buildings, a survey is always recommended.  Even on new-build properties, there could be faults that the average person will not notice.

There are several levels of survey that can be conducted. These range from a basic valuation survey to a more detailed full structural survey.  Prices vary considerably.

When choosing a surveyor, we suggest that it might not always be a good idea to use the surveyor recommended by the estate agents. After all, the estate agents have a vested interest in the property completing, so may recommend surveyors who are less likely to be critical of the property.

Get your ducks in a row!  Agents like to see that buyers are organised and serious about the transaction.  If a buyer already has their mortgage offer in principle and has chosen their solicitor, then that will be attractive to both the agent and seller.

Being organised in this way could mean that your vendors accept a slightly lower price, so you could save money by being organised.

No, you shouldn’t.  It’s always a good idea to speak to a mortgage advisor before you start the process of looking, but agents are paid to sell houses and putting hurdles in the way should not be part of their job.

Please note that some agents put undue pressure on buyers to see their own mortgage advisor. Apart from being banned under the Consumer Protection Regulations, this activity is commonplace with some of the more corporate and less reputable agencies. Forcing you to see a financial advisor who you don’t want to see or using this to discriminate between buyers is not allowed.

That said, if you are looking at a property that has multiple interested parties, then you want to turn yourself into the most attractive buyer possible.  Having already taken financial advice and having a good solicitor lined up will put you in a strong position.

We usually encourage people to view our properties, even if they’ve not yet sold.  A buyer’s status can change very quickly, so we believe it is sometimes a good idea to view properties before becoming proceedable.


Absolutely yes.  If you have a viewing, then the agent has done their job to get people into your home.  It never ceases to amaze us how little effort some clients put into leaving their property suitable for viewings.

When people buy houses, they often do so with their hearts.  You are not just selling the building, but the lifestyle too.  So presenting your property well is essential.

As a bare minimum, we suggest giving the whole house a vacuum, making sure all beds are made, clothes put away, and all washing up is done.  Cleaning windows, mirrors, and bathrooms can also really help.  If you have a dog, then picking up in the garden is essential.

Yes.  We still consider that it is our responsibility to keep things on track whilst the transaction is progressing.  This is a part of the service that many agencies have cut to save costs, and many of the online agencies don’t have any after-sales support whatsoever.

At Southgate, we will check progress on a weekly basis, and we will be there for you as you need us.  We even have a dedicated sales progressor, who previously worked as a conveyancing solicitor.  Whilst we can’t give legal advice, we will be on the other end of the phone to answer your questions and negotiate on your behalf to keep the transaction on track.

This will vary, but generally speaking, most transactions take between six weeks and three months.  This will depend on a number of factors, including the competency of the solicitors, the complexity of the transaction and whether anything comes up along the way.  Leasehold properties tend to take longer than straightforward freehold properties.

At Southgate Estates, when we recommend, we mean ‘we recommend’.  The solicitors and financial advisors that we recommend are done so purely on merit.  It is commonplace for agencies to promote services that pay for recommendations, but not with Southgate.  We never accept referral fees or any other form of bribery for recommendations!

Engaging with competent solicitors and financial advisors is crucial to a smooth transaction.  If you haven’t already got a good solicitor or IFA, we suggest you ask friends or family members as a first port of call for recommendations.

If you don’t have anyone in mind, we will happily recommend some excellent individuals who we genuinely believe will do an excellent job for you.

Virtually every survey report will now make these recommendations. Firstly, you should consider whether these checks are necessary. For instance, if the boiler has been fitted recently and you can provide evidence that it has been reasonably well maintained, you have probably fulfilled your part of the deal. The buyer must be aware that they are not buying a brand-new boiler, and as long as it is functioning correctly, they should be happy. Our recommendation is usually to allow the buyer to have a boiler check conducted at their own expense or simply demonstrate that it works to their satisfaction.

Similarly, if the electrical installation is fairly recent, the buyer should not be overly concerned. Again, we normally recommend that the buyer be allowed to have the system inspected, but we do always stress that the electrical installation would often not be expected to fully conform to the latest regulations, as the rules seem to be constantly changing. As long as the system is in reasonable condition considering its age, you would not normally be expected to contribute towards the cost of this inspection or any recommended improvements.

You are perfectly right to question this. It could well mean that your property is going to achieve more than you were first expecting, which does happen on some occasions. However, do bear in mind that the first few days of marketing are the most likely time you will get a good offer. As the property is brand new on the market, it will get an initial flurry of interest, which can lead to several people expressing an interest and sometimes bidding against each other or being willing to pay slightly more to secure the property they want, in fear that it might go to somebody else.

After we receive an offer, we will immediately call you with the offer details.  Our agents will explain the details of the offer, the offer level, who is in the chain, and where the funding is coming from.

We will work with you in deciding whether to accept the offer or what approach to take in negotiations.  Unlike many agencies, Southgate Estates has a policy of not pushing you to accept offers you are not happy with.  We’re on your side!

Once it becomes clear that an offer is to be accepted, our staff will start the due diligence process before the property is marked as ‘sold’.  Whilst we have to satisfy anti-money laundering procedures, we will also look at the buyer’s mortgage offer and deposit funds, and we will perform a full check of the chain if there are related sales.

After every viewing, our agents will do their best to get some feedback.  We usually do this the following day, so please don’t be alarmed if you haven’t heard from us immediately.  It is really important to give potential buyers time to think about whether they like the property, so we generally find that calling the next day is most appropriate.  We will then call or email you with a summary of the viewing, and with a little luck, we will get some offers.

Please note that viewings conducted on Saturdays will usually not be fed back until the following Monday.

Your property should smell fresh and welcoming.

All too often, homeowners are completely oblivious to odours within their own homes.  If you have animals, buyers will likely pick up on this, even if you are completely unaware.  It might be worth asking a trusted friend for their opinion (or your estate agent at the valuation, but many agents will not want to risk offending you by telling you that your home smells).

We also recommend you think carefully about what you cook before viewings. Nothing is more off-putting than the odour of last night’s kippers or the smell of stale curry. Even strong air fresheners can put buyers off, so please avoid attempting to mask smells using air fresheners or Febreze.

On the other hand, fresh flowers, freshly cooked bread or cakes, or freshly brewed coffee can be a great way to create a welcoming aroma as viewers walk through the door!

Buying a house should be a carefully considered transaction, so buyers must be given time to make their decision.  For this reason, your agent should allow the clients plenty of time to look around.  Our experience tells us that first viewings tend to last between 20 minutes to around an hour, depending on the size of the home.  This will be reflected in the time we allocate to viewings, and we are great believers in inviting potential buyers to visit a property several times if necessary, so their decision to offer will be well-thought-out.

You need to consider that buyers can walk away from their purchase at any point up to the exchange of contracts.  The conveyancing process essentially gives buyers a 2 to 3-month cooling-off period if they change their mind.  This highlights the importance of giving buyers plenty of time to be sure about their offer before they even decide to put it forward.  We encourage buyers to take as much time as they need to be comfortable with their decisions.

We want to achieve the best we can for your property.  When we accompany viewings, we ensure that our agents are well-briefed about the finer details of your home.  Our experienced staff will know what needs to be said to reassure potential buyers, and the feedback we get from buyers is that they feel very well-informed and comfortable with our agents.

Whilst many vendors are perfectly capable of conducting their own viewings, we find that buyers are generally more at ease when they are shown around by the agents.

We’re more than happy for you to remain in your property whilst we show potential buyers around, but our advice is usually that the clients should vacate the property during viewings.

However, we do feel that it is often positive for sellers to meet their buyers and can make the transaction more relaxed for all parties involved. For this reason, we sometimes suggest that our vendors be present for second viewings or re-visits.

We always suggest you allow around one week if you want the job done properly.  We can usually visit to take photographs within a couple of days.  After we have visited, it usually takes about 24 hours to prepare the marketing materials, edit the photographs, formulate the brochure, and put the video together.  At Southgate Estates, we like to proofread the text ourselves and then send it to the client for approval.

Once approval is received, the glossy brochures usually arrive within two working days.

Please consider that the process of selling your property will take many weeks from when it is listed to the point at which it completes.  It’s not worth rushing the first part, which can make a big difference to how well it might sell.

We are passionate about doing the best we can for your property.  As such, we have designed our package to obtain the best sale possible for your property, and we have kept our fees to be very competitive.  If you want a ‘cheap and cheerful’ service and are happy to accept a lower standard and possibly a lower price for your property, there are a number of agencies that might better suit your needs.

We are also keen that our sellers and buyers are adequately supported throughout the process, so we believe that cutting back on our service standards is not in your best interests.

We suggest considering whether you believe a higher standard of estate agency is worth paying for.  Getting a fraction more for your property is likely to completely outweigh the difference in fees you might pay if you use a cheap agency.  Our fees are extremely competitive, and as an ethically based agency, our terms are designed to be very fair.

It is not our intention to be the cheapest agent, but we certainly won’t be the most expensive either!

You are probably about to sell your most valuable asset, and how you present it will make a difference.  Although buyers should be able to overlook how tidy the property is, it is a well-known fact that first impressions really do count.

Our recommendation is that you spend the weeks running up to going onto the market getting ready.  Ensure the front garden is tended to, the windows and doors are clean, and the house is tidy and clean throughout.

As agents, we will do what we can to make the property look good online, but it is not our role to clean and tidy before viewings.  Please ensure your house is tidy before the photographer visits, so we can make it look its best in the advertising materials. (Making beds is not part of our job description, but something we do far too often ahead of the photographs.)

At Southgate Estates, we understand that sometimes situations change, and you may need to withdraw from the market.  If this happens, please be open and honest with us about your circumstances.

We work on a no-sale, no-fee basis, so you only pay us if your home actually exchanges contracts.

We really hope you won’t feel the need to change agency, but if you do, we simply ask for one week’s notice so we can follow up on any enquiries that are already underway.  Like any contract you sign in your own home, our agency contracts can be cancelled at any point within the first 14 days of signing.

It’s not always that easy to spot this, but there are ways.

Firstly, if you use the internet portals to search for properties that are ‘new instructions’ in the last few days, it will often show which of these properties have been reduced in price.

Secondly, there are tools available that show pricing history.  PatMa is one such tool that can be useful to show the listing history of a property.  Free property price history browser extensions showing yield, ROI and estimated rent | PaTMa

Please note that these methods are not totally reliable, and some less-reputable agents will fraudulently re-list their properties with slightly different postcodes or addresses to lose the listing history of a property.

Also, don’t be afraid to quiz an agent on his local instructions.  If he knows what he’s doing and has a good experience of your area, he should know what price was achieved for his nearest ‘under offer’ listings.

This will almost certainly come out during the conveyancing process with your solicitor after the sale is agreed, so probably cannot be buried – both from a legal perspective and a moral viewpoint.  If you are not sure whether you consider yourselves to be in dispute, please get some advice on this.

Estate agents are covered by the Consumer Protection Act, so if an agent knows material information that could influence someone’s transactional decision to purchase the property, then they are required to declare it.

That said, if we know that you’ve fallen out with your neighbours, then we suggest that it is best discussed very early on.  It won’t necessarily stop your property from selling, but we will need to consider the best approach.  There will be some buyers who may not be deterred by such issues, so having an early understanding of the issues is the key to the transaction proceeding.

For instance, if you have complained about your neighbour parking their van on the drive, then there will be some buyers who simply won’t be worried.  Having that conversation during the first viewing could avoid an abortive transaction because your agent might sell to the wrong buyer.

At Southgate Estates, our tie-in period is one week.

Watch out for agents that have long sole agency periods!  This can be a sign that the agent is not confident they will sell your house quickly at the price they suggest going onto the market.  A long sole agency period will allow your agent to push for price reductions without the risk of losing you as a client, as you cannot change agents within the sole agency period.

(Southgate Estates’ tie-in period is usually no more than one week at any point.  Some agencies have tie-in periods of up to 26 weeks.  Our advice to clients is that you should think very carefully about signing up to long sole agency agreements as sometimes things don’t work out.  You don’t want to be stuck for months with an agency that doesn’t live up to expectations.)

We are estate agents, not chartered valuers.  We are usually able to provide a letter confirming the value of a property that can be used for a simple probate application.  This may be used for probate, but as a general rule, it should not be used for calculating the tax payable.  Please talk to your solicitor or advisor about what type of valuation is required. We do not charge for this service.

If you need a formal valuation for the calculation of inheritance or capital gains tax, you will most likely need to instruct a chartered valuer.  Should you need a chartered valuer, please drop us a line – we are more than happy to recommend individuals who can provide this service, or you may wish to look at the RICS website.  Find a Member (

It is widely known that many agents will value on the high side.  This is usually a sales tactic to win your favour and gain an instruction. Research shows that as many as 70% of clients will go with the highest valuation, hence the temptation for the valuer to be overly optimistic.

So, our advice is to be clear with the valuer that their valuation will not affect your decision about which agent you will ultimately choose.  Perhaps emphasise that you want them to be realistic.  Don’t be afraid to challenge the agency on how they came up with the figure and ask them to back up their suggestion with comparable properties.

Even if you don’t expect to be ready for some time to go on the market, we suggest you get the agents in at the earliest opportunity.  A good agent should be able to give you tips about preparing for marketing, when to sell, and anything that you need to do before you start the process.

Once an agent has valued, they should be able to adjust that valuation if the property market changes before you are ready to market.

Yes, we do.  Just like every part of the service we offer, we will willingly visit you to advise on both the best marketing price for your property, as well as the likely sale price.

Unlike many agencies, we promise that our appraisal of your property will be honest, well-researched and realistic.  We also promise not to pressure you to use our services or sign up on the day. Selling your home is a big decision, so you should choose your agency carefully.

We operate mainly around Exeter, but we’re happy to market properties within around 30 minutes of our city-centre offices.

We are great believers that to provide the best service, we need to be knowledgeable about the location, and we like to think that we know Exeter and the surrounding areas extremely well.  If the property is not on our regular patch, you might be better off using a more local agent.


We understand that most tenants will occasionally have overnight guests.  However, we need to be clear that guests cannot live in the property or stay for extended periods.  If you have a guest who is looking to stay for more than a couple of nights, please speak to us.

Under no circumstances should guests use the property as a mailing address.

Obviously, you cannot move in until the previous tenants have moved out and the property has been cleaned, etc.  An application usually takes around 5 to 10 days to process, but this will be dependent on the time it takes for the landlord and your employer to respond to the reference requests.

We have an online application system.  If you would like to apply for one of the properties, please ask us to email the dedicated link, which will take you through the application process.

Once we have received your application, we will review the application in full, and if successful, we will ask you to place a holding deposit to reserve the property.

Some of our properties are pet friendly.  Please tell us if you have a pet so that we can direct you to an appropriate property.  That said, many of our properties do not allow pets and even those that do, will almost certainly restrict the type and number of pets that are allowed.  Some of our properties charge a ‘pet rent’.

Please note that securing pet-friendly rental property can be challenging.  For this reason, we strongly advise that people looking to rent in the long-term should consider carefully before getting a dog or cat.  After all, there is never a guarantee that your existing rental arrangement will continue in the longer term and if you are unable to find subsequent properties that will accept your pets, then it may put you in the position where you have to find an alternative home for your pet.

Once the end date of the tenancy has been set, you will need to plan your move.  We usually ask for the keys to be dropped back to our office, and we generally inspect the property for damage as you move out.

After the checkout report is received, we will advise you of whether the deposit can be returned in full or if the landlord is requesting that funds be retained to cover any damage.

You cannot be charged for fair wear and tear.

Where damage has occurred, we will discuss this with you, and hopefully, an amicable arrangement can be made.  If there is any disagreement, then independent adjudicators will look at this on your behalf to determine the level of deposit that can be returned.

Please note that Southgate Estates always attempt to be very fair with our tenants.  However, the final decision on deposit retention is usually made by the landlord.

Most of our tenancies are 6 or 12 months, but then move on to a period rolling contract.  This means that the contract is fixed for the first period, and then it would normally continue to run afterwards on a monthly basis.  Once in the ‘periodic’ part of the tenancy, tenants are usually required to serve one month’s notice, and landlords are required to serve two months’ notice.

In some circumstances, we can offer longer tenancies, but assured shorthold tenancies cannot be less than six months.  Our standard student tenancies are usually a fixed 11-month period.

Although the landlord will usually insure the building, their insurance will not normally cover your possessions or damage caused by yourself to items such as carpets.  We strongly advise that tenants take out a suitable ‘renters’ insurance policy.

You are essentially contracted into your tenancy for a fixed period.  This is usually 6 or 12 months (or 11 months for a student tenancy).  Whilst the landlord does not have to release you from this contract, they may choose to do so.  If things go wrong, please talk to us, and we will do our best to find an amicable solution.

It is usually set at a level equivalent to 5 weeks’ rent.  This must normally be paid before you can move into your property, together with the first month’s rent.

Tenants are now protected by the Tenant Fees Bill 2019.  This legislation is very prescriptive in what tenants can be charged for.  In a nutshell, tenants can be charged for the following items:

  • Holding deposit (paid to reserve a property but refunded from the first month’s rent). This is restricted to a maximum of 1 week’s rent.
  • Tenancy Deposit. This must be held by an approved scheme and is restricted to 5 weeks’ rent.
  • Utility bills can be charged at cost or may be included in the rent. Please check what is and is not included with each property.

There are certain other costs, but these are strictly restricted.  Tenants cannot be charged for referencing, inventories, administration fees, insurance, etc.  Even the amount that can be charged for items such as lost keys and changes to the tenancy agreement is restricted.

Like most agencies, Southgate Estates use an external referencing company to check the suitability of tenants.  This will inevitably include a credit check, some background checks, references from your previous landlords and an employment reference.

Before making an application for a rental property and paying your holding deposit, please discuss any concerns with our rental team, who will be more than happy to help.  If you are short on income or have an expired county court judgment, please discuss it with us before applying.  We will be more accommodating if issues are declared before they are discovered during referencing.

Generally speaking, agents will usually start to market rental properties between one and two months prior to them becoming available.  It would be normal to start your search around six weeks before you are looking to move in.

Student properties are often tenanted much earlier.  They tend to follow a different pattern in each town or city.  In Exeter, the student houses are often signed up in October or November of the previous academic year.


We understand that there will be occasions when landlords need to move back into their properties or sell them.  If you know that this situation is likely to arise, please talk to us at the earliest opportunity so that we can work with you and the tenants to bring the tenancy to a satisfactory conclusion.

Firstly, you cannot give notice in the first four months of an assured shorthold tenancy or whilst the tenancy is in a fixed term.  If the tenancy has moved into its periodic stage, you will generally be required to give your tenants a minimum of 2 months’ notice.  Please consider that tenants often appreciate as much notice as possible so they can start to plan their move.

If you are considering giving notice, please contact us at least one week before the notice needs to be served so that we have plenty of time to prepare the notice and serve it correctly.

Circumstances can easily change for any of our tenants. In the event that a tenant cannot meet their contractual obligations to pay their rent, we generally look to arrive at a satisfactory solution.  Sometimes, this includes a payment plan, and on some occasions, the tenants may need to surrender the tenancy and move elsewhere.  In any case, options would always be discussed with the landlord.

Yes, but not in the initial fixed term.  Any rent increases must be in line with market value.

It is worth considering that small increases in the rent can often lead to tenants looking to move on.  Please carefully consider that even a small void period and the cost of re-tenanting the property can easily outweigh a small rent increase.

Generally yes.  If you have preferred contractors, please tell us, and we will look to use them whenever possible.

However, if we need to act quickly and cannot get through to you to discuss options, for instance, if the heating fails or a pipe bursts, it may be necessary for our staff to act out of necessity. All of the contractors we use are carefully chosen by our agency staff based on our previous experiences with them.

Rental payments are usually processed within 2 working days, but please allow up to 5 working days on odd occasions.

We genuinely hope never to be disappointed with our observations at an inspection, but inevitably, issues will sometimes arise during routine visits.  If we are concerned that a property is not being looked after or used correctly, we will put a plan in place to deal with this.  In extreme cases, we may look to serve notice on the tenants, but in most cases, careful management and monitoring will usually be sufficient to bring matters back under control.

Unlike some agencies, Southgate Estates believe that the best approach is for our standard tenancies to start off with a fixed 6-month or 12-month fixed term, then automatically move onto a rolling contractual arrangement, whereby the tenancy can be terminated by one month’s notice from the tenants or two months notice from the landlord. This provides flexibility for both the landlord and the tenant and avoids additional landlord charges for unnecessarily renewing fixed-term tenancies.

Student properties are usually managed on 11-month fixed-term contracts.

We completely understand the importance of keeping an eye on the properties we manage, so regular inspections are a core part of the service we provide.  On typical tenancies, we usually look to inspect after one month, after which we will decide on how often visits are appropriate.  On a typical property, we might visit at the end of the first month, then at 6-month intervals.  If we have any concerns that more regular visits may be appropriate, then we may look to return more regularly.

All our fees are detailed in our terms of business.

In a nutshell, you will usually be charged a set-up fee to cover the advertising costs, for referencing, and for the inventory and check-out report.  During the tenancy, you will be charged a commission fee on the rent every time rent is paid.

If comparing agencies, watch out for additional charges for items such as routine inspections, arranging maintenance and uplifts on maintenance costs, etc.

This will vary from city to city.  There tends to be a pattern for each university, so this will need to be researched carefully.  You generally want to be advertising towards the beginning of the cycle to attract the best students.

In Exeter, the pattern has sadly moved forward over the years.  Whereas it was normal for the rental cycle to kick off in January, the date at which most properties are advertised has now moved forward to the previous November (or even October with some of the less reputable agencies).

Whilst it is desirable for landlords to have their properties rented earlier, advertising student properties too close to the start of the academic year can cause issues for students, some of whom probably will not have formed long-term friendships at this point in their first year of study.

For typical private rentals, we suggest advertising around 4 weeks prior to your desired start date of the tenancy.

This is something we will help you with.

Our general advice is that it is usually not a good idea to advertise the property at an excessively high or low price.  Advertising at a low price will mean that you are inundated with inquiries, whereas advertising at a high price often results in very few applications.

If the property is over-priced, it is likely to attract tenants who cannot secure other properties.  We often find that where landlords push for the maximum rent, virtually all of the applicants would not usually be recommended to our landlords.  Excessively high rent levels often result in the tenants staying for a shorter period of time.

Using a tenant find-only service can be a good idea if you want to be hands-on with your property.  We advise clients using this service to ensure that they are familiar with all the appropriate legislation.

If using a tenant-find service, you will need to collect the rent yourself, ensure the property is being looked after appropriately, and you will need to handle the end-of-tenancy procedures.  We often find that clients who initially use a tenant-find package will transfer to a managed package with subsequent tenants.

This question gets asked regularly and is often misunderstood within the industry.  Technically, listed buildings do not need to meet the requirements of an EPC, but only if it would be prohibitively expensive to achieve the requirements.

The catch is that to prove that you don’t need an EPC, then you need to have the property inspected and assessed by a professional.  The simplest way to satisfy this is to commission an EPC.  If the property does not meet the required criteria, then an exemption can be applied for.

If you breach the rules around EPCs, it could have serious implications if you need to evict your tenants via a court order at a later date.  For the equivalent cost of £8.50 per year, it is simply not worth compromising.

At the point of advertising, you will need a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your property.  At the time of writing, these cost around £85, and we will happily organise this for you as part of our service.  They last for ten years.  The minimum requirement (at the time of writing) is that all rental properties must achieve a score of E or above.

There are now fairly strict rules about the standards that need to be met by rental properties.  The Homes (Fit for human habitation) Act 2018 now applies to all privately rented properties in England, and landlords must comply.

Guide for landlords: Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 – GOV.UK (

Essentially, your home must be safe, and the requirements are generally common sense.  As a bare minimum, you will need an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) to be commissioned every five years and a gas safety certificate every year for every gas appliance in the property.

As well as meeting the above requirements, we suggest that you give some thought as to whether your property will make a good rental.  Some properties, particularly older properties, may require regular maintenance and upkeep, which could mean they are not ideal to be rented out.  As a landlord, you will not want to be sending in contractors every week to sort out building issues, etc.

If you would like any advice about the suitability of your home, please give us a call to discuss its suitability at an early stage.  We’re more than happy to pop out to give our professional opinion, along with an appraisal of the likely rental value.