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The DIY landlord

Managing your rental property can be a time-consuming process, which is why many landlords choose to use a letting agent to oversee everything. However, there are benefits to being a DIY landlord as you can save money and have more input when choosing tenants. We take a look at what’s involved in self-managing a rental property.   

Advertising your property

Once your property is ready to let and you’ve had the necessary rental value assessment, you’ll need to decide how you plan to advertise the property. You can use a letting agent initially, on a ‘let only’ basis, to market the property for you, but you always have the option of doing this yourself. Only letting agents have access to big property websites, like RightMove and Zoopla, but you can use an online letting agent (at a small cost) to post the ad for you. This means you won’t have to enlist the full services of a letting agent. You can also run a campaign yourself by putting adverts in newspapers, on local noticeboards and using the local post office or nearby businesses to advertise your property. Organising this yourself can save you money, if done right.

Finding a tenant

Although you need to put aside some time (generally evenings and weekends) to conduct viewings and correspond with interested tenants, you have much more say and input to this part of the process. Not only can you decide who and when people can look around the property, you can ultimately choose who you rent out the property to, by doing tenant checks yourself. It’s important to do thorough tenant checks by getting ID and references from employers and previous landlords as well as using the electoral register and credit score companies to check if they are suitable.

Tenancy agreements and legal obligations

Once you’ve found a tenant, you will need to arrange the relevant legal work. You must agree with your tenant the terms of their tenancy via an Assured Shorthold Tenancy document before they move in. If you have rented to tenants before, you can use a previous agreement as a template or alternatively, get a solicitor to produce one for you (at a cost). If you’d rather do it yourself, there are free templates to use online. Commercial Trust has a useful free downloads section which includes tenancy agreement templates.


Most landlords ask tenants for a security deposit (generally worth a month’s rent) to cover against possible damage or unpaid rent. If you decide to do this, you must put the tenant’s deposit in a deposit protection scheme and let your tenant know the details of the service within 30 days. Failure to do so could see you compensating the tenant three times the amount down the line.  

Ensure your inventory is up to date and checked before your tenant moves in. This will come in useful when the tenant moves out and there are any damages. You may be able to withhold part or all of the deposit to cover the cost of repairing/refurbishing the property.

On-going DIY

During the tenancy, it will be your responsibility to carry out inspections (with the tenant’s consent) as well as keep electric and gas safety certificates up to date. If anything that you’ve provided, for example a washing machine or fridge, breaks down, it is up to you to arrange an engineer/plumber/specialist to either fix it or replace it with a new one.

For more information on the costs involved in running a buy to let property, whether you use an estate agent or not, read our article on the subject.

The alternative: using a letting agent

If you’re new to buy to let or simply don’t have the time to manage a property yourself, a letting agent can be very helpful in finding a tenant for you. If you take on their full service, an agency can also oversee the tenancy and will be the tenant’s first port of call if there is a problem. Their services, however, do come with a price tag, usually an annual fee of around 10% of the rental return. For tips on using a letting agency, check out our article on finding the right letting agent.

If you need short-term bridging finance quickly to secure a buy to let property sale, Commercial Trust can help. Contact us and one of our advisers can assess your individual situation to tailor a bridging loan to your needs.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Bridging loan rates are subject to change. Speak to our advisors for a loan illustration.