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Under the skin of the letting market

Here we share news and views on both the local letting market in & around Oxfordshire and all planned and recent legislation.


Letting Only Landlord – Experience with Finders Keepers


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Mr Curtis has been a Finders Keepers client for 12 years. He owns several properties and manages the tenancies himself (Letting Only), using Finders Keepers Student Letting to source quality tenants. Here, he talks about how to be successful as a letting only landlord:

 “I have had experience of working in property in the past, building and developing properties and so I sort of fell into being a landlord. It just made sense and it had a rental income which surpassed the interest being charged at the time.

The buy-to-let finance was very much available when I first started; 15% deposit and self-certification made it easy to borrow. I wasn’t aware of Oxford as a good place to invest initially. I was based in Staffordshire at the time and I read an article in The Sunday Times about buying to-let in university towns. I discovered Oxford, bought one and it seemed to make sense. Because I am local, and have an understanding and experience of building and developing houses, I felt I could handle most aspects of managing a rental property.

At the start I did a lot of it myself, fixing taps etc. Now, I almost work as a sort of agency for my own properties, as I have my own tradesmen who I tend to appoint for certain jobs. If I didn’t live locally or was employed elsewhere, I would probably need to employ Finders Keepers to manage my properties, but with the mobile telephone I can be anywhere and am still able to manage any issues which come up.

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Finders Keepers Student Letting does a superb job in marketing the properties and setting up the tenancies. They are very competent in negotiating with the tenants: they sort out the tenancy agreement, the deposit, parental guarantees and they collect the initial rent and deposit. I have stayed with Finders Keepers for so long because they do a very good job and the people who work there are very pleasant.

In the 12 years I’ve worked with Finders Keepers I have never had to call upon a guarantor, but it’s reassuring to know you’ve got the back up. I send a ‘welcome email’ which supplies the tenants with all the necessary paperwork (gas safety certificate etc.) and it is also an opportunity to remind them that the house has been cleaned and brought up to a satisfactory standard and that it is expected to be handed back at the same standard. One of the big issues in winter is that students don’t like using gas! So there are frequently issues with condensation etc. I tend to send out emails about winter heating and security of the house while they are away. It shows that I’m connected with the house.

I rely on the council and Finders Keepers to keep me up to date with legislative changes. For example, when EPCs were required, FKSL called me to let me know and offered to organise it all in-house. I also go to most of the Finders Keepers client events because you don’t know what you don’t know! I am selfemployed and operating on a remote site and so I go to the seminars and assimilate what is being presented. It’s also good to meet people, get ideas and associate with like minds.

Personally, I don’t see myself acquiring more properties in the near future because the amount of deposit required now is 25-30% (unlike the 15% when I fi rst started) and house prices have also increased. I am fi nding the better return is in upgrading my existing properties: I’ve just added a loft and pushed out the back of a property in Buckingham Street changing a 4-bedroom house to a 6-bed. There is a better return in that than in keeping my money in the bank at 1%.”