This week we’re shining the spotlight on Edinburgh Letting Centre. We spoke with branch owner, Miles to find out more.
Q1. Tell us a little about yourself, your business, and what kind of properties you handle
I managed my own properties before establishing Edinburgh Letting Centre in 2003. Initially we operated from Dalkeith Road office as a small, 3 person business, but we outgrew it and moved to a bigger property with a better footfall and shopfront presence in heart of Bruntsfield, Edinburgh. Our letting agency is currently a team of five. We let and manage most types of residential properties in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife, but due to our location we have a significant presence in Bruntsfield, Morningside and Marchmont. It also means that we manage a substantial number of HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupancy) properties. Due to organic growth and our location we became HMO experts – although it was not something I planned for. The only slice of residential property market we do not deal are social tenancies. Edinburgh is a multicultural city and in my opinion Edinburgh Letting Centre is one of the most diverse – if not the most diverse – letting agents in Edinburgh, our staff members speak 5 different languages. We are ARLA Propertymark members and four of us have Residential Letting and Property Management Scotland Level 6 NFOPP qualifications.
Q2. What made you get into the property business?
I started as a landlord and quickly developed a passion for properties. I liked managing residential properties so much that I decided to do it full time.
Q3. What did you do before you got into this business?
I worked in finance industry for 25 years – financial knowledge helps with dealing with mortgages and business accounts.
Q4. What is your favourite property you’ve had?
My favourite property is a flat in a 400 year old building in Middlefield, Leith – I guess 400 years ago, when it was built, it was a middle of a field! This property is a true historical monument, I could live there.
Q5. What’s the best thing about the area you operate in?
Bruntsfield is a lively neighbourhood with many cafes, restaurants, little shops, one coffee roaster, regular supermarkets. It still feels like a big city ‘village’ where people know each other. Letting properties in Bruntsfield has never been a problem. Napier University (Colinton Campus) is round the corner, the Meadows and Edinburgh University are within walking distance. Most of our tenants in Bruntsfield are either students (undergraduate, postgraduate and PHD) or university staff members and researchers. It is a very good mix of tenants.
Q6. What advice would you give to someone looking for a rental property?
The current legislation – Private Residential Tenancy – gives tenants the right to leave any property with only 28 days notice, so if you are looking for a flat for September, there is no point in looking in April, as we will not know then what would be available in early Autumn. The most popular properties, 1-2 bedroom flats, rent very quickly, so please try to attend the earliest available viewings and if you like it, apply immediately. Please remember that it is the landlord who makes the final decision, so while applying early helps, it does not guarantee that the flat will be yours. I would also be very careful when dealing with private flat advertisements – do always check if the person who advertises the property does actually own it.
Q7. How long does it usually take to fill a property?
It depends on the time of the year, size of the property, whether it is furnished or unfurnished, its location and asking price (is it realistic?). 1 bedroom furnished flat in a location with good links to the city centre and a realistic rent should be let (subject to referencing) in one week. Big, 4 bedroom house without HMO licence may take much longer to let, even 1.5 month. On the other hand, when we advertised a really nice 4 bedroom HMO flat in April this year, we received 4 good applications on the first day of viewings and we accepted one, subject to checks, after 3 days on the market.
Q8. What is your process for screening tenants?
We start by making sure that the joint gross income of all applicants is at least 30 times the rent. In other words – if the rent is £800 pm, we will ask to document an income of at least £24 000 gross per year. In case of students or tenants not earning enough, we would ask for a UK based guarantor making at least 36 times the rent gross per year. Assuming that they pass the initial check, we would then verify tenants’ accommodation references (if they have rented before), employment references (professionals or tenants with job offers) and generate credit reports (Experian, Equifax and Credit Karma provide credit checks based on records from many countries).
Q9. What would be a good night out in your area?
When we celebrate birthdays or other occasions, we go to Café Grande – although it is one of many local restaurants. Good food, friendly staff that know us, decent prices.
Q10. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and what does your dream home look like?
Silves in Portugal, in a townhouse. I have fallen in love with this Algarvian town between the coastal mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean. I love the Moorish architecture and its cultural influence felt even in XXI century. It is a place of tranquillity, where I can reset on my time off. I really admire Silves medieval castle overlooking local villages and orange fields.
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