1. How do I arrange a viewing and what to expect?
If you have seen a property on our website you can either email us at email@example.com via our contact us page with your requirements and details and which property you would like to view. Alternatively please give us a call on 01273 911213. Once we have your details we will give you a call and go through your requirements to double check that the particular property you wish to view is suitable, for example location, is this near a school your child/children go to or a particular school you would like them to go to, local transport links, is it suitable for my cat or dog, does it have adequate outside space, is it assessable for anyone who is disabled and is there somewhere to park a car or is it permit parking. There are so many different factors to take into consideration and it is important to us that we know exactly what you need. There is nothing worse moving into a property and then having to move again because you was unhappy about a certain aspect of it. Once we have established that this is the property for you to see we will then arrange a day and time that is suitable for you. For security details we always ask for contact telephone number, email address and also home address. Once we have loaded your details onto our system this will also email and text you your appointment so you have a record of this and our contact telephone number just in case you need to rearrange. We always accompany viewings so a member of Westbeach Properties will usually meet you outside the property. If for whatever reason you do need to cancel we do ask if you can please let us know by telephone or email so as we are not just waiting there and if we cannot make the appointment or the property is no longer available we would let you know as soon as possible.
2. How can I trust Westbeach Properties to get me the right Purchaser or tenant for my property?
Kim at Westbeach Properties has had overall 20 years’ experience with sales and lettings in the Brighton and Hove area and has good local knowledge of the city and surrounding areas. Communication is the most important thing from keeping our vendors and landlords up to date, say for any feedback on viewings through to liaising with purchasers and solicitors throughout the sales process. Once a purchaser has been found for a property we get them to talk to a financial advisor we recommend so they can have a chat to him and check that they do have the funds in place. They can of course use their own advisors but this gives reassurance to a vendor that these buyers are genuine and can afford the offer they had submitted.
In regards to tenants being found, we check through with them their affordability and they are then referenced with a company called Rent4Sure. Not only do they check for income, employers and previous landlord references but also passport and even bank verification. Once all references, checks and cleared funds have been received only then a tenant can move into a property. There is also a landlords insurance which can be done through Rent4sure, this gives a landlord peace of mind, cover for any rent arrears and legal expenses should you have to go through court to gain possession of your property. Everybody needs to provide id and a copy of this is kept on file for money laundering.
3. When and how do I make my payment(s)?
When taking payments for rents, holiday lets and deposits etc. there are several ways this can be done. The most easiest and convenient for people is via our Worldpay machine which can take debit and credit card (please bear in mind there is a charge for credit card payments but not debit card). Once this has been processed we will log this onto our system and will generate a receipt for you which you will get given along with the receipt you get from the Worldpay machine. Please note that your card details are not shared with anyone else as this is treated as confidential. When the payment goes through this will take 3 days to hit our bank account. Alternatively it is common to pay via bank transfer, we will give you our bank details to do this through your own bank either with your high street branch or online banking. You do have to allow up to 5 working days but this usually can be quicker than that and if it is a Natwest bank this can be the same day. When paying rent due or putting a deposit down you have to bear in mind the timings of when it hits the bank. If people want to pay by cash this is obviously cleared funds. When guests make a booking with us in order to secure the accommodation they need to pay the security deposit plus 25% of the cost of your holiday up front. Then 28 days before you they are due to arrive they will need to pay the balance of the remaining cost of the accommodation.
1. What do my fees include?
We will prepare full details and photos that will be given to prospective tenants, on our website, shop window, social media, Latest Homes, on the market and Zoopla portals. We will attend viewings. We are happy to help arrange EPC’s if needed along with gas safety and electrical test reports (at a separate charge to contractors). We reference all our tenants along with passport verification, employers and previous landlord references. Once move in date is agreed we prepare all documentation such as the tenancy agreement we also give out to the tenants condensation/mould leaflet, gas certificates, standing order mandates for the next rent that is due, inventory (which we can prepare beforehand no charge for our fully managed properties) and notify the utility companies of the new tenants with meter readings. We also arrange for the deposit to be held with the DPS and the tenants are given a certificate and information regarding their deposit. Landlords also receive monthly statements and with our software we can generate reports for them to pass onto their accountants. Liaising with all contractors and management for your property throughout the tenancy. Tenants call us first with our fully managed properties and we try to get any problems resolved first. If it requires a contractor we can shop around for getting the best quotes first and put this forward to the landlord before go ahead be it a small or larger job. We always take copies of all the keys we give to the tenants and keep a record on file. Tenants also have 7 days to go through the inventory to sign and return back to us so we keep this copy on file. With all our fully managed properties we do a quarterly inspection and report back to our landlords once this is done. We liaise with all tenants 2 months before their tenancy is due for renewal but first of all we check with the landlords first to see that they are happy for the tenants to renew or if they are wanting them to leave. If happy for tenants to renew we write to them first and either arrange a new Tenancy Agreement or if agreed a tenancy to fall into periodic. If a landlord is not wanting to renew the tenancy then a Section 21 will need to be served to them and we arrange for this to be hand delivered. We will start to remarket the property for new tenants and keep the landlord updated with anyone who is interested and suitable.
1. What do my fees include?
When instructed to go on the market with Westbeach Properties we will do an appraisal of your property which includes all photos, full description and our computer software will generate property brochures and window cards that can be seen in our window. We can also attach onto the software all floorplans and EPC’s for customers to see. For sale boards are also a good form of advertising when people are searching in specific areas. This also gets downloaded onto our website and other portals we use such as Zoopla, Prime Location and On The Market. We advertise regularly with Latest Homes magazine which is a free and is Brighton’s longest established and most read FREE WEEKLY publication and has a combined readership of 100,000. Distribution 10,000 copies weekly (7,000 copies in August & December). It is available to pick up from over 800 high profile outlets across a 15 mile radius of the city, Brighton and Hove train stations, Churchill Square, Brighton Marina, many local newsagents, cafes & bars, restaurants, hotels, local businesses and estate agents. Also distributed in Lewes and Worthing. The publication is also available online, via mobile phones/tablets and social media with over 60,000 followers. We also advertise our properties on social media Facebook and Twitter.
When it comes to viewings we always accompany and some clients prefer open house events which can increase the opportunity of getting over the asking price. Once people have viewed on an open day they are given a timescale to get their best offers put in by a certain cut off and all offers are vetted by mortgage advisors we know to verify their affordability but purchasers are not committed to use them. As a rule in Estate Agency when offers are put forward people have to be in a position to proceed and if they have got their mortgage in principle this can be checked out with their own mortgage advisor, banks or building societies. When offers are made we also check out the chains that might be involved by calling the Estate Agents that are connected to these. Within our software we use we input all the solicitors’ details that are instructed and Sales of Memorandums are generated. We keep all our vendors and purchasers up to date throughout the process as we believe communication is the key.
1. What are the fees and what is included for letting my property as a Holiday Let?
Our fees can start at 12% ranging up to 15% to manage the property for you and find the guests. This price excludes laundry and any consumables such as cleaning products you may want to have for your guests. We can give you suggestions on laundry and cleaning services in Brighton & Hove to use if needed.
You can use our services as a one off and we don’t hold people to contracts. You can also manage your property on Airbnb yourself and we are happy to help fill in the gaps for you.
Before we start to market your property we prepare the property details with photos and as much information about the property and compile all of this onto our software. It is also important to give the guests the facilities in the immediate area and transport information. We also can compile an inventory on the property as well. We advertise with Airbnb, Tripadvisor, through our own website, shop window, social media, Zoopla, Prime Location for the London market and VisitBrighton website. We also advertise in a Chinese tourist magazine and website in China as it is getting more popular every year for them to visit Brighton and Hove. When guests make enquiries we prefer to speak to them direct to make sure that the property they have seen is the right accommodation for them. We do checks such as guest scan, passport verification and all their details. We ask if they are on social media so photos can be checked against their passport details. We always liaise with the owners of the properties before booking that they are happy with dates, payments and how many guests are staying. We take holding deposits as well which can vary between £250 to £500 depending on the size of the property and this gets held in our client’s deposit account. Guests will receive a booking form regarding their stay and we get them to sign our T&C’s which is kept on file. We liaise with the guests check in times and meet them at the property. At the property they will be shown the pack that we leave for their information which gives them all the emergency numbers needed, gas safety and electrical reports, a copy of the inventory, local tourist maps and information, Wi-Fi passwords and a customer feedback sheet. The guests can call us in office hours or pop into our office with any queries they may have during their stay and given an emergency number out of office hours as well. Guests will be informed of check out time where we will go to meet them to collect keys and go through the inventory to make sure that everything is in order from when they first stayed. It is written in our T&C’s guests sign before their stay that any damages or additional cleaning can be deducted out of their deposit.
2. Do I need to empty my property of all of my belongings
You can leave your belongings there as this can make guests feel at home but personal possessions should be put somewhere else. Some people have other options for storage but what might be easier if there is a spare room or storage that can be locked away is recommend. For example if there is a 3 bedroom property then one of the bedrooms can be used for your own personal possessions to be locked away and the property is marketed as a two bedroom. Some people have loft space and put a lock on it. When we manage your property we always hold a set of keys and the room or loft area that is locked as well in case of emergency. Recently Westbeach managed an apartment in Hove and the owner left some of his books, cd’s, dvd’s and even board games for his guests rather than worrying packing everything away it is nice for the guests to have all this to hand and makes it home from home. We would recommend that any antiques, anything that has a sentimental value to you or say expensive pictures should be either put or stored away. If this is a second home this will be equipped with all the furnishings a guest will need during their stay and it is a nice touch to add a few books and magazines for guests to read during their stay.
3. What are the check in and check out times?
At Westbeach Properties we recommend as a guide 3 pm check in and 11 am as a check out but this can be flexible. The reason why we suggest an 11 am checkout in case the property has to be turned around which means in general a light clean and changing of the bedding and towels and that is why we suggest a 3 pm check in to give enough time. Majority of guests will check in around the 3 pm time but some need more flexibility especially if they are coming from the airport or train station where delays can happen. We do stipulate that there is an additional charge of £25 if check in takes place after the office hours of 5.30 pm up to the time of 9 pm. We have helped guests where we meet at the railway station with keys when they are wanting to check in when they are ready and want to go somewhere in the city before.
4. How much can I earn from a Holiday Let?
This depends on the property location and number of different variables. If you book a free valuation we will go through with you exactly how much you can earn at different seasons of the year along with weekend rates and any discounts that help to encourage guests to book. For example a one bedroom can start at £80 – £90 per night and at a weekend can be more £100 – £125 per night. We usually calculate from Sunday to Thursday is at the cheaper rate say £90 per night x 5 nights comes to £450 and Friday and Saturday nights people pay the higher rate of say £125 per night x 2 comes to £250 giving a total of £700. To make it more attractive for guests it is good to have a mid-week discount say 10% or 20%, so say 10% based on the midweek price of £450 minus £45 comes to £405 giving a total of £655. To be more accurate on price we would need to come and have a look because there are many factors that the prices can change and this can range for the facilities the property may offer, location, car parking or any special features that guests can use during their stay.
5. What kind of guests will I have?
You can specify your guest requirements before marketing and we always double check before they book that they are suitable and that the property is the right holiday let for them. We find it important to try to speak to them over the telephone and get a feel of what they are looking for rather than just emailing but it all depends if they are abroad and time differences etc. This is your property and you will know what guests you would prefer. Most owners are happy with couples, families, friends but it is not for everybody or the property not suitable for larger party of people for example stag and hen parties. The stag and hen parties are very popular here in Brighton and Hove but not all properties can accommodate this plus to be aware of more foot traffic, more wear and tear and noise factor this will bring and very important that the local residents are informed this is something are wanting to do. Some owners may not want children or they specify over the age of 12+, but it all depends if the property is suitable or not. Another thing to maybe consider is people wanting to bring their dogs on vacation as they are part of the family also being so close to the beach and parks is ideal for dog walkers. It opens the doors up to more guests wanting to stay and a bigger deposit will be required for this which dog owners expect to pay. To check guest we do use guest scan which would flag up any problem guests that have been reported by other agencies, guest houses and hotels. Before any booking we will talk to you first about the guests wanting to stay and its only booked once you have agreed to this. All guests must sign our Terms and Conditions and will receive a booking form.
6. What happens if guests have questions during their stay?
They can call or email us about the property within office hours but for out of hours they will have Kim White’s personal mobile as well. We aim to answer calls as soon as possible and reply back to emails as well. Majority of guests that have stayed with us pop into the office or call the mobile number. We also have a security company based in Brighton that guests will be given details of just in case they are in need of any help out of hours. This security company can also be called out by the local residents if there is any noise disturbances from the guests as well, a call out fee will apply and deducted out of the guest’s deposit.
7. Does Westbeach properties clean the property?
We have a number of contract cleaners that can do a high quality clean after guests leave this can be up to 2 hours which works out at approx. £15 per hour. Guests can have mid-week cleans but they would pay for this service. Some owners ask for £35 – £45 cleaning fee and some include this within the price. If you ask for an additional cleaning fee we can either put this towards the professional cleaning company we recommend or pass this onto you or a cleaner that you may use yourself. When it comes to laundry service there are companies that will provide this service for you such as Jon’s launderette minimum charge is £17 so linen/sheets £2.80 pillow cases £1.40 free collection and delivery. Alternatively there is a company in Brighton called ‘That cleaning Company’ and rather than you paying out for new bedding such as sheets duvets etc. they will provide all of these plus the towels. So to give you an example a single bed to pick up and collect is £10 and a double is £12 and this includes the bath and hand towels plus bath mat. This is a good service so that when they go into to clean to turn the property around your bedding is also getting changed as well. The cleaning fee of £35-45 will cover a turnaround clean because cleaners will need to be there a minimum of 2 hours at £15 per hour, but if there is any more additional clean say guests have left the oven worse than it was before they stayed then the additional charge will come out of their deposit.
8. Before I market my property as a Holiday Let what do I need to have in place?
The same applies to a normal Assured Shorthold Let like the annual Gas Safety Certificate, Electrical Test Reports, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detector plus more. Because you have paying guests stay in your property it is most important you have set up the holiday let insurance which a few companies provide. Apart from the usual insurance this will cover contents, malicious damage caused by a guest and most important the public liability in case a guest wanted to sue or if anything goes wrong while they stay in your property so for example they trip up on something and cause damage to themselves. If you are wanting any advice on which companies to use please ask us and we are happy to give you their details and telephone numbers.
Also to have in place is a fire risk assessment and these can be done but advisable to have this done by somebody who is qualified to do this. This will come backed up to certify this has been done professionally to show your guests plus if anything did go wrong there is come back as well. There was an incident recently in Brighton where guests fell from a balcony that should not have been used and there should have been a risk assessment to say that this is not to be used as was unsafe to stand on. Also a fire officer can advise you about fire extinguishers and fire blankets and also point out if there are any hazards you need to be aware of.
9. Will Westbeach properties manage the claim process for me?
We take a security deposit that is held in our deposit account. Once check out is done and everything has been checked over, should any damage, further cleaning or missing items occur during their stay we will inform the guest(s) of this against the inventory and calculate the cost of repair or replacement or cleaning bill which will be taken from the deposit. All this information is on the guests T&C’s which they sign before they arrive. If there is anything more than this then they holiday let policy should cover this say for example malicious damage but they would have to be notified of this as soon as possible to have a claim. We will inform you after they leave and be documented.