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  • Technology

    Should you self-manage your BTL properties?

    Welcome to the start of an exciting new themed week on Property Tribes - "Self Managing Landlords" Week 2017 - powered by Upad.

    All this week, Upad will be providing exclusive content to assist and support the self-managing landlord.

    Running order:

    Tuesday -      Conducting viewings

    Wednesday - Most common landlord/ tenant complaints

    Thursday -     HMO Management

    Friday -          Setting up a tenancy - Legal Guide

    This is the first article of our Self-Management series. Over the following days, we’ll be taking a look at all the aspects of self-management as a landlord to consider before you take the plunge.

    As a landlord, one of your biggest expenses (after mortgage payments or loans) is likely to be agency fees.

    Whilst you can find good deals on tenant find fees, management fees are where you may feel the sting.

    By self-managing, you could save yourself thousands of pounds and increase your profit, which may be of particular relevance to landlords affected by Section 24.  

    But before making the decision to self-manage, let’s look at some of the areas of consideration;


    This is a big one because if you’re working a full-time job with long hours, you’re not necessarily going to have the time to manage a property.

    Having said that, if you are contactable by phone or email and have a list of tradesmen, including emergency callouts, it’s still workable. However, if you live abroad and a different time zone, it’s not going to be practical to self-manage.


    Similar to the above, if you live a long distance from the property it may not be practical to self-manage. But again, if you are able to find reliable tradespeople for repair jobs and can make a trip every 3-6 months for inspections then this doesn’t need to be an issue.


    You’ll most likely only be contacted when something breaks down or needs repairing. The most common issues will be with water, electricity and appliances.

    Consider investing in a good quality boiler and white goods, preferably with a warranty, to avoid facing a big bill.

    Once a tenant reports an issue you should aim to respond within 24 hours and follow up in writing, make sure to take action within 14 days of the initial report too.

    Viewings and inspections

    Viewings can be tricky if you live a distance from the property but you could consider holding a block viewing on a weekend to cut down on time, or enlist the help of a trusted family member, friend or neighbour to show people round.

    Inspections should be carried out every 3-6 months (you can leave longer between inspections after the initial visit if there are no issues).

    There is lots of guidance on how to conduct viewings and inspections yourself.

    Dealing face-to-face

    If you’re not so much of a ‘people person’ then dealing with tenants directly may not be for you. However, Upad research shows 84% of tenants want to meet their landlords face-to-face and 60% would prefer the landlord to manage the property rather than an agent, so it’s worth considering overcoming this small obstacle!

    As long as it remains professional and not overly-friendly, it can help for a tenant to see a landlord on a more personal level, rather than just someone they make a payment too.

    BDRC research also shows that landlords who used our services (self-managed landlords) experienced 45% less rent arrears than the UK average, which shows the huge advantage of a tenant being in direct contact with their landlord.

    Legal duties

    You must be prepared to comply with your legal landlord duties, which include deposit protection, providing a copy of the EPC, a copy of the gas safety certificate, Right to Rent checks, installing working smoke and CO alarms and providing the How to Rent guide.

    You’ll also need to provide a written tenancy agreement and organise an inventory inspection.

    Don’t be tempted to save more money by half-heartedly doing any of the above, if you’re unsure then paying a little extra for a professional and compliant service will save you in the long run.

    Online agents

    If you think you could self-manage your buy-to-let but need access to advertising services, paperwork and deposit protection, you could consider using an online letting agent, like Upad!

    You are charged an up-front fee to advertise your property and find tenants via the major property portals, with additional help and support if needed, and you can even include services such as tenant referencing, tenancy agreements and deposit protection.


    In the face of an 8-12% management fee, you can expect to be paying out thousands for an agent to manage your property. Cut out the middle man and arrange your own viewings, inspections and repairs and you could make significant savings.

    Want to see how much you could save by self-managing? Try this free calculator https://www.upad.co.uk/calculator 

    Quick pros/ cons overview


    Thousands in savings

    Better relationship with your tenant

    Better rates on repairs as no commission added

    Less likely to experience rent arrears

    Meet tenants face-to-face rather than relying on an agent’s opinion


    Not practical if you live abroad or a long distance from the property

    Not suitable if you work long hours

    Not for landlords who don’t like dealing with tenants directly.

    Find out how John Socha uses Upad to self-manage his property portfolio in this video:

    What are the PT communities’ thoughts? Do you self-manage or does a letting agent manage on your behalf?

    We invite you to tune in to Property Tribes every day this week for this exclusive content and event, powered by Upad.  Watch out for videos, case studies, and much more!

    VISIT THE UPAD WEBSITE or call the team on 0333 240 1220 to find out more about how they support self-managing landlords.

    Want to see how much you could save by self-managing? Try this free calculator https://www.upad.co.uk/calculator 

    *Transparency notice: Upad is a commercial partner of Property Tribes.

    Upad has the following professional memberships and credentials:

    SEE ALSO  -          Hmmmm! Self managing vs. fully managed .... a different view?

    UP NEXT -              Self managing or using a letting agent

    DON'T MISS -         Directory of all Property Tribes' free guides



    Yes, I'd definitely recommend small Landlords self manage. Certainly the most straight forward way to cut costs whilst restructuring for S24.

    I use OpenRent https://www.propertytribes.com/anyone-us...-8405.html for my advertising; tenant and guarantor referencing; AST drafting, deposit handling; EPCs and LL / tenant starter packs. Can't recommend them highly enough.

    I think businesses like OpenRent and Upad will do very well out of S24. Good for them.



    "Change is a prerequisite to longterm survival".

    The establishment is rigged so that the rich stay very rich, and the poor get poorer.

    I'm surprised that Upad don't build up a LL  database that would be prepared to represent them to other LL.

    What better than for a LL  to show properties etc for other LL.


    No idea.

    OpenRent always seem to have a good stream of recommendations from LLs. Various threads running here on PT verifying their service over time.

    For the sake of transparency, I'm not being paid by OpenRent (although I'd happily accept payment).



    "Change is a prerequisite to longterm survival".

    The establishment is rigged so that the rich stay very rich, and the poor get poorer.

    Paul, do you literally mean a list of landlords that would conduct viewings for other landlords if they used Upad? It's an interesting idea.

    I've used Upad for a couple of years now and have been very happy with the results.


    Yes I was just thinking that Upad could expand its business  model if it employed LL who are prepared to manage Upad business

    Cheaper than Upad opening High St offices.

    I suppose like a Upad Consultant.

    LL  with available  time would like the part time income


    I don't know. I guess it depends on whether you like bacon and lettuce and tomato...


    Thanks for all the comments, tomorrow's article will explain why we believe that holding viewings personally leads to finding better quality tenants. James Davis, CEO and Founder of Upad, is a huge advocate of meeting tenants face-to-face!


    We self manage most of our HMOs and use spareroom to find tenants, and our market is young professionals.  Our self-managed HMOs have less turnover, less repairs, and higher rents than those that we've used agents for.  A few possible reasons.

      1) Getting a socially cohesive group is important.  For example, if the house is mainly young professionals just out of uni, then it's important to get other tenants in same age group.    If people all work normal hours, then don't add a shift worker, etc...     I think that agents, who deal with much large volumes of people, can't do this kind of granular social engineering very well, even if they want to.   Having a cohesive group also means they take better care of the house.    I recently visited one of my HMOs that is managed by an agent (it is far from my home) and found tenants varying from a woman in late 30s who manages cleaning in a smal hotel (so works odd hours) and a PhD research scientist mid 20s.  These people have nothing in common and the house has no social cohesion.  I

    2) Tenants are happy to pay more if they feel that the group they are joining will be fun to live with.

    3) Tenants are happy to pay more if they feel that the landlords are trustworthy.  They don't really trust agents that much.    

    We enjoy the interaction with tenants as well, but would be happy to outsource these things if we could find someone who could do it well.