ASK THE EXPERTS
Nicola Merry, head of lettings at Kay & Co, on the benefits of renting from an Estate
Interview: Ellie Costigan
Kay & Co is one of the three local agencies used by The Howard de Walden Estate to find tenants for its properties. What is a lettings agent’s role as a mediator between the Estate and the tenant?
We promote the Estate’s properties, and when tenants enquire to us, we will match their requirements with a property. We’ll also show them around Marylebone and point out its attractions. Our role is to make sure tenants really understand the process—what’s required on the referencing front, prepping them in terms of affordability, and offering general advice. The Estate relies on us to match up the tenants to properties as best we can. We will do everything up until the point of moving in, which is when the Estate will take over, in terms of management. They always make sure to meet their tenants face to face when they move in.
How does the presence of the two Marylebone Estates—The Howard de Walden Estate and The Portman Estate—affect people who are looking for properties?
The choice of rental properties is really good. Because of the size of the Estates, there is generally plenty of rental availability in the area—certainly much more so than properties for sale. This means that renting is a good option if you are thinking of buying but want to try the area out first. It gives you that breathing space. It’s efficient, too. Often, you can make an offer and be in the property within a few days.
What are the main benefits of renting from an Estate?
Knowing you have a company behind you with so many residential properties, who know what they’re doing, is a huge comfort. This isn’t Joe Bloggs, based in Australia trying to manage the property themselves—they are experienced, having been established for hundreds of years, and they are on call 24-seven, 365 days a year. They’re fully geared up to deal with anything you might need, with departments that deal with everything from maintenance, to accounts. The security of it is one of the biggest advantages: they’re here for the long haul, so they’re going to look after you, deal with any issues in a flash, and in the eventuality that you do need to move, the likelihood is there’ll be another suitable property within the area.
Looking long-term, it’s a comfort to know you’ll have that continuity, with a landlord you know and trust. There’s also the lifestyle aspect to living in the area. In Marylebone, the Estates make a real effort to nurture the community spirit—things like the Marylebone Summer Festival, the Christmas Lights. It’s a safe area, with amazing schools, great transport links, and green space on your doorstep. It’s convenient, and because of that it appeals to everyone from single professionals, to families.
What is the market like at the moment?
Stock levels have remained stable, pricing hasn’t drastically altered and many of the properties have recently been refurbished—to know you’re the first people who are going to be using that washing machine or dish washer, say, is a lovely perk. Every time a tenant moves out, the Estate will check to see if there is any dilapidation, touch up the paintwork, change or steam the carpets if they’re badly worn or stained—they keep them at a very high standard. They are constantly investing in their properties. It really sets them apart.