THIS week's timely advice to landlords from the letting experts at Hamptons Inter-national: "Now is not the time for complacency. If you intend to attract high calibre tenants who will pay their rent on time and return the property in good order at the end of the tenancy, ensure that it is well maintained and presented in first class condition from the outset."

The agents go on: "A recently decorated property with a modern kitchen and bathroom, tidy garden, A4 folder complete with appliance manuals and up-to-date gas and electrical safety certificates will always let well. Add to that a thorough professional clean, and instruct your letting agent to undertake the ongoing management of the property, and you are sure to have a steady stream of interested parties to choose from."

And Hamptons' advice to tenants is move fast.

"With increasing competition from other tenants and fewer new properties coming onto the market, it's important to remember that the 'perfect property' probably doesn't exist. Be clear on the major motivation for your move and on the three most important features of your new home, advise your letting agent accordingly and then be prepared to compromise. Make yourself available for viewings as soon as you are advised about a new instruction, and if a property meets 70 per cent or more of your initial requirements be prepared to move fast and secure it. That means having your first month's rent, six-week deposit and referee details ready. The majority of tenancies that fall through do so because of administrative hold-ups. Don't be tempted to order your change of address stationery until the agent confirms the paperwork is complete."