Ready, Set, Let!

Added on June 14th 2017

If you haven’t been a landlord before – maybe you’re moving overseas for a job or you have inherited a property – then you need to get all your ducks in a row before you start looking for tenants.

Renting out a property in the UK can be quite complex, as there’s lots of rules and regulations – old and new – so make sure you’re ready.

Here’s what you should do:

Look for a good letting agent

A decent agent can be a real boon to inexperienced landlords. They can advise on the ideal rent level, advertise the property, find the best tenants, draw up contracts and sort out all the other paperwork, as well as holding deposits and doing the inventory.

If you just want the agent to find tenants and do all the paperwork, you can expect to pay a one-off fee, but if you need them to manage the place, you can expect to pay an ongoing fee, usually 10% of the monthly rent.

Fees can vary widely, so compare at least three agents before you decide and find out things like how they deal with unpaid rent and if they have their own repairmen.

Identify your ideal tenants

A lot will depend on the size and type of your property. You also need to ask yourself if you’re happy with children and pets, smokers, two or three cars in the drive… If something is a definite dealbreaker, then make sure your agent knows about it.

Slip into neutral

Your home needs to be a blank canvas – you need to appeal to as many people as possible so you have the minimum of trouble finding tenants. Paint the walls and ceilings white (or off-white) and put down new flooring – wooden or carpet. If you’re renting your place as furnished, get rid of old, tatty or unsafe items and replace them with serviceable, sturdy and neutral pieces.

Stay legal

Your agent will be responsible for most of this, but you’ll need a Gas Safety Certificate and an Energy Performance Certificate. Your tenants will also need the governmental How to Rent guide and the deposit must go into a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. It’s also your responsibility to make sure your tenants have the right to live and work in the UK.

Your terms

A standard contract is the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, but you can change key aspects like the length of tenancy and the notice period if you need to.

Do you need an agent?

Managing a property by yourself might save you money, but it will keep you busy! If you’re overseas or not local, or you’re already busy, you’ll find the agent well worth it.

Deep clean

Get the professionals in to give the place a deep clean – you could pay as little as £100-150 for this and it sets a precedent.

Collect or download all your instruction manuals

Find them, dust them off or download them if necessary. You’ll need the manuals for your cooker, boiler, alarms, dishwasher and all other white goods. You also need to leave the right keys for the gas and electricity meters.

Understand your tax

You need to know what you’re doing here as there have been several recent changes to how much you’ll need to pay.

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