There are a lot of important things to consider when you want to let out your property. Things that range from best practices to legal requirements.
A good estate agent or letting agent will ensure you have all avenues covered, but we’ve put together a small overview of some of the things a landlord will need to do before they can rent out their property.
1. Do your research
Getting to know the current market is the all important first step to letting out your property. Look at similar homes to yours in the same area, and note down how much they are being rented out for each month. It’ll give you a good idea of the ‘going-rate’, and what prospective tenants will be expecting to pay to rent your property.
Also think about who your property would be most suitable for. Young families? Students? Single professionals? A good letting agent will be able to help with advice here, and once you’ve done your homework, set a competitive price that aims to keep it filled at all times.
2. Speak to your lender
If you have a mortgage on the property, it’s essential to tell them about your plans to rent it out. Failing to tell them could mean you’re breaking the terms of your mortgage contract, and you’ll most likely need to ask their permission before you go ahead.
They’ll usually have to issue you with a consent for lease, and once you’ve got this, you can get started with renting out your house.
3. Prepare your property
There’s many things to think about before you advertise your property for rent.
Will it be furnished or unfurnished? If furnished, remember to remove your personal belongings and anything that’s perhaps too personal to your taste. Clear out anything that isn’t fit for purpose, and consider replacing anything that might be old and tired.
A blank canvas can often be more appealing to prospective tenants. Neutral colours allow them to picture themselves living in the space easily, and it’ll also be easier for you to maintain in the long term. There’s also the exterior of the house - the kerb appeal, and a nice tidy outdoor space will be more attractive to your renters.
Also think about hiring a professional cleaner to perform a deep clean. They usually scrub everything from the windows to the oven, the bathroom and even get behind radiators.
You’ll also need to make copies of any keys that a tenant may need for windows and doors. Same goes for gas and electricity meters if they have them. Dig out instruction manuals for the boiler, alarm system, cooker, and any white goods to - make copies, and let the tenant have them available as soon as they move in.
4. Sort out the insurance
It's important that your current buildings and contents insurer knows that it’s your intention to let your property. Your policy will probably need to be amended.
It’s a good idea to arrange landlord insurance, which will cover any financial losses connected with your rental property. It isn’t a legal requirement, but it will protect the building, your tenants and your investment as a wholesome policy. You’ll also get your rent paid to you if your tenant misses a payment.
5. Know your responsibilities
When you decide to rent out your property, your status changes from homeowner to landlord. And with that comes a greater responsibility.
Being a landlord is a 24/7 job, and tenants could need your support at any time of day. Many issues require immediate attention, such as a gas leak, or broken boiler for example. All repairs and maintenance, and taking care of refurbishment of the interior and exterior of the property is yours.
This responsibility can be taken care of by appointing an experienced and responsible estate or letting agent to deal with this on your behalf.
6. Learn the legal stuff
There are a lot of regulations that you need to comply with as a landlord. There are currently around 145 laws that a landlord needs to abide by when letting a property.
Things like credit and right to rent checks in line with immigration laws (in England), take and protect deposits, ensure essential paperwork is in place, and ensure the property is fit for habitation and safe for your tenant is just a small selection of legal responsibilities.
Ensuring the safety of your tenants is important too. An annual Gas Safety check is required, and it’s also a good idea to make sure all electrical appliances and wiring are tested regularly too. Your rental property should be fitted with smoke alarms on every floor and carbon monoxide detectors where necessary too.
By law, you must have an EPC (energy performance certificate) for your property, and it needs to be Band E or above. You won't be able to rent the property out unless you reach this standard and have the certificate to prove it. Once you’ve received one, they're valid for 10 years.
Tenants must also be provided with a rental information pack, content of which varies depending on whether you’re in England, Northern Ireland or Wales.
You also need to understand your financial responsibilities, and you may also need to pay Income Tax.
You can find more information about your legal responsibilities on the gov.uk website.