If you are thinking of renting out your property, the first thing you are going to need to do is prepare it for potential tenants. Becoming a landlord is not as simple as putting an advert online and giving the keys to the first person who can afford to pay the rent and deposit.
You will no doubt have a lot of questions whizzing around in your mind. Questions like:
· How much can I charge?
· What legal requirements must I meet?
· What happens if things go wrong?
· What needs to be done to the property before I can rent it out?
In this article we intend to give some “rule of thumb” advice, however, please do not solely rely on this article. We strongly advise you to research your local area, the regulations and most importantly seek specific advice for your circumstances. Of course, we at Northwood are always happy to help.
Deciding Upon the Rental Fee
There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding how much rent to charge including: the area, the number of bedrooms the property has, the buoyancy of the local market, the value of the property, the condition of the property, transport links, proximity to good schools, furnished or unfurnished… all of these factors have an impact on the amount of rent you should charge. If you’re scratching your head over this we have a shortcut for you, book a Free Market Appraisal by clicking here.
Decorating and Renovating the Property
Depending on the condition of the property and the tenants you want to attract, you may need to consider decorating and/or renovating the property. Not every property will require renovations but there are a few points to consider:
· A fresh coat of paint throughout will give potential tenants a blank canvass.
· You will need to make sure that any problem areas such as damp, mould or mildew are taken care of.
· Have appliances checked such as ovens and fires to ensure they are up to standard and are safe to use.
· Areas like bathrooms and kitchens also need special attention as these can often be a strong selling points for tenants.
· Is the property in good repair and secure?
If you have a trusted agent like Northwood helping you, they will be able to give you an objective view on the work that will need to be done to the property and they will be able to recommend reliable and trusted local tradesmen that can carry out the work for you.
Furnished vs Unfurnished
You’ll need to decide whether you are going to provide your rental property unfurnished, partially furnished or fully furnished. This will depend on the type of tenant you are hoping to attract. Students, for example, will most likely need furniture provided for them, a family moving into a house may have all their own furnishings, whereas first time renters may need a partially furnished property. Deciding which sort of tenant, you are looking to attract will depend on your circumstances, the property and its location, for example, an apartment in a bustling city centre is far more likely to attract a professional tenant, whereas a house with a large garden will undoubtedly attract a family.
Finding a Tenant
With the popularity of online portals such as Right Move and Zoopla you can be forgiven for thinking that marketing your property will be easy. However, there is a little more to it all, a picture paints a thousand words so complimentary photography that shows your property in its best light is a must. Accurate descriptions and research into points that are important to potential tenants are also vitally important.
DIY or Letting Agent
Who looks after your rental property is going to be a big consideration. The DIY approach does take a lot of work, probably much more than you think. For example, are you able to respond to maintenance issues? What will you do if your tenant falls behind in their payments or worse doesn’t pay at all? Handing over the property management to a letting agent can save a lot of stress and most agents will have different letting service options.
When preparing your property to rent, it is a good idea to understand landlord responsibilities as this will have a bearing on what needs to be done. Here are a few pointers to consider:
· Check whether your local council operates a registration scheme which is designed to maintain standards. This is mandatory in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland and is becoming increasingly common in England.
· As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to keep your rental property safe and fit to inhabit. That includes things like ensuring that all gas equipment and appliances are safe to use and are installed correctly. This is an annual requirement and a copy of the safety certificate must be provided to the tenant. Here are a few other things to consider:
· You will need to have an Energy Performance Certificate for your property, in Scotland this must be displayed in the property.
· Once you have a tenant, you will need to keep their deposit in a government-approved scheme to protect it.
· As a landlord you also have the responsibility of checking that your tenant has the right to rent your property, so checks will need to be carried out.
· You will need to ensure the property fire safety is up to standard and have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installed in the property.
· An electrical safety inspection may be required.
· Tenancy agreement – now more complex than ever, it is vital your rental agreement reflects your requirements and protects you and your tenant’s interests.
· You will need to (depending on the agreement you have) inform or seek permission from your mortgage provider before renting out the property. You will also need specialist landlord insurance instead of your standard home insurance.
These are just a few of the new responsibilities you take on as a new landlord. Don’t worry, it is not as daunting as it looks on first appearance. If you need assistance with these and any aspect of preparing your property to rent, talk to one of our local letting experts, you can find your nearest Northwood Branch by clicking here.