Choosing to rent out your home is a big decision and there are a number of important factors you should consider before taking the plunge and moving tenants into your property. ARLA Propertymark has pulled together these top tips to help you prepare to rent out your home and keep your future tenants happy.
Check you can
The decision to rent your home will mean that you go from being a homeowner and occupier to a landlord, and with your new status, comes great responsibility. In the first instance, check that your mortgage allows you to let out your property, as some agreements contain caveats to prevent homes from being rented. If you are unsure, speak to your mortgage lender and they will be able to advise you accordingly.
Do your research
First things first, it’s important to get to know your market. Take a look at similar homes to yours in the same area and find out how much they are being let for per month. Be flexible with your expectations and use your research to inform your rental price. If your rent is set too high, or too low, prospective tenants will steer clear.
Think about your target demographic and consider who your property would be suitable for - young families, students, single professionals? A high quality letting agent will be able to help advise with this. Once you’ve done your homework, set a competitive price and aim to keep it filled at all times to minimise empty periods.
Furnished or unfurnished
Before you put your property on the market, you’ll need to decide whether to let the house furnished or not. Think like a tenant and consider if you’re best offering an emptier property, which is often the case as a blank canvas is usually more appealing. Neutral colours will allow renters to picture themselves living in the space and will also make the property easy to maintain at each check-in/check-out. However, it’s also worth considering how your tenants may want to use the space. Many people now envision themselves working from home long-term, so offering to remove one bed from a two-bed property will give flexibility to those who want to use a room as a home office.
Personal belongings and anything of value should be removed from the property, and if you do decide to let it furnished, then be sure to clear out furniture that is old and tired, not fit for purpose or an ‘acquired taste’ to maximise prospective tenants. Any furniture you leave in the property needs to be compliant with the Fire and Furnishings regulations, so please check that.
Keep it clean
You should make sure that your property is clean and in good condition when you let it out. If you hand it over in good condition, there is a higher chance future tenants will take better care of the property. Think about hiring professionals to give your home a deep clean. Professional cleaners will scrub everything from the windows to the oven—they’ll even get down behind radiators- and make sure that the property is nice and aired out before you let it.
And don’t forget the exterior of the house—often the exterior will be the first picture a tenant sees on internet marketing and will form an all-important first impression. General sprucing of outdoor spaces will make the property more attractive to renters. Step outside and see how your property compares to those beside it. Think about how clean the windows are, how the paintwork looks and if you have one, maximise the front garden.
Electrics and appliances
There are likely lots of things in your property that you’ve gotten used to using or replacing that might not be as straightforward for future tenants so it’s a good idea to consider this in advance. Dig out instruction manuals for the boiler, alarm system, cooker and any white goods, so the tenant has them to hand as soon as they move in and can safely and easily operate them.
By law there are certain checks you must carry out on the electrics in your property, a reputable letting agent will help to organise these checks, but it’s just a good idea to make sure all electrical appliances and wiring are tested regularly. And, it goes without saying that your rental property should be fitted with smoke alarms on every floor and carbon monoxide detectors where necessary. If there is gas in the property you will need a Landlord Gas safety check carried out and a certificate provided prior to your tenant moving in. This check then becomes an annual one going forward.
You should also make copies of any keys that a tenant may need for windows and doors, or for gas and electricity meters.
Sort out the insurance
It is very important that your current buildings and contents insurer is made aware of your intention to let your property, as your policy may need to be amended.
Consider also arranging landlord insurance, which will cover any financial losses connected with your rental property. Whilst landlord insurance isn’t a legal requirement, it is advisable as the policy will protect the building, your tenants and your investment as wholesome policies will also pay out if your tenant misses their rent payments. It’s worth also considering pets when comparing policies. Nowadays many people have pets so consider what kind of protection your landlord policies provide if any issues do arise.