Accidental landlords, people who find they need to let their home out for work or personal reasons, make up around 30% of all private landlords according to figures from Rightmove.
If you’re planning to join them and let out your home, you’ll find that you have quite a lot of work to do before you can install tenants and start collecting rent.
Firstly, before you can let your property, you need to consult some or all of these parties:
If you’re paying a mortgage, you will need your lender’s permission to let out your home. They are usually very amenable to allowing this but will probably insist that you let your property on an Assured Shorthold basis; which you should anyway. Also they may increase your mortgage rate by up to 2%, and charge an administration fee. If you let for a long period they may even require you to move to a buy-to-let mortgage at a higher interest rate. You may be tempted to not tell your lender, especially for a short let period, but be aware that they are cracking down on this according to The Telegraph.
Let your home insurance company know that you have let your property otherwise you may not be covered in the event of damage, fire or theft. Specialist landlord insurance is widely available which can cover not just your property but public liability, loss of rent etc.
If your property is leasehold then you should let your freeholder know.
Next you need to make sure the property is in good repair inside and out; it’s much cheaper and easier to do the work now, while you’re living there, than to have to have it done “remotely” once the tenants are in.
Making your home look attractive and well-maintained will give you the best chance of finding the right tenants and achieving a good rent as quickly as possible.
Tidy up the front and back garden
Repair cracks or holes in the driveway, garden walls and fences
Fix any cracked or broken windows even in sheds and outbuildings
Give the window frames and doors a coat of paint if they need it
Keep rubbish and rubbish bins out of sight
Ensure all gutters/drains/pipes are free from obstruction
Depersonalise any decoration; it may be boring but neutral, plain and light-coloured walls and woodwork are much more appealing to most people than your harlequin-pattern designer wallpaper, no matter how expensive it was. However if you’re only planning a short let maybe you can get away with leaving it!
Clean the property thoroughly – hire a cleaning company to blitz the place or hire a steam cleaner to do it yourself. Clean the kitchen and bathroom thoroughly to remove any traces of mould or damp stains anywhere in the property. If it’s pristine when your tenant moves in they can have no excuse for leaving it dirty (apart from normal "wear and tear" which has to be accounted for).
Don’t forget to clean extractor fan filters (or replace if not the washable kind),
washing machine detergent drawers and filters, and inside any integrated fridges and freezers.
Check the plumbing & electrics
Ensure that the boiler, hot water supply, sinks, baths, showers and toilets are safe and fit for use. Fix any problems now to prevent them haunting you later.
Make sure a smoke alarm is fitted to each floor of the property, and new batteries in place. Test all sockets and aerials and carry out any outstanding maintenance or repairs.
If your budget allows, replace older kitchen appliances before the tenant moves in. This makes the property much more appealing and again makes it less likely you’ll have to replace or repair them if they break down during the let period.
Prepare information for the tenant
Leave as many instructions and leaflets as you can for the kitchen appliances, boiler, security alarm, local council facilities (when the bins are collected) etc. By law, instruction manuals are to be left for boiler and all appliances at least. Many can now be found online and printed out.
Get a spare set of house keys cut for the letting agent, if you are using one, which will be given to the tenant. Leave window keys and any other door keys (garage, patio doors, sheds) in the property for the tenant to use.
Two documents are compulsory for all properties let inEnglandas of Jan 2015:
Energy Performance Certificate - Contact an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) to arrange for an EPC for your property. The certificate is valid for 10 years.
Gas Safety Certificate – issued by an approved gas engineer on an annual basis. Contact a local plumber who is Gas Safe registered to provide this certificate.
Copies of both documents must be give to the tenants.
Of course a local letting agent such as Newlife Lettings will be able to help you through all these chores and ensure your time as an accidental landlord is as hassle-free as possible, so why not start with a call to them today.