16th June 2021
Here’s what should you start thinking about…
There can be good income to be made from letting your family home or a family-sized property you might have, but there are a number of things to consider and prepare to make sure you get everything right for you and your tenants.
‘When it comes to letting a property, we usually think of smaller properties, such as one or two-bedroom flats, and starter homes,’ explains Mark Cruse, Lettings Manager at Alexander & Co in Buckingham. ‘But for a variety of reasons, many people have a larger, family sized property they decide to rent out.
Your letting opportunity
You may be looking to let your actual family home because you’re moving away from the area for a period of time, perhaps through work commitments. Some families include a parent who’s in the military and is required to move around, but want to keep a permanent base which they can return to, or it could be that you’ve inherited a property and have decided to keep it rather than sell, and make some regular income from it.
Mark Cruse at Alexander & Co highlights how location really counts for families: 'Sometimes larger properties can be a little harder to rent out because there’s less demand. However, in certain areas popular with families, and for homes close to good schools, there can be a clear demand.’
So, as you become a landlord or let a bigger home out for the first time, what should be on your radar?
A landlord’s responsibilities
As a landlord, you take on certain responsibilities as you protect your property and keep your tenants safe, comfortable and happy in their home. It will be you who’s accountable for (or at least approves and pays for) all repairs, maintenance and refurbishment of the property (if some decoration is needed). ‘There are a number of regulations to be aware of and comply with, too, so it’s important to keep up with them,’ adds Mark.
You must make sure all gas and electric equipment and appliances are safe and in good working order. This includes obtaining a gas safety certificate and meeting the landlord electrical safety standards. It’s also mandatory that you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the property. There’s the chance that your local council may carry out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) inspection, if your tenants have requested this.
Clean and ready to go
Where to start? Take out all personal belongings, replace anything that doesn’t work (like light bulbs), and deal with any small repairs, like a leaky tap or broken tiles.
Keeping things ‘neutral’ in terms of colour schemes is often more attractive to would-be tenants (it can make the place easier to maintain too). Give the rooms that need it a coat of paint if you can. Some people opt for more of a satin finish when decorating, as it’s easier to wipe clean and may reduce the amount of work needed on the house in between tenants.
Give the front of the house and any outdoor spaces a tidy up, as this really will help with first impressions. This could just be doing a little weeding and cutting any grass, or going further and repairing cracks in a driveway, for example. It’s also a good idea to make sure the house number is easy to see from the road!
Mark suggests getting the professionals in: ‘Many people get professional cleaners in when preparing a house for viewings, to give it a “deep’ clean”. They’ll take care of everything from windows and skirting boards to the fridge and the oven, on top of the basics like bathrooms and carpets.’
All these things go towards you getting a tenant in quickly in what can be a competitive market, and achieving the best monthly rental figure possible.
To furnish or not to furnish?
There’s a decision to make before you let your property: will you offer it as furnished or unfurnished? The furnished option is really handy for tenants who are working in the area on a temporary contract.
If you do decide to offer it as furnished, you need to make sure all the basics are covered: from sofa and table and chairs, to beds and bedside tables, plus white goods (at least a cooker, washing machine and fridge/freezer). Make sure all furniture and furnishings comply with the latest fire regulations
Getting your mortgage and insurance right
You need to get in touch with your mortgage lender to let them know that you’re renting the property out. The lender might want you to switch to a buy-to-let mortgage, which may carry a higher interest rate.
You must also contact your buildings and contents insurer about letting the property, as it’s likely your policy will need to change. If you don’t initiate these changes, you may not be covered in the event of fire, damage or theft, so it’s definitely something else to tick off the list.
Landlord insurance also exists to cover you for any financial loss associated with your rental property. It’s not actually a legal requirement, but it will protect the building and cover you if your tenant misses payments.
Can furry friends move in too?
PDSA’s report from February 2020 showed that 51% of UK adults own a pet (26% of UK adults have a dog; 24% of the UK adult population have a cat). It’s likely that these figures have gone up since the UK’s lockdowns. Most landlords don’t allow pets, but with so many families now owning a pet, it’s something that you might want to consider. Many tenants will be willing to pay more each month for a home where they can keep their pet. If you do go down this route, it’s important to consider your neighbours and to talk to them about the prospect of a pet moving in as well.
Peace of mind along the way
As you can see, there’s plenty to think about and take care of when it comes to letting a property. Many people choose a fully managed letting service to help with everything right from the start, and throughout a tenancy. It means peace of mind for owners, and is especially convenient if you don’t live near the property you’re renting out.
Take a look at our quick checklist below to help you on your letting journey.
Property letting checklist
- Get to know the market for properties in the area like yours.
- Prepare your property so that it’s in a state of good repair and clean.
- If you’re offering the property as furnished, make sure all the basics are in place.
- Make sure you’re clear on a landlord’s legal responsibilities.
- Contact your mortgage lender and also arrange the appropriate insurance.
- Make sure gas appliances and equipment have been serviced by a CORGI-registered engineer
- Make sure all electrical wiring has been checked and safety approved by a qualified electrician.
- Let the local council tax department and relevant utility suppliers know that the property is going to be let, and from when.
- Time to start looking for the right tenants!