First time landlords: 6 top tips for renting out your home

Renting your home for the first time can be an overwhelming experience, from knowing your legal responsibilities to making sure everything is shipshape.

Fortunately, some top tips have been provided by industry body ARLA Propertymark to help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible and you avoid some of the common pitfalls of becoming a landlord.

David Cox, ARLA Propertymark chief executive, said: “Whether you’re a first-time landlord or have let properties before, there are some things every landlord should know.”

He explained: “Regulations change often which means that not checking the rules, can result in a landlord unwittingly breaking the law.

“We’ve put together these tips to ensure you understand your obligations and responsibilities as a landlord, and how to protect your property, keep your tenants happy and deal appropriately with any issues as they arise.”

1. Preparing your property

It is advisable to undertake any maintenance work that needs to be done before renting out your home. This could include, for example, making sure any decorating is up to scratch and all repairs are carried out. You may also need to install new flooring.

Landlords also need to consider whether to rent the property as furnished or non-furnished. It may be worth offering both options so that the property can be marketed to a wider audience.

2. Do your homework

Do some research into demand for rental properties in your local area and find out how much they are being let for per month. If the rent is set too high - or too low - it may deter prospective tenants.

Also consider the demographic you want to target and consider whether your property is suitable. For example, would your home be better suited to young families or working professionals?

The aim of doing this research is to make sure you attract tenants and avoid any costly void periods.

3. Know your responsibilities

By renting out your home, you’ll go from being a homeowner and occupier to a landlord, and there are different responsibilities that come with this new status. For example, you’ll need to check if your mortgage provider allows you to rent out the property as this is not always permitted under the terms of a loan agreement.

Landlords are also responsible for repairs and maintenance as outlined in the rental agreement, unless a letting agent manages the property and takes over these responsibilities.

So that you and your tenant are on the same page, make sure you have a comprehensive assured shorthold tenancy agreement - our template is a great place to start if you’re not sure what needs to be included.

4. Check your insurance

While specific landlord insurance isn’t a legal requirement, it may be worth considering as many standard home insurance policies don’t cover all the risks you face as a landlord.

Home insurance often only covers the occupier’s possessions and the building itself, while specific landlord insurance can also cover you for the likes of missed rental payments and legal fees or compensation costs should a tenant make a claim against you.

5. Find out more about prospective tenants

When it comes to renting out your home, you want to know it’s going to be in safe hands – unlike landlords who buy properties for the purpose of renting them, your home has sentimental value, and it’s easy to feel uncertain about who you let live in it.

Consider meeting your tenants before agreeing to let them your property, to ensure that you can work with them. Alternatively, you may decide to use a letting agent who can perform reference and credit checks to ensure they are reliable.

6. Be aware of legal requirements

There are more regulations that apply to landlords than you can shake a stick at, and you’ll need to keep those in mind when you let out your property.

These include the checks that landlords need to carry out at the beginning of a tenancy agreement to comply with immigration laws and protecting deposits.

There are currently around 150 laws that landlords need to adhere to while letting a property, so there’s a fair bit of research that needs to be done before you get into the rental business. Fortunately, our quickstart guide to landlord responsibilities will get you off on the right foot.

What worries you most about renting out your home? Let us know in the comments.

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