Your landlord checklist for renting out a house

Before renting out a house, a checklist always helps. Life as a landlord has many advantages, but only if you do your homework first. Here are the essential landlord tips for renting a house.

What to consider when renting out your property

Your landlord checklist for renting a house starts here.

1. Do you know your landlord responsibilities?

As a landlord you have important responsibilities to protect you and your tenants. Make sure you comply with basic landlord obligations – you will need a gas safety certificate (if you own gas appliances), an Energy Performance Certificate and the correct fire safety features, such as working smoke alarms on each floor.

You’ll have to verify your tenants’ right to rent – check their passports or other official documentation – and conduct any follow-up checks if your tenant has a time limit on their permission to stay in the UK. Moreover, you must protect your tenants’ deposit through a tenancy deposit scheme. Visit our landlord responsibilities page for more information.

2. Do you know your mortgage and tax implications?

If you have a standard residential mortgage, you'll need to check with your lender about your conditions or you may need to consider switching to a buy-to-let mortgage. Moreover, you’ll be liable to pay tax on any profits you make from the property, and HMRC will take into account allowable expenses such as maintenance and repairs. It’s worth speaking to a financial advisor as your tax liabilities will depend on your personal circumstances and how much profit you make.

3. Should you hire a letting agent?

One of the most sensible tips for renting a house as a landlord is to hire a letting agent. In doing so, you can save valuable time by getting a professional to deal with the more onerous tasks – such as checking tenants’ ‘right to rent’, carrying out property inspections, and advising you on the paperwork you need. In the event you have problems with your tenants, the fact that your letting agent will have a paper trail of evidence – such as an inventory of possessions – provides you with a sense of security.

Naturally, you should only hire a reputable company to act as your letting agent. Since letting agents are not legally required to be members of a licensing scheme, you should be encouraged if they are voluntary members of the National Approved Letting Scheme or Association of Residential Letting Agents.

4. How much rent will you charge?

Before renting out your home, you should do some research on the local rental market for comparable properties to ensure you charge the right amount. You can monitor prices using online property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, or speak to local letting agents for advice. You should be wary about overpricing because it increases the risk that your property will be vacant for longer; but also, charging too little will prove costly.

There are ongoing costs associated with being a landlord - such as repairs – so you should consider your projected expenditure when setting your rate. To give yourself the leeway to charge more in the future, you’ll need to detail the circumstances of any rent increase in the tenancy agreement. Usually, for a periodic tenancy you can increase the rent no more than once a year unless you’ve obtained the tenant’s permission. If your tenant has a fixed-term tenancy, you won’t be able to increase the rent – unless they agree – until the fixed term ends.

5. Will you allow pets?

A landlord checklist for renting out a house should include a pet policy. Specifically, you'll need to decide whether you’d be willing to rent to tenants with dogs, cats or other animals. Understandably, many landlords are reluctant to do this given the damage pets can cause, including the potential for fleas and other infestations which will need to be rectified before the next tenancy starts. The cost of cleaning fees, repairing damaged furniture and replacing items can reach hundreds of pounds, if not more. Some landlords will have a strict no-pets rule, while others ask for a higher deposit to cover any damage caused by animals, which tenants are usually happy to accept.

If you’re sceptical about renting to tenants with pets, there are some advantages that might change your mind. For example, many renters have a difficult time finding pet-friendly properties, so they may be grateful for your flexibility and treat your home with extra care as a result. Also, tenants with pets often stay for the long-term to avoid the constant upheaval. So unless your property is inappropriate for pets – such as a small flat which can’t accommodate dogs, or a home of historic value where the risk of pet damage is too great – don’t rule out law-abiding pet owners if you want quality tenants.

How long does it take to rent out a house in the UK?

It should take weeks rather than months to rent out a house in the UK, but the time it takes depends on the demand for rented accommodation in your area and on the kind of tenants your property is most suitable for – such as young professionals or families. You should expect to have early enquiries, followed by viewings, within 10 to 14 days of advertising your property. You can potentially accelerate the process by appointing a letting agent to find tenants on your behalf.

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