How to let your property

Renting out a house or flat you own is an exciting way to earn an income while providing a home for an individual or family. But before you take the leap and become a landlord, there are a few things to get in order. Our guide gives you an insight into what’s involved.

Published in March 2023

Choosing the right letting agents

When you decide to rent out a property, the agents you appoint aren’t just there to find tenants. While marketing and screening prospective rental clients is an important part of their role, there’s so much else besides this.

The right letting agency – or more often the lettings department of a general estate agency – is a valuable partner. They reach out to people looking to rent through a mix of online, print and in-person channels. And they can also provide a range of key services to make your role as a landlord easier, with many even offering full property management.

As well as benefiting from your agents’ knowledge and experience in the rental property world, you also get the reassurance of an extra layer of communication. This can provide a professional buffer between you and your tenants. If problems like rent arrears or maintenance queries come up, an agent can be a calm presence mediating to resolve any issues.

When choosing your letting agents, we’d recommend that you opt for those who really understand their local property scene. You can ask to see other rental clients and testimonials to ensure they have a sound track record. And there’s a lot to be said for trusting your instinct. You’ll be interacting with your agents regularly so it pays to make sure they’re people you connect with. As you might expect, we heartily recommend our own highly regarded lettings service, which ticks all these boxes!

Find out how we can help you to successfully let your property in or near Plymouth

Attracting tenants

Making your property look presentable and getting it in a good state repair is important for several reasons. For one thing, you’ll want to appeal to prospective tenants. And the better the quality of your let, the higher the rent you could get. Plus, of course, you need to provide a safe, comfortable and attractive living environment for those who take up residence at your house or flat.

Some of the actions you can take are relatively easy wins. Getting your place clean and tidy is a basic starting point. You might also consider a new paint job, which is a quick way to make a big impact. And don’t neglect the outside – removing clutter and keeping the garden trimmed and tidy helps potential renters to imagine your property as their home.

Even more important than the visual impression is making sure everything works as it should. Quirks and flaws we might get used to when living in our own home really need to be fixed for the rental market. This includes things like making are windows and doors all open, close and lock safely. And making sure that toilets, taps, showers, baths and appliances all work reliably.

The legal stuff

As a landlord, you have a duty to ensure that your property is safe and fit to live in. There are a number of areas that need to be considered, and your letting agents will cover these in detail. You can also find current information about your responsibilities on the UK government’s website.

Your obligations include checking that all gas and electrical equipment are installed safely and maintained regularly by a qualified professional. You’re also highly recommended (and in some cases, required) to provide smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

There’s also a requirement to arrange an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) for your rental home. This gives tenants an idea of the property’s energy efficiency, how much energy they are likely to use, and how much it will cost.

As you might expect, there’s also plenty of paperwork that comes as part and parcel of becoming a landlord. Your letting agents will draw up a tenancy agreement and guide you in arranging a tenancy deposit with an approved scheme. Plus, you’ll need to get permission from your mortgage lender to let your property – and possibly have to change your mortgage product. And when you’ve accepted your chosen tenants, your letting agents will arrange credit check, landlord references and proof of income.

Managing your rental property

Your tenant is through the door – but the work doesn’t end there. It’s essential to keep on top of things like collecting rents and making sure that the property is professionally maintained. Hopefully, having chosen your tenants carefully, it should be mostly plain sailing. But you need to be prepared in case any disputes or problems crop up.

While you might want to handle all this yourself, you can also use a letting management service to take care of it. This can spare you all the time and stresses that can come with letting your home – and allows the seasoned experts to solve day-to-day enquiries or problems. At Smeaton Homes, our lettings service includes an online system where all your essential documents, reminders and certificates are held in one easy-to-access place.

Whatever route you take, renting your property can b a rewarding and profitable pursuit. With the right preparation, you’ll be well on your way to having happy tenants and achieving success in your new role as a landlord.