If you are considering renting out a property then the best advice we can give you is to make sure that it is in as good a condition as it possibly can be. We work on the basis that the better the quality of property the better the calibre of tenant you will attract.
This is not to say that the property needs to be a very large expensive property but simply that it has to be in very good decorative order with good carpets, good kitchen and good bathroom. The garden should be well kept.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
For most landlords looking to let out a property the Assured Shorthold Tenancy will be the type of tenancy which you will enter into. This is also known as the "six months" tenancy. The reason for this is that a lot of Assured Shorthold Tenancies are initially for a period of six months. However the other important reason for this name is that a tenant is entitled to stay in the property for a minimum of six months even if a shorter period is agreed. So landlords who are looking to let out their property for say three months need to be aware of this before they enter into the contract.
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy can be really for any period of time but if it is for more than three years it will need to be witnesssed as a Deed. At the end of the initial contract period then the tenancy can either "roll on" on a month to month basis or a new fixed term can be entered into.
Furnished or Unfurnished?
These days it is more common in this area for properties to be let unfurnished as the amount of rent that can be achieved is exactly the same as for a furnished property. The Assured Shorthold Tenancy does not differentiate beween furnished and unfurnished properties.
When you are letting a property it is certainly worth considering the insurance products that are available to cover periods of non-payment of rent from a tenant. There are ones that will also assist in removing the tenant from the property should the need arise.
We cannot stress enough that the letting law is a complex issue and although the vast majority of properties are let without any problems whatsoever one should not attempt to do anything without full knowledge of the law. Indeed the better solution would be to use an expert in this field should any difficulties arise.
Landlords should always take a deposit as a protection against damage to the property. This will need to be lodged with one of the approved bodies to comply with the current legislation. The Deposit Protection Service offers a free solution to this requirement. It is important that a full Schedule of Condition is carried out at the property prior to the tenancy commencing and this will be used as documentary evidence should the need arise to retain some of the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
Landlords must make sure that they obtain all necessary references and have a credit check done on prospective tenants prior to the tenancy commencing. In certain circumstances, say where a tenant is considered to be financially weak but has an exemplary credit history, a guarantor be considered. If this is the case then if for some reason the tenant did not pay the rent the guarantor "stands in the shoes" of the tenant and is required to make up any shortfall.
Because residential letting is such a complex area the above is merely a brief guideline so contact us to discuss your individual situation in greater detail. Having said that for many people the letting of residential property has been a very worthwhile experience and one that they would willingly repeat.