How to Let Your House, Without an Agent, For Under £100

comments 16
Letting / Manchester / Renting / Tenants

I wanted to post about letting out our property in Manchester. This post is LONG and is meaningless to anyone outside of the UK or anyone who’s not letting out their house in the future. It will probably be meaningless to people who are thinking of renting out their property too, because it’s so long you’ll probably be dead by the end of it and your house will have been given away in your will.

This was our main panic button when we realised we would be moving back down to London. After years of handing over keys to landlords and being done with places we’d live in, it felt really foreign knowing we’d still be responsible for our house in the north when we were living in the south.

I personally felt 3 things:

1) What? How do we even let it out?
2) What? Someone is going to live in OUR house? Walk on OUR floors? Shower in OUR shower? What about our lovely range cooker? What if they are mental or don’t pay the rent?
3) What? What happens if something breaks/leaks/catches on fire? We live in London? How are we going to lord over our house if we are all the way down there?

I’m sure everyone will feel differently about letting out their home. Someone people won’t give a crap, others might not be able to part with their house at all. I think I personally sit somewhere in the middle of those two. Ben, probably sat further down the fence nearer to not giving too much of a hoot as long as whoever we handed over our home to wasn’t going to burn it down.

Given that we have a pretty quick turn over (we found out we were moving, moved, let our property and Ben started his new job, within 30 days) we got cracking trying to figure out the best way to do things. There’s a LOT out there. Letting agents will tell you one thing, friends will tell you another, the internet something else. So we collated everything we could and made the best decisions possible and ended up at this crazy mind map:

We knew we wanted to try and let the house out ourselves, without having to pay a letting agent for the privilege. Letting agents typically charge 10% of the annual rent just to do a fraction of what I’m going to list below. 10% of our annual rent would amount to £700. We paid out £82.50 by doing it ourselves. That’s the kind of maths I can get on board with.

So without further ado, I give you our ‘How to let your house, cheaply, simply, safely and quickly in 8 easy steps’. Catchy.


1 – Mortgage:

-Before you do anything, if you have a mortgage on your house and it’s not a buy-to-let one, call your mortgage provider. What you are after is something called a ‘Consent To Let’. It’s basically the mortgage company saying that yes, you can let out your house even though when you bought your house you didn’t get a buy-to-let mortgage.

-For us all it took was a phone call, a quick over the phone questionnaire about who we were letting it out to (eg; not criminals). Then within 2 weeks they sent us our permission letter.

– It was free for us, but is can cost you depending on your mortgage provider/what type of mortgage you have/how far you are in to it. A friend of ours paid £100 for hers so it’s not end of the world stuff.

– Apparently they very rarely decline you consent to let. Said the man at Halifax.

2 – Certificates 

-To legally let out your property in the UK you need two certificates to show how safe the house is.

a) Gas Safety Certificate: If you have any gas appliances in your property they will need to be tested by a CORGI registered gas engineer. We have a gas boiler, hob and fire in our house, so all three needed testing.

-I went on to www.gassaferegister.co.uk, typed in my post code and found a local gas engineer who came over, tested everything and gave me a certificate (plus a copy for our tenants) for £60. Obviously where you live and how many gas appliances you have will alter this price, but for three gas appliances this is probably roughly what you are looking at.

b) Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): This is a certificate showing how energy features in your home perform.

-If you’ve bought your house relatively recently whoever sold you the house will have shown you one. They last for 10 years so it’s worth checking the EPC Register and putting in your post code, as you can download it for free it it’s still valid. This is what we did.

– If your property doesn’t already have an EPC you can go to the EPC Register and find a certified Energy Assessor in your area. EPC certificates start from £55.


3 – Promoting your Property

– We put up this ad on Gumtree. It was totally free to do:

 ‘Excellent unfurnished, two bed terraced property, close to all local amenities and local transport links. Situated on quiet cul-de-sac with ample street parking. 

 The property comprises of: 

 Living Room: Working fireplace, real wood floors 

Dining Room: Storage cupboard, huge under-stairs cupboard, real wood floors, fireplace, double patio doors out to back yard area. 

Kitchen: Range Cooker, brand new fridge/freezer, dishwasher 

Bathroom: Full bath and separate rain shower cubicle 

2 Large Bedrooms: Back bedroom has built in wardrobe 

Utility Room: Washing machine and tumble dryer 

Gardens front and back 

House Alarm/Gas Central Heating with Wireless Room Thermostat/Fully double glazed 

 No Housing Benefit or Students thank you. 

Suitable for professionals’

 – We included a few of the pictures of our house from the Hause Tour on this blog, which I think helped give people a picture of what we were offering. We also posted the ad on our personal Facebook pages to see if friends of friends were after a place to rent.

– In a week we had about ten emails requesting viewings, all through Gumtree. The first people who viewed the house asked to take it and we really liked them so went through to the next stage of the proceedings.

4 – Holding Deposits/Credit & Employment Checks

– We took a £100 holding deposit from the tenants on the day they asked if they could take the property subject to credit and employment check. Again this can be more of less based on the rental price of your property but it should be enough to stop anyone running off after offering to let your property!
– I used a site called Letting Ref to obtain credit checks and information on the tenants. It’s a really nice, clean and simple site, which allows the tenant to fill out all of their information and then you the landlord can log in and check their credit ratings. It tells you if the tenants will be a safe bet, recommends whether they should have a guarantor or if their credit ratings are too poor and you shouldn’t take them on as tenants. Prices go down the more checks you do, but we paid under £10 per check and the tenants footed the bill.
– Letting Ref obtains the tenants current employment details so I emailed both of the tenants places of work the following email to double check they were employed as they said they were:

I’d be grateful if you could answer the questions about ________’s employment below to the best of your knowledge and email them back to me. 
Many thanks
 
Position held:
 
Basic annual salary:
 
Is applicant permanently employed?:
 
Is applicant on a fixed term contract?:
 
If applicant is on a fixed term contract what is the duration of the contract left:?
 
I confirm that the information supplied is to the best of my knowledge and belief, true. 
 
Name:
 
Position held:
 
All information will be treated as confidential. Thank you for your assistance.

5 – Deposit and Deposit Schemes 

– Once we were happy with the credit checks and had had confirmation back from both employers of the tenants we then asked for the full deposit. From all the info we had looked in to it appeared that 6 weeks plus the first months rent is now standard for a deposit. We asked the tenants to do a bank transfer with the full amount including the money for the credit checks, less the £100 holding deposit.

– By law in the UK as a landlord you must place the deposit for your property into a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme within 30 days. The scheme basically protects both parties, but it’s mainly to protect the tenant from landlords who take money from tenants without good reason. The money is held (Custodial Scheme) or insured (Insured Scheme) until any disagreements are sorted out. We opted for the Insured Scheme as it meant the money stayed in our personal account and we felt more comfortable with that but it cost us £22.50 as opposed to the free Custodial Scheme.6 – Contract

– You’re after an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (England & Wales)

– We were lucky enough to have a neighbour who had one on file, but you can buy them from WH Smith for under £7.
– Make sure you read the agreement from cover to cover.
– We then wrote a list of all the things we wanted to make sure were covered in the agreement ie; specifying the tenants couldn’t paint, specifying no animals etc and then went back and double checked we were covered in the agreement. A standard agreement should cover both the tenant and the landlord sufficiently, but it’s always best to check and double check to make sure your agreement suits your property.
– Once we were happy with the agreement we asked the tenants over (a good opportunity for them to ask any more questions about the property) to sign it. We were advised to go with either a 6 month or a 12 month contract but no longer as this was the first time we were letting out a property. We agreed a 12 month lease with the tenants, agreed a move in date and all signed two copies of the contract with a neighbour present as a witness. Then we gave a copy to the tenants and went on our merry way.7 – Landlord’s Insurance

– If you have a mortgage you need Landlord’s insurance. If you don’t have a mortgage, still get it. Landlord’s insurance replaces the buildings insurance you had to get when you bought the house.

– You can then add things on like insurance against the tenants wrecking the place. It doesn’t cover wear and tear, so if the washing machine breaks of it’s own accord you can’t claim, but if the tenant covers the kitchen cupboard in black marker then you can. We didn’t opt for that, but we did opt for insurance against missed rent payments, just to be on the safe side. If our tenants stay on for another year and they’ve been brilliant for the first year then we will probably take that off of our policy as at the moment it’s preeeetty pricey at £38 a month.
– We could have gotten a better deal, but I’m a dick and wanted to get £75 worth of M&S vouchers from the insurer we were with originally.8 – Inventory

– Do an inventory for god’s sake. It will make life so much easier on check out. A neighbour offered to do ours (it’s important to have an impartial person to do it) although he’s still not sent it to us and he’s been really bloody unreliable so pick your impartial person wisely.

– We rented out house unfurnished because we wanted to take all our stuff with us, although we left curtains, blinds, lampshades etc.
– We downloaded a standard inventory form for free here, and then adapted it to our house.
– We had the house professionally cleaned before the inventory, so if you’re planning on doing that make sure it’s noted and photos are taken of things like the oven, as the tenant will be obliged to leave the property how they found it.
– On the subject of cleaning, if you live in the North West, do NOT for the love of god use Clean Team North West. They didn’t show up and also shouted at me and put the phone down on me when I called to see where they were. They were literally the most stressful part of the whole move.
We put together a little house hand book to help the tenants understand any random quirks about the house like the control pad on the boiler being a bit confusing etc. We also mentioned things like ‘please trim the bush in the front garden from time to time, and make sure you clean out the filter in the tumble dryer’. To be honest it was probably me doing my best to be a control freak but I felt like it might help. We also left them a bottle of bubbly in the fridge so they would like us and not trash our house.
So there you have it. I genuinely hope this helps make someone’s life easier, cheaper and less scary when they are thinking of letting out their house. If Miss Nervous Breakdown over here can do it and survive unscathed, then literally anyone can.
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16 Comments

  1. Hopefully your tenants will respect your beautiful home. I know from renting I would appreciate your little hand book to get to know the little quirks. I would also appreciate your bottle of bubbly no end!

  2. I’ve passed this guide on to a few people now who are charged horrendous amounts of money by letting agents to find people for their property. They’ve all found it really helpful and in turn passed it on again.

  3. Ashley says

    Literally changed my life! I love you Ana. Never, never going near an agency again. Had around 30 enquiries on our flat in first 24 hours. Had it all wrapped up in a week and followed your guide to the letter. Well done guys x x x

  4. Thank you so much for your advice. Priceless as it’s minefield going through letting agencies. Thank you again.

  5. Weili says

    Thank you so much for a such detailed guide!! We started our first step of renting out our home-advertising it! Fingers crossed!! ….

  6. This is very useful stuff, many thanks. But what about property management? Who sorts things out and lets in the tradesfolk when things need fixing etc?

    • Hi Lucy

      Thanks.

      We’ve been quite lucky with regards to maintenance so far (touch wood) but our plan was simply to give a couple of friends and neighbours a door key should they need to investigate anything. Other than that if something goes wrong we will call tradesmen from our end and arrange for either the tenant or a friend/neighbour to be in. This choice was based on the type of tenant we have (they have a small child and so are home more than someone who works full time etc). Although in my 10 years or so of renting I’ve arranged my schedule to be able to access to many of my flats to help out the landlord! There are people who manage your property for you full time and hold the keys/arrange tradesmen for you but as always they are pretty pricey!

  7. Lorraine Donovan says

    Thank you so much for this Article, it has been my saving grace and most informative, I just wanted to say thank you for all the pointers and for saving me an absolute packet !!! All very best and good luck to you. Thank you again, Lorraine

  8. michelle griffiths says

    Thankyou for this information it was all a bit scary when i thought about doing this as i too am thinking very hard about rented my property out and buying another x

  9. Very useful article thank you so much, I am thinking to rent my flat without an agent to save my money and I didn’t not have any ideas where to start, now I know what do . Thank you for sharing your idea.xx

  10. Michelle Ward says

    This is brilliant!!! Im looking to rent my flat out start of next year and this blog has been so useful – I was going to use a lettings agent but now I will definitely do this on my own.

  11. Nancy H says

    I have just found this excellent post online, as I’m about to embark on letting my one-bed London flat and had thought an agent would be the only route for us novices, but I have heard increasingly that they do almost nothing beyond the tenant search. You have made it sound do-able, thank you for the inspiration!

  12. Deborah says

    Absoultely fantastic guide, we did as you suggested with advertising on Gumtree – got our photographer friend to take some photos and ended up with over 25 enquiries! Also, lettingref now have some online codes for two free searches. Letting agent quoted us £500 to find a tenant – we did it for nothing thanks to you!
    We’re also moving from Manchester to north east London – if I see you around I’ll buy you a drink to say thanks! 🙂
    Deborah.

  13. Ah thanks Deborah! Really glad to have been able to help, so happy you found it helpful! Also, welcome to North East London! 🙂

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