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