Letting Your Property

by Alan Harding

Because the housing market is down and sales are taking longer, many homeowners choose to lease their property while waiting for it to sell. Leasing can be a great option if you are waiting for your home to sell. It takes a significant investment of effort, as being aware of your legal obligations and the preparations required are critical to leasing your property successfully.

You need to make sure your home looks its best prior to listing your home. You must maintain your house clean and in good repair, just as you would if you were trying to sell it. There are a lot of tenants who will want to negotiate with you on the price. They are more likely to pay a higher price if your home shows well. But if the house has obvious maintenance issues such as dripping faucets, walls that need painting, stained carpeting, etc., prospective tenants are going to expect to pay less, if they are interested in letting the property at all.

Next you need to make sure you are familiar with all laws regarding letting your property. Becoming a landlord can take some work, but if not done properly you could find yourself in a heap of trouble in the end. If you are still carrying a mortgage on your property you need to contact your lender and let them know that you will be letting out the property. If you fail to do this you may find yourself in a repossession situation. Usually lenders will work with you, especially if you are only planning to let the property temporarily. Another company you must inform is your insurance company. If you do not apprise them of the situation you my end up uninsured which could be a serious issue in the future. As the land lord you are responsible for making sure that all electrical equipment is operating properly and that all gas appliances have been inspected and certified (this must be done annually) Also, if you plan on leaving any furnishings in the home they must be fire resistant.

You can let your property on your own, but because so much is involved, it may be a good idea to engage the services of a letting agent. Letting agents are familiar with the applicable laws; they also have experience in handling the various situations that may arise when letting a property. Agents are aware of pricing in your area and can help you set a good price for your property. Make sure your agent is licensed and works for a reputable agency. Especially if you have never been a landlord before, hiring a letting agent may be your best choice.

One last thing to keep in mind before you let out a property is that as the landlord you are responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the property. If something such as the broiler were to break you, not the tenant, are required to fix it. For this reason it would be wise to have some extra money available to you if such an event arises.

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