Protecting Your 'Let' PropertyThere may be several reasons why you may wish to let your property. Perhaps you’ve bought the property for this specific purpose. Maybe you’ve moved in to another property with a partner or you might get the opportunity to work abroad for a while but wish to keep hold of your home back in the UK.

Whatever your reasons for letting your home out you’ll want to ensure that, should you decide to move back in or wish to sell your home at some point, your property and any belongings within it is in the same shape as you left it.

Lettings Agents

If you’ve never let a property before (and even if you have done so previously), seeking advice from a reputable lettings agent is a good idea. For some people, allowing a lettings agency to take over the running of their property is, quite possibly, the only option in situations where you’re moving abroad, for example, and aren’t going to be on hand to manage the day-to-day running of the property let. For others, letting agents are useful as an initial source of advice on things like how to ensure that you get a good tenant and how you should draw up a tenancy agreement. Then there are those who don’t mind paying a fee to let a lettings agent take care of everything for them.

Choosing a Tenant

Whilst we’d all like to think that a tenant would look after our home with the same care that we would, it’s not always the case. If you were ‘going it alone’, you’d need to advertise your let, interview and vet potential applicants and, whilst we all tend to think our ‘hunches’ about somebody are accurate, we can never be sure. Letting agents are very used to this however, so they are worth considering as they’ll be able to give you a realistic appraisal of the type of tenant you can expect to attract and help you attract the right type.

Furnished Or Unfurnished?

You’re likely to get more money in rental fees if you’re house is furnished. However, this also means that there is often significantly more risk involved in terms of any loss or damage you might incur due to your tenant’s neglect or their potential for theft. It’s quite obvious to assume that, even if you were to let a furnished property, you’d want to remove all the kinds of valuables that could obviously be damaged or stolen – things like computers, jewellery etc.

However, you should insist on a bond which the tenant would have to pay in addition to their first month’s rent before they move in. This ‘bond’ would act as some kind of security for you if any of your property was damaged or went missing at the end of the rental agreement (therefore, it’s important that you also take a full inventory of your house and have the prospective tenant go through that and agree to its contents, both in terms of what you have put down on that list and the condition of each item. That way, the tenant acknowledges that they would be liable to lose their bond (i.e. it would be non-refundable), should items on the list be damaged or missing at the end of the agreement. Obviously, it’s still necessary for you to still have your own home and contents insurance policy in place.

Short-Term Rental Agreements

A short-term rental agreement won’t suit everybody and will possibly limit the number of tenants you’ll have to choose from but it is a good way to determine if the agreement between you and your tenant is working out for you. Usually, a short-term agreement might be for 6 months or a year and this period might be fixed as you might intend returning to the property after that period. However, you can also have a short-term agreement which is renegotiable after the term should both you and your tenant decide to extend that. This gives you a useful way of deciding if you want to extend the agreement after the period is up.

It’s important to note that tenants have their rights too and you must be aware of those. Should you decide to rent out your home, it’s worthwhile contacting the National Landlords Association, and also to speak to a lettings agent first even if you decide to administer the tenancy yourself.