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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Renting out your home

You can let your home by using a very common type of tenancy. Find out about your rights under a tenancy agreement, your role and responsibilities and how you can use a third party to manage your property.

Letting your property

If you let your property, the tenancy will normally be an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). With an AST, you have guarantees and rights, for example:

  • you can get your property back after six months provided any fixed-term agreement has ended and you have given your tenant two months' notice to leave the property
  • you can charge a market rent
  • you can end a tenancy at any time if your tenants don't pay the rent, behave anti-socially or damage the property, including within the first six months or initial fixed term if the tenancy agreement provides for this

You should agree with your tenant how long the tenancy will last and write it into the tenancy agreement before they move in. You can agree to a set period - known as a 'fixed term' - or you can leave it open-ended.

A tenancy agreement is a written or verbal contract between a landlord and a tenant setting out the terms and conditions of a rental agreement. You should try to have a written agreement ready before a tenancy begins. You can use a verbal agreement but they offer no proof if disputes need to be settled.

Read 'Types of tenancies - private renting' to find out more about the type of tenancy you might have and what information your tenancy agreement should include.

Protect your property against fraud with Land Registry

If you own a property and don't live there it is important to protect it against property fraud.

To protect the ownership of your property, make sure Land Registry has up to date details for you and can contact you wherever you live.

Read 'Protecting your property against fraud' to find out more.

Landlord responsibilities

Your responsibilities as a landlord include:

  • repairs to the structure and exterior of the property
  • repairs to heating and hot water installations
  • repairs to sinks, baths and other sanitary installations
  • safety of gas and electrical appliances that you supply
  • fire safety of furniture and furnishings that you supply
  • providing an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • protecting your tenant's deposit in a government-approved scheme

In return, your tenant is responsible for taking good care of the property and paying the agreed rent. The tenant should also pay for other charges - like Council Tax or utility bills - unless you have already included an amount for these in the rent.

You will have to pay Income Tax on your gross rental income minus your day-to-day running expenses.

If you have a mortgage on the property you intend to let, you must have, or must obtain, consent to let the property from your mortgage lender.

Using a third party to manage your property

If you do not want to personally manage your property when letting, you can use a third party to take responsibility.

Letting agencies

You can pay a letting agent to manage your property and become the main point of contact for tenants. This means they will handle repairs, rent issues and other problems.

If you hire a letting agent, they can:

  • find tenants for the property
  • draw up the tenancy agreement
  • collect rent
  • provide a full management service, like repairs or servicing
  • protect your tenant's deposit

If you hire a letting agent who is a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the National Association of Estate Agents, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the National Approved Letting Scheme, they will work to specified standards of service.

Local authority and housing associations

If you let your property through a housing association or local authority it is possible to protect your income as well as reduce your responsibilities as a landlord.

Housing association and local authority schemes vary, but normally you would be offered a letting period of three or five years with a set amount of rent paid throughout the term.

A housing association will manage the property for you, including finding a tenant and collecting rent. At the end of an agreed term, the property should be returned to you in the same condition it was in when the let began.

You should check with your mortgage lender to see if they allow you to use such schemes.

You should contact your local authority, which usually works with all the housing associations in the area, to find out:

  • if your property is suitable
  • the schemes on offer
  • the expected rental return

Housing associations may charge a management fee for their service. This fee can often be deducted from the rental income.

Local authority renovation grant

If you need to repair your property before it's available for rent, a housing association may be able to help by providing a grant. You may also qualify for a local authority renovation grant.

Most local councils offer grants to help with the costs of renovating a property to make it fit for people to live there. These grants have very strict guidelines and can be applied for through your local authority.

These grants are provided at the discretion of your local authority and the amount you can receive is based on your income. The level of grant available and the conditions that have to be met before you can qualify for a grant vary between local authorities.

You should contact your local authority for details of the grants they offer.

Ending a tenancy

You can end an assured shorthold tenancy at any time after six months, as long as any agreed fixed term has ended. You must give a tenant two months' written notice of the date you want the tenancy to end.

If a tenant refuses to leave, you cannot evict them yourself, but you can apply to the county court for an order to get your property back.

You can use an accelerated possession procedure, which avoids the need for a court hearing, if you have a written tenancy agreement and you have given the tenant notice in writing that you are seeking possession. As a result, you will get possession of the property and application costs refunded. You will not be able to claim for anything else, like unpaid rent.

Read 'Ending a tenancy - private renting' to find out more about how to end a tenancy if you are a tenant or a landlord.

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