Telegraph Property Doctors: Becoming a Landlord

We hope to be moving to Budapest at some point next year and need to rent out our house in London. Can you please advise on the essentials of letting our property? We haven’t ventured down this path before and want to cover ourselves for every scenario.

RN, London

A risk is a part of renting any property, but there is an emotional attachment when it is your own home. Make sure you put furniture with sentimental or monetary value into storage.

As you will be out of the country, I recommend using a managing agent. They will source and assess tenants, checking affordability and employment status. Meet a few local agents and obtain appraisals of your property to see what each can offer.

There are three key things you need to know. One, how do they deal with repairs, using an in-house team or subcontractors, and how bad does a problem have to be before they need to consult you? Two, how do they deal with out-of-hours emergencies? Three, do they guarantee rent even if the property is vacant? Some agents will include Rent Guarantee Insurance (RGI) free of charge for a desirable property. And, of course, ask what charges all this will incur.

The agent should tell you who the target tenant for your area is – be it young professionals, families or students – and whether the house needs to be let furnished or unfurnished.

If letting furnished, you will need to ensure all appliances and furniture meet safety standards. Electrical appliances need to have a CE mark as the very minimum and, while it isn’t mandatory, I’d also get a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) on all appliances to show they are safe at the time of letting. By ensuring all basic maintenance is up to scratch before you go, you could save yourself a real headache down the line.

A Gas Safety Certificate and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) are legal requirements. You are required to fit smoke alarms, and a carbon monoxide detector if you have any solid-fuel heating or a woodburner. And if your property is mortgaged, you will need consent from your lender to let the property. Enjoy Budapest!

Phil Stewardson, expert landlord

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