Before moving to the United States, we had a lovely home in Chipping Sodbury, England. It was knowing what to do with that home – whether to manage it ourselves as a rental or employ an agent to do the work that kept us awake at nights.
Eventually, we decided to forgo the cost of a professional and do this thing ourselves, a move that proved both positive and negative.
First Big Tip – Meeting The Tenants.
If you manage your own rental, you need to meet your tenants. Don’t leave it up to a friend to take them around. It’s your home, and knowing something about the people living in it is vital for some peace of mind. Because we advertised early we met our tenants weeks before we left, and this gave us comfort, especially as we were to be so far away.
Second Big Tip – Making An Official Agreement.
This is very important because if you are unhappy about something and have no agreement to refer to, you could be in trouble. Another vital point is to make your agreement legal. We contacted a property agent for this part and made everything legal and binding, and it’s a good job we did. Our tenants told us that they were going to build a closet in the main bedroom, an act we immediately stopped. Panic stricken for a day, we called and referred them to the contract clause that said “no alterations,” and thankfully this ended the idea.
Third Big Tip – Understanding Your Obligations.
Before deciding to rent take a look at the obligation you have to your tenants. We had a difficult situation when our fireplace started smoking too much. We were in the USA so it wasn’t possible to visit. We told them to check out a professional to get it fixed. It turned out that the job was enormous, our chimney was blocked which allowed carbon monoxide into the room – this wasn’t something we had thought about as we’d not used the fireplace that often. Basically, anything that goes wrong with the house that isn’t the obvious fault of the tenant is your responsibility. It’s a good idea to get the house checked over for problems before you rent, and if everything is in working order and safe, get it in writing.
Fourth Big Tip – Distance and Inventory.
Most tenants don’t live 5,000 miles away from their property, however some do still live too far away. We have had a lot of problems because of our proximity to the house, so if you are thinking of managing your rental try not to move too far from it. The further away you are the less control you have over maintenance costs, and the more time consuming it is for you to deal with any issues. If something crops up that you can fix personally, but you are miles away, it’s more likely that you’ll hire somebody.
Before renting, make an inventory of everything that’s in the house. Because these can sometimes be disputed by tenants, take photographs. We didn’t want there to be any alterations so we took pictures of each room, pictures can’t lie.
Fifth Big Tip – Rent.
We collect our rent by standing order, which I think is by far the better choice. I know of some people who wait for the rent to be delivered to them; however, the rent is often late and sometimes doesn’t turn up. Because it is difficult to evict a tenant, it’s safer to know that their bank will pay you every month.
Even though the property is yours and you may have spent many happy years in it, as an owner who is renting you don’t have the right to entrance. You must give your tenants at least 24 hours notice. This was a problem for us when we visited the UK the first time, we wanted to go in and see the house just for memories sake but the tenants would not let us in – which we accepted. It was a sad day but one that taught us a lesson.