Preparing your home to be rented out

Letting out a property can be a lucrative business, with rental values outstripping sale returns in many areas. But there’s a fine art to getting the letting game right and there’s often a lot of work that needs to be done before your house is at its best.

Here are the changes and decisions you may need to make before renting out your home – and a few ways to help maximise your returns.

Furnished or unfurnished?

This will depend primarily on the kind of people you expect to be living there. People moving in for short periods of time will generally want a furnished property, so if you’re looking for tenants to stay for six months then it’s probably best keep good-quality furniture on-site. If you’re hoping for longer tenancies, perhaps with professional people or families, furniture is less important.

If you decide to supply furniture it must be compliant with health and safety regulations.

Price competitively and advertise well

If you have a four-bedroom house, is that how you’ll market it? Or will you list it as a three-bedroom house with a study or nursery? This again depends a lot on who you expect will want to move to your area. If it’s a very student-y part of the country, ‘more bedrooms’ is generally better. But if the area is very family friendly then a playroom might be more suitable.

Check the building

Get a surveyor to make sure your building is sound. Large cracks are a giveaway, but subsidence could occur almost unnoticed. You shouldn’t rent out a building that suffers from damp or one that is in a state of serious disrepair.

Finish any work that’s in progress. Unfinished projects look shabby and nobody believes a landlord when they say “it’ll be sorted by the time you move in” – the whole house needs to be sorted well in advance of viewings. Ensure everything works, including all the taps and all the light bulbs.

Smells can be very off-putting. Cigarette smoke leaves an unpleasant, stale odour that can reduce the value of your home as a rental property. Even a lot of smokers won’t tolerate the smell.

Adapt your home

Clean and tidy everywhere. Wash the furniture covers and arrange it into a neutral, welcoming format – just because your kids like to push two armchairs together and make a fort doesn’t mean your new tenants will.

De-personalise your rooms and make it easy for prospective tenants to imagine themselves living there. This is particularly important if you’re living in the house while viewings are taking place – too many photos of you and your kids can be overbearing.

Screen potential tenants

You could check to see whether your prospective tenants have any CCJs against them using this website. It will cost you a few quid to access the records, but that’s a small investment to ensure that they don’t have a track history of non-payment.

Tell your bank and insurance company

Consider whether you need to get insured. Your ordinary home insurance provider won’t normally cover you if you start taking in paying tenants, and you’ll probably want a specialist landlord’s insurance policy anyway. You may also need to notify your mortgage lenders.

Renting out your property can be very rewarding – that’s why there are around 1.9 million private landlords in the UK. But it’s not without its risks, so seek specialist financial or legal help if you’re unsure about anything.