Help for UK expats renting out their homes whilst overseas

Published:  12 Jul at 6 PM
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Many UK expatriates prefer to rent out their homes whilst on relocation overseas, making sure they have a base for when they return.

With overseas assignments now a popular way to advance careers as well as build up savings, renting out your UK house is the sensible way to retain a secure base for your return as well as ensuring there will be no problems with obtaining a mortgage further down the line. Many expatriates attempt to save money by cutting out the middle man, finding tenants online and managing rent collection and maintenance from overseas.

Whilst saving money is always a good way to go, not using a letting agent can cause big problems for the uninitiated in the do’s and don’ts of the rental market. For example, dealing with tenants’ problems at a distance and from a different time zone can be stressful as well as damaging to your free time, and organising inventories, repairs and new tenancies can be a nightmare when you’re thousands of miles away.

Friends and family living locally to your property can help as regards checking out maintenance and dealing with minor problems, but many expats have found it’s far less than satisfactory and can cause problems in the closest of relationships. Provided your property can be rented out for a reasonable sum, using a professional agency is the best way to go for peace of mind. As regards costs, combined management and letting fees range from around 12 to 15 per cent of the rent.

As with most services provided at a distance, letting agencies veer from the excellent through several stages to the decidedly unacceptable, with choosing the best on offer needing careful consideration. Once you’ve decided, there are several things you’ll still have to do – informing your insurance company you’ll be letting out your home and arranging a landlord insurance policy. Protection from accidental damage, defaulting tenants and any legal costs is essential, and informing your mortgage provider you’ll be letting is another must, as you’ll need its consent.

If you’re nervous about finding an impeccable letting agent under your own steam, the sector’s trade association is the place to go. The Association of Residential Letting Agents is regulated by the UK’s Property Ombudsman, and has a strict code of conduct as well as a list of their members. Once you’ve decided not to go it alone, you can enjoy the challenges of your new job and life overseas without worries about what’s going on at home.
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