22/07/2013 08:09 BST | Updated 22/07/2013 08:09 BST

Top Tips For First Time Landlords

Letting out your property for the first time can be a daunting task. There is, however, plenty of advice out there for first time landlords, so don't fret. Here's a few top tips to get you started.

Think About Your Ideal Tenant

When it comes to attracting tenants, you should go beyond giving the place a quick hoover and putting the property straight on the market. Think carefully about your ideal tenant and their preferences. If you're letting to students, chances are they'd like a fully furnished, durable home that they can move straight in to. Professional couples, however, are likely to be more attracted to a home that is modern and classy, whilst growing families with small children may prefer somewhere that makes the most of its space and has a private garden.

Decide Whether To Use An Estate Agent

One of the biggest decisions you need to make early on is whether to go it alone or employ an estate agent to let the property on your behalf. Estate agents will take away the hassle in terms of promoting your property and finding and assessing tenants, but they will also take 10-20% of your rental income. If you do decide to use an estate agent, you should first ensure that they are registered with a regulatory body such as NALS.

Get Ahead Of The Game

It may seem like there are a thousand things to think about before renting out your property, and you're not far off. Sorting out the little details now will save you lots of time and inconvenience down the line. One of the most crucial things to remember is to take out landlord's insurance, which will cover your building, contents, fixtures and fittings. Another must is to ensure the property has a gas safety certificate - this is required by law.

Use a Shorthold Tenancy Agreement

You must use a Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, regardless of who you are letting your property to. This is vital in protecting your interests. In addition to the standard terms and conditions, you should adapt the agreement to cover the specific requirements of your property. Consider issues such as who looks after the garden and whether you will allow satellite TV to be installed.

Always Ask For References

If you are letting through an agent, they will use a referencing company to do background checks on your new tenants. If you're going it alone, it is vital that you undertake these checks yourself. Pay particular attention to details about previous landlords and current employers and be as thorough as possible - this will certainly save you time down the line.

Use a Landlord Deposit Scheme

Deposits must be protected, and the easiest way to do this is to secure the deposit with a registered third party who will look after it for the duration of the tenancy. In the instance that you want to withhold this deposit when your tenants move out, you can register a claim for some or all of the amount.

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