Pre-agree bills to avoid short-term let disputes

by Sarah Ashcroft

First-time landlords should pre-agree bills before signing a short-term tenancy agreement. This is the advice from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla), as it reveals a sharp rise in the number of homeowners turning to the private rented sector.

The organisation says people are opting to rent out their homes, because they cannot be sold in the flat property market. According to Arla, in the final quarter of 2011, 47 per cent of its members saw an increase in the number of rental properties coming onto the market because a buyer could not be found. This marked a rise of 18 per cent from just one year before.

In addition, heightened demand in the south-east for short-term lets is expected this summer, as the London Olympics kicks off in July. It is thought this could spur on even more homeowners to rent a room out for a few weeks or months.

"The rise in this figure suggests that homeowners struggling to sell their homes due to the sluggish market are increasingly looking to the private rented sector to utilise their property in the short term," says Arla operations manager Ian Potter.

"It's likely that many of these reluctant landlords will be attracted by the flexibility of a short-term let.

"Renting a home on a shorter basis can be a good option for anyone who has found a buyer for their home, but not found the right property to buy themselves."

With this in mind, Arla president Tim Hyatt notes that it is vital for first-time landlords to beware any "potential pitfalls".

The organisation has issued a number of tips, including pre-agreeing bills for the start of the tenancy agreement. Landlords must also prepare the property for the let, replacing light bulbs and cleaning throughout.

Anyone renting out their home for the first time should notify their mortgage and insurance providers, as they may need to amend the terms of both if changing the use of the home to a rental property.

Arla also warns that tenants often expect amenities that are not usually offered in the private rental sector; such as a cleaning and laundry service for bedding. In addition, the organisation recommends offering a variety of payment methods and meeting the tenant before they move in.

Finally, landlords should remember that if a deposit is taken, it is likely to require protection through a Tenancy Deposit Scheme, such as TDS.

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Published on: April 4, 2012

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