A girlfriend of mine is making a tidy little sum from renting out her own home during the Olympics. She first got the idea during Wimbledon two years ago when a work colleague asked her if she knew anyone who could house an American family coming over with John McEnroe. The rent being offered was so staggering that she would happily have sold the children for two weeks, to get them out of the way.
Now, of course it’s not as easy as it sounds, given that wardrobes have to be emptied and the house made to look like a hotel. (She even invested in all new towels and bed linen.) But if you are faintly organised about it, it strikes me as a brilliant way of making money from your own property. There are lots of storage companies who will take your possessions for the short term, in spaces starting at nine square feet. Alternatively, you have a massive chucking out session (my favourite thing in the world) and just lock away the valuables.
Onefinestay.com is the company she uses and they have a fairly strict remit (no squats!) but if you are going abroad for the summer, why not think about renting out your home. You could pay for the holiday and have enough left over for a leg wax.
In a stagnant property market, for those who are looking to sell and can’t, or for those who wish to downsize, a popular alternative at the moment is to let your own home and rent something smaller or relocate to a different area. It sounds daft but when you do the sums it can work to your advantage. Letting out your property could give you the freedom to move on at a time when selling has become incredibly difficult.
Remember, you need to get your mortgage lender’s consent to let your property, because if you don’t you could be in breach of the terms of your home loan. However, if you are planning to keep your mortgage as it is, in order to let your property temporarily, then a lot of lenders may be happy to let you do so.
You could let your property privately without the use of a letting agent, but I advise against this as using one has quite a few advantages. They will market the property for you and organise viewings, and get references from your tenants and draw up a tenancy agreement for you.
Depending on the level of service you choose, they will also manage the property and take care of any maintenance issues, dealing directly with the tenant on your behalf. However, if you are not on another continent, I suggest you manage the property yourself and save the extra 5%. (You can expect to pay 10% of the rent you receive in fees, or around 15% if you opt for a full management service.)
It is a good idea to make sure the agent is a member of a recognised body. Members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the National Association of Estate Agents and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors are all bound by a strict code of conduct. Good luck!!