Why should I rent my property by the room?

With no sign of the current love affair with buy to let slowing down many rental markets are becoming saturated, so rents are being kept down by a high level of competition. By-the-room lets are one way of avoiding this and there are several reasons why you should consider renting by the room.

Firstly you can get more rent for you property let by the room compared with as a whole, in some instances up to twice as much. You’ll also have less chance of having your whole property empty at any one time – if one tenant leaves you’ll still have rent coming in while you find a replacement.

The average sharer in the UK today is more likely to be a young professional who’s looking for a high standard of accommodation to share until the point they are able to afford to buy. As a result there’s a strong market in many areas for good quality accommodation to let by the room. Look on SPAREROOM.co.uk to see the range of rooms available in your area and use their handy rent checker to see the average prices.

What about HMOs?

HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) generally refers to a house split into bedsits, a flatshare where each tenant has their own tenancy agreement or students living in shared accommodation. An HMO must be registered with the local council if the property has 3 or more storeys AND is occupied by 5 or more people in 2 or more households. In general you should check with your local council but if you can answer ‘yes’ to the following 3 questions you may well need a license:

  • Does your property have 3 or more storeys?
  • Is the property let to 5 or more tenants?
  • Do tenants share facilities?

See SPAREROOM.co.uk’s HMO advice page for more details.

Is it true that there are new laws to deal with deposits?

Yes. As of April 6th 2007 the law regarding tenancy deposits has changed. All deposits taken by landlords must be protected by a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. The scheme applies to all assured shorthold tenancies (the most common type in the UK) and is intended to protect deposits and help settle any disputes regarding return of deposits when a tenancy ends.

There are two types of scheme available and the landlord can choose which to use. The first involves the deposit being handed over to a custodial scheme during the period of the tenancy and the second allows the landlord to keep hold of the deposit whilst paying a premium to an insurance service (this premium will go towards the scheme’s running costs). Go to SPAREROOM.co.uk for more information on these schemes.

What are the risks of renting and how can I protect myself against them?

There are risks attached to renting out your property but, with a little common sense and forward planning, you can do your best to minimise them. Consider Landlord Insurance, it may cost more than regular insurance but it can cover anything from a replacement boiler to loss of rent if your tenant does a runner. As with all insurance is peace of mind you’re paying for as much as anything else.

How do I find and keep good tenants?

If your accommodation is of a good standard and you make a little effort up front the chances are you’ll attract the kind of tenants who will want to stay and will look after the property while they live in it. Here are a few simple tips to get you on the right side of your tenants:

  • A clean, comfortable property will command a higher rent and attract longer term tenants. People renting a room want a comfortable home just as much as people who rent a whole property.
  • Make sure your property is clean and well decorated before tenants move in, if you start with a scruffy property it’s unlikely your tenants will go out of their way to maintain it. Leave a supply of cleaning products in the property so tenants don’t have to go out and buy their own.
  • Ensure you’ve got everything covered in the tenancy agreement at the start – lay down exactly who is responsible for what so there are no unpleasant misunderstandings later on.
  • Be friendly and approachable. If there are problems you need to know sooner rather than later so make sure your tenants know how to get hold of you if they need to. Get any problems sorted quickly and keep a note of reliable tradesmen to call on for repairs.
  • It doesn’t do any harm to leave a pint of milk and a loaf of bread (or even a bottle of wine) for incoming tenants. Moving into a new property is stressful enough so little, inexpensive touches like this will be remembered.
  • Advertise your property with a little thought. Taking a few more minutes on your listing will pay off so make time rather than fitting it in between other jobs. Look at a few other ads and see which would appeal to you to get a few pointers on what to say. Spareroom.co.uk has some great advice on advertising your room to help attract the right tenant.

Is Spareroom any good?

“I’ve tried newspapers, magazines, trade newspapers and estate agents. All were useless and expensive! I now only advertise on the internet. 90-95% of my tenants (who actually sign up and move in) come from the Spareroom website. I do use other sites but they are nowhere near as good or, more importantly, as profitable as using Spareroom. Thanks.” – Alistair Lawes, Rooms in Birmingham.