Leasing your family home can feel like a daunting process. There are lots of things to organise, such as packing and storing the contents of your home, as well as clearing out and disposing of excess “stuff”. In addition to packing up, you need to ensure your home is tenant-ready, even if you only plan to lease it for a short period i.e. while you are on a 2-3 year posting. Whilst the experience can be an emotional one for many families, there are a few things you can do to prepare your family and your home for a smooth tenancy transition.
Start with advice from an expert, such as a proficient property manager. They will have been through this process before and have a checklist of what needs to be organised before you lease your property. Depending on where your home is located, they will be able to offer advice on if you should lease your home furnished or unfurnished, as well as any other modifications you need to make to your property to limit damage and wear and tear. Since your property manager will be selecting tenants for your property, it is advantageous to engage them early in the process so they can guide you in the right direction and help you find the most suitable tenant for your home.
Your property manager will be a wealth of helpful advice on how to prepare your home for tenants. Here are some suggested modifications worth discussing with your property manager:
- Floor coverings – If your home has a light coloured carpet (or carpet that has seen better days), consider replacing this with darker carpet, or something more durable such as tiles or laminate flooring.
- Window dressings – Light coloured curtains can become dusty and show dirt easily, whilst aluminium Venetian blinds can be easily damaged. Opt for serviceable window coverings, such as roller or vertical blinds, wooden venetian blinds, or shutters.
- Paint work – If your paintwork is looking a bit tired, a quick couple of coats (especially in the living areas) will revive your home and make it more appealing to tenants. Be sure to select a Wash and Wear paint in a stylish neutral colour that your tenants can keep clean. Tip: Keep an extra pot for touch ups when you return.
- Create a compendium of information about your house, including manuals for the oven, dishwasher, etc. to leave in the house or with your property manager.
Leaving your beautiful garden (particularly one you have invested time and money in) can be traumatic when leasing your family home. The plants you selected for your own garden may be different to the plants you would select for a low-maintenance investment property e.g. roses vs. tough natives. However, you can tenant-proof your beautiful garden.
Discuss with your property manager how much gardening you can realistically expect your tenant to do. Then get stuck into pruning and mulching (or outsource these tasks if time isn’t on your side). If you have plants or lawn that requires regular watering, installing a simple irrigation system will assist with this and be easier for tenants to use.
If you are still concerned about your treasured garden, engage the services of a garden maintenance company every few weeks and factor this into the rental rate. Many time-poor tenants will love the idea of a maintained garden and be happy to pay slightly more rent if it means they don’t have to do anything.
There will still be bills associated with your property you will need to pay while you are away, such as rates. Your property manager will have advice on how to deal with these, but you will need to decide what address you want these notices sent to and how you plan on paying them. Set up Direct Debit payments for anything you can before you leave, especially if you are going overseas.
Ensure that your property manager has accurate contact details for you before you leave (especially if you are going on an overseas posting) such as:
- Your overseas address
- At least one contact number
- At least one email address
These details are essential if they need to urgently contact you regarding your property. Whilst your property manager will be able to shield you from many of the everyday decisions, if something more major occurs you will want to know about it.
If you are worried when you return to your house in a couple of years’ time that it will be a shadow of its former self, console yourself by keeping in mind:
- The rental return you receive on your property should far outweigh any damage caused to the property. Whilst some paintwork may need touching up, or the garden might need a little extra TLC, any damage should only be cosmetic and nothing that a bit of time and money can’t fix. This is maintenance you probably would have done on the property if you had been living there anyway.
- Regular inspections from your property manager will ensure your property is maintained to a high standard. This is one of the many advantages of engaging an experienced property manager.
Leaving your beloved family home in the hands of a trusted property manager will alleviate much of the stress associated with renting out your home. The earlier you can engage with a property manager, the more assured you will feel, leaving you to focus on your family and your new adventure.