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How to ease the stress if you rent out a property

Renting and managing a property yourself can be difficult, demanding, and stressful. As letting agents, we would always advise that our services are used, however, if you feel like taking the challenge on yourself, there are ways of easing the process.

The rental market in Dublin is strong at the moment, in certain areas. City Centre, both North and South, will always rent if presented correctly and with an accurate rental value. As you head out to the suburbs and to the newer estates, it very much depends on how the infrastructure in the area was completed.

Good public transport, shops, and schools are imperative. Unfortunately, in recent years a lot of these developments were left short, and now find themselves very isolated, and, as a result, unattractive to renters.

If you find yourself in a position where you are struggling to rent the property, look outside of the usual advertising methods. Are there hospitals in the area? Is there a big local employer who is regularly hiring, and as a result bringing people to the area who will be looking for accommodation? Personally, I have rented a lot of properties by simply placing a notice on the notice board of a hospital or a big local employer.

Ifyou have a multi-unit property, mention to your existing tenants that there's a unit available and see if they might have a colleague or friend who may be interested.

The most important bits of advice we would always offer to someone renting their own property is to be thorough and take your time. Insist on references, and find out why the prospective tenants are moving from their current property,

Dropping the rent a little bit to ensure you get the right tenants for your property will, more often than not, pay itself back over the period of the tenancy, by way of a well maintained property and punctual rental payments.

Always provide a lease. We would normally advise a 12 month fixed term agreement. It is important that your tenants read and understand the lease.

The most common misconception we come across from tenants, is that once they offer 30 days notice they think that are free to leave the property. Make sure that they know that this is not the case from the start, so as to avoid possible confusion down the line. Both of you are entering into an agreement for 12 months, and it should be kept to (unless of course there have been breaches in the terms of the lease from either party). The ramifications of a PRTB hearing as a result of a broken lease, as detailed below, can be very serious.

Once a suitable tenant or tenants are found, leases signed, and the tenancy has commenced, immediately register the tenancy with the Private Residential Tenancy Board (PRTB). Since the introduction of the board in 2004, two main misconceptions have arisen.

Firstly, landlords think that they always support the tenant and, secondly, tenants think that they always support the landlord. Neither of these views are true. The PRTB have always acted in a fair and transparent manner in all our dealings with them. You can, however, very much help your case by being well prepared. Make sure that all dealings with your tenant are documented from the start.

Everything should be in writing or photographed. Make sure there is a thorough inventory. The PRTB can only adjudicate on what is presented to them in a black and white manner.

If you make their job easier by being well prepared and ready to present in a succinct and professional manner, you will always stand a better chance of a successful outcome.

Should a determination order go against you and it is not complied with; either the wronged party or the PRTB can take proceedings to the Circuit Court, which can result in a criminal conviction. All judgments are registered, and can affect credit ratings, employment prospects, and visa applications for foreign travel.

If you choose your tenant carefully, provide them with a lease, and register your tenancy with the PRTB, you will have covered some of the more important fundamentals of renting a property. However, it can seem like a bit of a mine-field to people when it comes to the transfer of utilities and understanding where the owner's responsibilities begin and end.

Don't be afraid to seek advice and always double check what you may think to be correct. The traditional laissez-faire attitude, which many owners would have had to their properties and their tenants in the past, is not good enough anymore. Current legislation is there to protect all parties, and should be respected and adher-ed to. By doing so you will be going a long way to ensuring a quiet life for yourself, where your property is concerned.

Barry Murphy is owner of BPM Estates. www.bpmestates.ie. 01 824 5722

Irish Independent