Hey there, Weekend Warriors! Last week I addressed how relocating to London means not only having to rent the London apartment you’ll be moving into, but making plans for the home that you’re moving out of. So, in addition to all the previously discussed packing tips in this series, you need to determine whether you’ll sell or rent your house. Piggy-backing off that post, today I’ll share my own homeowner experience as impacted by our London relocation.
Prior to moving to London, my new-at-the-time husband was still renting an apartment in New York City while I lived in our co-owned condominium unit in the suburbs of Chicago. Our London move was concurrent with the infamous economic downturn of 2008, so even if we had wanted to sell the condo, it was disastrous timing with falling real estate prices. Fortunately, we had always intended the unit to be a long-term investment regardless if we occupied it ourselves, so for us the decision to rent it out to a tenant versus sell was a no-brainer.
While our condo association employs a third-party property management company, procuring tenants is our responsibility. For the last three tenants, we have so far had good luck using Craigslist to advertise. Response has been immediate and fielding the enquiries easy enough over email or Skype. As for paperwork, we were able to obtain everything online—our application form came from On-Site.com and our customized lease contract from LawDepot.com. For credit checks, we use e-Renter.com.
One aspect of property management for which we continue to be beyond grateful is the fact that our lovely and loyal family members who live in the area of the property are willing volunteers! I was still living there and able to show the property to prospective tenants myself in 2008, but, for subsequent renters, I’ve had to coordinate viewings with either the existing tenant or my sister/parents if that tenant is unavailable. My family likewise tends to check-in/check-out procedures, and I’ll be damned if those stinkers don’t also insist on doing the house-cleaning, too, before move-in! I fully realize that not everyone has this trusted and ridiculously inexpensive service, so your alternative in that case is to obviously hire a property manager and cleaning service to do your bidding.
The building was brand new when I first moved into it in 2005, so luckily there haven’t been any real maintenance issues until this past year (faucet repair). In that case, we simply entrusted our tenant to find a recommended plumber on her own that quoted reasonable cost estimates and simply deduct the expense from her next rent check. However, if you have specific preferences, you may want to leave your tenant with a list of service repair contacts and/or somehow stipulate how to field such events in the lease agreement. Basically, think of everything you hope your London landlord will do for you (though won’t necessarily, quite sadly!) when you move into your London apartment and aspire to be that kind of landlord yourself :).