As you will be out of the country, I recommend using a managing agent. They will source and assess tenants, checking affordability and employment status. Meet a few local agents and obtain appraisals of your property to see what each can offer.
There are three key things you need to know. One, how do they deal with repairs, using an in-house team or subcontractors, and how bad does a problem have to be before they need to consult you? Two, how do they deal with out-of-hours emergencies? Three, do they guarantee rent even if the property is vacant? Some agents will include Rent Guarantee Insurance (RGI) free of charge for a desirable property. And, of course, ask what charges all this will incur.
It is important to note that since 2007 it has been a requirement to have an ‘Agent’ in the UK if you are not living here. In this case ‘Agent’ does not necessarily mean your high street letting agent, it can be a nominated individual, usually a relative, that has the authority to act on your behalf in your absence. A lot of people moving abroad, even for a short while, do not appoint an Agent and fall foul of this when the local authorities (LA) come knocking. Luckily most LAs will give chance to remedy this before acting in an official capacity.
You will also need to register with the Tax Office to have you rent paid without deduction of tax while you are away. Again a lot of Agents (including those on the high street) are oblivious to this, and can result in a big headache for you if you do not get this done before you leave. It normally takes about three weeks to get this done (it used to be called FICO registration), and nowadays it can be done online free of charge (click here for the government pages), so make sure you plan this into your schedule before you leave.
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