Q.  What do you think I can do to protect myself from dodgy tenants? I’m a first time Landlord and have become increasingly nervous about the thought of allowing someone to rent my home, I’ve seen all the nightmares that can occur in the news and on TV shows and as much as I need to rent the place to get some income coming in it really does worry me, Help!

A.  Being anxious when it comes to renting out what was once your home is actually quite normal, when you look at it on the most basic level you are going to hand over your keys to some stranger when really you know little to nothing about them and trust that they will not only look after the property as you have done but also be responsible when it comes to paying the rent and the utilities! It’s a big ask that’s for sure. Of course, there are ways that you can protect yourself to some degree from the worst happening. Firstly, get yourself an agent that is ARLA (Association of Residential Lettings) regulated, an agent that is regulated is definitely someone that you can have trust in as they are duty bound to follow a code of practice and are regularly monitored by the association to check they are compliant. They will also help to protect you from the many liabilities that a landlord must comply with such as the anti-money laundering checks as well as the right to rent act too. Of course, running the necessary checks will help to eliminate anyone that does not comply with the government’s regulations for tenants, it will also provide you with a good overview of the tenant themselves, where they work, verify their salary as well as a previous landlord and credit check. I would also really recommend taking out Landlord’s protection insurance, these companies provide various levels of protection which will kick in if the tenant were for instance to default on the rent or perhaps refuse to leave once they have been served notice. Ensure that if you manage the property yourself you carry out regular routine visits, and if the agent is managing the property make sure that their terms state that they visit at least every six months, that way you can spot any mis- use of the property early on and serve notice if necessary. There are many landlords that decide to save themselves a few bucks on fees and carry out the renting process themselves which I would strongly advise against. Speaking from an agent’s perspective it is a minefield out there and you really need to hire a professional if you are to protect your asset and avoid sleepless nights.