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What to do with our London home?

(14 Posts)
UmPixie Wed 22-Jun-11 22:48:14

So looks like we're off to Doha, what on earth do we do with our 2bed flat in London? Anyone got any experience of renting places out? or is it a beauracratic (sp???) nightmare if you're no longer resident in Britain. We do intend to come back to the UK to live one day (5-10 yrs?) yes i know, i know we all sayyyy that wink
In any case it prob wouldn't be in this place--barely fit with 2 preschoolers if we come back and they've done that annoying growing thing we def won;t fit, or if it's so long that they've abandoned us for booze fuelled parties in some filthy HMO my hip replacements may not make it up these stairs
any and all advice/experience welcomed

peggy0062 Wed 22-Jun-11 23:10:31

Sell or rent it out.
In our case, we lived overseas for 2 years. Our house in London was rented out. When we came back a year ago we moved away to a different area and had to sell anyway. Had to do those tedious tax returns every year for the rental income though whilst I didn't have to do beforehand.
You never know how long you'll be there. After a while both of us wanted to come back and decided to do so whilst the kids are young.
Good luck

kreecherlivesupstairs Thu 23-Jun-11 05:50:40

We've lived abroad for 11 years. In that time, we've bought and sold three houses that we have let out to tenants.
It was a pain doing the returns for HMRC, but, it means we've stayed on the property ladder (how I hate that phrase) and have been able to buy a house for me and DD to live in in August.
Now would be a really bad time to try to sell I think. One word of caution, if you do decide to rent it out, choose your agents carefully.

mumoverseas Thu 23-Jun-11 07:27:41

To be honest, I wouldn't rent a property out unless it would be impossible to keep it otherwise.

I've been in the ME for over 5 years and we have always kept our house in the UK for when we need it. We have had friends here who have sold up or rented and they then have problems when they go home for Christmas/summer. Most families go home for 2 months in the summer and those who haven't kept their house have to stay with family or spend a fortune on renting a serviced apartment or hotels. Also, what if you have to go home suddenly? (ie illness/loss of job) - it happened to friends of ours. Husband lost his job, was sent home a few days later and had no where to go with 3 children!

A friend was going home last year as due to have a baby and her tenants refused to leave. She had to issue Court proceedings and didn't get back into her house until after her baby was born.

Lots to think about

bambiandthumper Thu 23-Jun-11 11:19:48

We are moving abroad in August, and will be renting out our home in London. Tbh, if we don't have any more children, I would be happy to return to it, as I love the location, and its a great size for the 5 of us (all the DC's have their own room).
buuut...
We have decided to rent it out, just in case everything goes tits up and we have to return, or if we don't have the finances in 3 or 4 years time to buy again in central London. House prices will certainly rise in the next 5-10 years, obviously varying whereabouts you live, and assuming you choose a good letting agent you should make some good money.

Kiwinyc Thu 23-Jun-11 18:07:35

Oh another one going to Doha? We'll be leaving for Doha at the end of Aug.

We're renting our house to friends, on a casual as-is basis for far below market rent but still covering the mortgage with a little bit over for maintenance. They will get 3 bedrooms out of 4 and we will use the 4th to store personal stuff we don't want to take with us. There is no way we would sell as our house will continue to appreciate in central London and its in a great location too.

Letting through an agent can be a hassle, and expensive thought. Dh rented a full furnished flat when we were living in Sydney pre-kids and it cost and arm and a leg as they required their fees upfront for the whole year.

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 23-Jun-11 21:43:56

Rent it out. I would recommend our agents - where are you?

zzlondongirlzz Fri 24-Jun-11 03:53:46

Hi Umpixie, we have recently moved overseas and rented out our London flat. I agree with the comments about using agents, it is expensive and actually you don't seem to get alot for your money so it certainly pays to get a good recommendation from someone. We didn't have such a recommendation and thought we had been quite thorough in checking out various agencies but alas it's not going well with the one we went with. They are useless at handling even minor issues even though when we interviewed them we were very clear that we didn't want the hassle of emails/calls about leaking taps/fridge lights etc and they should just handle things with common sense and only get in touch if it were v serious/major money needed etc. We were assured that they would leave us in peace, needless to say this hasn't happened and we are thinking of changing agents. MrsSchadenfreude, I would really love a recommendation too!!....our flat is in central london (baker street area)!

nooka Fri 24-Jun-11 05:24:52

I've let my house out for the last three years and it has been a nightmare to be honest, as although we use an (expensive) agent we got bad tenants and had to spend £10k on repairs after the let finished. So I now in debt. I'll be selling at the end of this tenancy because I can't take the stress and although we should be making a small profit each month in practice with the fees and the seemingly constant stream of repair jobs I can cover the mortgage but very little more (bear in mind that you should make enough for the fees - up front at 11%, plus at least two months vacancy between tenancies, plus allowing for in year repairs, safety checks etc etc).

So I'd only do it with a property that would let for considerably more than the mortgage (in theory I should earn £500 a month, but in practice it just doesn't work that way).

Last time we went abroad we did what seemed like the sensible thing and rented our house out. I think we just about broke even financially, yet I'd expected to be in pocket. Things that surprised me were;

- the long voids between lets,
- the fact that the managing agent only really took notice of the house when there were tenants in (ie they didn't check it over regularly when it was empty),
- the fact that tenants looked fine on paper (references were good etc) but then installed their adult children in the house (cue loads of noisy parties),
- odd bits of damage and neglect that never really got explained.

After that experience, I wondered whether it was worthwhile. I also thought that the better thing to do would be to rent informally to friends because then at least you would be able to trust the people who were in your house.

This time we decided NOT to rent out our house. We don't have a mortgage so didn't need to cover that cost, also we have student DDs in the UK who still wanted to have a place to call home in vacations. So far so good. I like the fact that when I go back to the UK I can go "home" and not have to sleep on somebody's sofa-bed. We had friends staying in our house last autumn while their house was being extended; they paid us for utilities only. That was a great deal for them and in return they are continuing to keep an eye on the house and the post.

Everybody will have different experiences on this. Mine were; bad experience renting out, good experience NOT renting out.

It never occurred to us to sell, by the way. That would have felt quite scary - as if we might suddenly find that we couldn't get back on the ladder at the same rung we left, if you see what I mean.

BizzeeBee Fri 24-Jun-11 08:01:56

In general, I would recommend keeping your property and either renting it out or leaving it empty for your own use.

I have got a positive (so far, touch wood) rental experience, but we have been lucky with our tenants and agent. The agent automatically does anything that will cost up to £100, and asks us for more than this. We did have a hassle when the lawn mower needed replacing, and I would dearly like to know why the sealant round the bath has to be replaced every 3 months!

safran Fri 24-Jun-11 12:07:40

All I can say is for the love of god don't use Foxtons! Expensive, useless, and only interested when it first hits the market once its rented its like a long long echo trying to get anyone to speak to you.

<<sits muttered in corner with only her bitterness to keep her company>>

louisea Fri 24-Jun-11 18:52:20

We're just about to leave Doha and return to the UK. We rented our house out unfurnished while we were away and stayed with my in-laws whenever we were back for holidays. Have to admit that we were extremely lucky because we found tenants who stayed for the full 3 years, hence no voids. Keeping our fingers crossed that they leave on time. Our agents haven't been that good but they have dealt with some issues that cropped up. FIL kept an eye on things which made a significant difference for us. As far as we can tell the house is in good condition so I think that it all comes down to luck.

We've made quite a profit because we've had accommodation paid for here in Doha, so we've more than covered the cost of the mortgage each month. If we'd had to pay for our own accommodation, renting would have been even more imperative in order to cover the mortgage.

If we ever went abroad again I'm not sure I would rent the house out again because hopefully we would have paid off the mortgage. Staying with relatives for several weeks at a time is stressful. Saying that, coming do Doha, we brought the full contents of our house with us. If we went again it would depend on whether we had furnished or unfurnished accommodation as to what we would do.

You have to weigh up the pro and cons. We went around in circles for a while before making a decision and luckily for us it turned out to be the right one.

UmPixie Fri 01-Jul-11 15:36:45

thanks all, it's a bit of a minefield isn't it
We're in Harringay N London so Mrs Schadenfreude if you're agents cover this area would be great to get a recommendation!
Ideally we'll try and do a more casual arrangement with friends/family so can avoid the pitfalls of unhelpful /unfriendly tenants/agents bit not sure that will be poss at the moment--grrrr just another thing on my enormous to do list!

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