There are many reasons for using your property as a rental. You may be deciding to return to your home country, but not ready to make the final decision, or you may wish to supplement your current income. Whatever the reason, you’ll need to get your house in order first – both financially and physically.
- Take out an insurance policy to protect your property against damage, and you against liability.
- For a residential property to serve as a rental property, a permit is required.
- Make it fresh and replace anything that looks tired and dated.
- Consider hiring a property management company to serve as the landlord for you.
A homeowner’s insurance policy isn’t enough if your home serves as a rental property. Any time you have people on a property that you own, you take on some degree of responsibility for their safety.
Get the required rental permit
To rent out your property in Portugal on a short-term basis, you must have an ‘Alojamento Local’ licence in place. This formally registers your property with the local town hall (câmara) as an authorised rental property.
Maintenance and first impressions
Make sure the property is clean and freshly painted; this will go a long way to meeting a client’s expectations. Anything that looks severely dated should be replaced, obviously within personal budgets, but these days there are many items that are both on trend and economic. Remember you will need to build the costs of maintenance and decoration into your rental rates, so don’t go overboard unless you have a rental property which commands high rates.
It is important to treat your rental property in the same way you would treat a regular business – follow the law, keep records and receipts, prevent problems before they happen, and protect yourself from liability.
Rather than taking full responsibility for the property yourself, which can be time-consuming and demanding, you may wish to consider a property management company – it’s worth the investment.
Check the charges and compare the cost and services and choose a company that speaks Portuguese. If something goes wrong and you have asked someone to help you – a friend or neighbour – and they don’t speak the language or have the right connections, it can be very frustrating and costly. A professional management company can also assist you with legal procedures.
Declutter and keep it fresh and simple
Decluttering your home is key. Holiday guests will not appreciate all of your nick-nacks and clutter. They are not looking for the home-from-home feel; they want a fresh Mediterranean and holiday atmosphere.
Be as practical as you can. Leave a basic range of cooking utensils, cutlery, and crockery. Use low-cost wine and water glasses and keep a stock as they are easily broken during the course of the season. Keep it light and fresh.
Remove sentimental and personal items of value. Find yourself a room or cupboard where you can safely store these possessions. It needs to be secure with either a locked door or a padlock. Make sure the room you choose has adequate ventilation to avoid the mould that can appear in our warm and humid climate.
Use mattress and pillow protectors on the guest linen that are breathable and waterproof to save the mattress and pillows from frequent replacement. If there’s an accident, it’s better to have to replace a protector rather than pay for a new mattress.
Limit the quantity of towels and sheets available for clients to use freely. The more you supply the more they will use – and the laundry bill will be a big one. If you have no available space in a lock-away area, ask your property manager if they can store them for changes.
If your bedding is going to be washed using a commercial laundry, it’s best to use white bedding and towels that can be washed at 60º and withstand the washing products that the commercial laundries use which contain bleach. If you use coloured linens and towels, they are likely to fade.
If you are investing in sheets and towels, take advice about the minimum quantity needed for the season.
Supply hand towels and a bath towel instead of a bath sheet; bath towels are bigger in Portugal than in other countries and are sufficient. They cost less to wash too as they weigh less. Again, use your own pillows and put protectors on, or buy some low-cost ones that are washable. Twin pack pillowcases can cost as little as €25.
Rugs: Leave as few as required. The lighter in weight the better, so that the maid can move them when cleaning the floor.
To summarise, once you have prepared your home for letting the first time, it will be ready for the years to come.
There can be great financial benefits for letting your home; be patient and learn as you go. The first season will be the most challenging, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you can add to the experiences that you supply to your guests.
By Karen Love
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