<strong>Louise Savage</strong><br />DIRECTOR OF RESIDENTIAL LAND<br /><br /><strong>Q. Dear Louise, I&rsquo;ve seen a lot of websites springing up where you can rent out your property independently. I&rsquo;m tempted but I&rsquo;m a bit nervous. What do you think?<br /></strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> These websites have their place in the market in exactly the same way that letting agents do and they will certainly save you money on agency fees. However, you need to consider carefully whether it is the right method for you to rent out your property, as it is not suitable for everybody.<br /><br />Letting agents are able to list on the prime property portals, which get a lot more internet traffic than small new websites will. You may therefore find that you will have to wait longer to attract interest in your property and also have to work harder to publicise it.<br /><br />Letting out a property independently is hard work. If you don&rsquo;t have the time or don&rsquo;t want to put in the required effort to go it alone, then you might be better off paying the agent&rsquo;s fees. You will have to do the viewings yourself &ndash; if a prospective tenant wanted a daytime viewing, would your job or other commitments allow you to make it? And before the property even goes on the market, you will need to organise getting an energy performance certificate, which is a legal requirement. <br /><br />Seemingly simple things like drawing up a tenancy agreement also take up time. To help independent landlords, the British Property Federation has launched its own tenancy agreement. All you need to do is fill in the details and a tenancy agreement is created for you for free. Many first-time landlords don&rsquo;t know where to get started when it comes to organising these things, so this is really helpful.<br /><br /><strong>Q. Dear Louise, I recently rented out a property with some friends and I&rsquo;d like to decorate my room to make it more homely. Can I do this?</strong><br /><br /><strong>A.</strong> When you rent a property, the landlord will usually expect it back in the same condition, save for fair wear and tear. You are best to speak to your landlord about what improvements you want to make and ask them whether it might be a possibility. <br /><br />Even if you think that what you want to do is an improvement, the landlord might see things differently. Agreed, a new lick of paint or some shelves might make it more attractive, but it is much easier to rent out properties that have neutral colours rather than rooms that are painted pink or red, for example.<br /><br />Therefore, the landlord is quite likely to require you to restore the room to its original state at the end of the tenancy, particularly if you have made some big changes. If you don&rsquo;t do it yourself before you check out of the property, then you might have money taken out of your deposit to cover the redecorating. <br /><br />Landlords are well within their rights to do this, even for something as small as picture hooks, so bear in mind that you will have to go to the effort of redecorating again at the end of the tenancy and pay for it too. Ask yourself whether the effort is worth it and always check with the landlord so you know where you stand before you do anything.<br /><br /><strong>Our rental expert is Louise Savage, director of Residential Land, London&rsquo;s largest prime central London landlord. <br />www.residentialland.com </strong>