Can you manage your rental property from abroad?
Yes you can, but you need to be take several steps to make sure you don’t fall foul of lettings, tax and deposit protection rules.
First of all, you must still provide your tenants with a UK address where they can serve notice when they want to leave. You could use a parent’s or other close relative or just a friend’s address but it must be somewhere where they can reach you.
If you are going to be out of the country for six months, your letting agent or any tenant paying more than £100 a week directly into your bank account will be obliged to deduct tax at the basic rate from your rental income and pass this on to HMRC on your behalf, unless you apply for exemption.
You can do this if you register or are already registered with HMRC as self-assessment. Once you’ve done this you’ll need to fill out form NRL1i and submit it to your local tax office for approval. Once you get a letter approving your exemption, you’ll need to show this to your letting agent or tenant.
Also bear in mind that if you are living abroad, you won’t be able to use HMRC’s online service to submit your tax return. You’ll have to send it by post, so you’ll have to get it to the tax office by the end of September (4 months earlier than online applications), hire an accountant to do it for you or buy software to submit it electronically.
If you take a deposit, you must use the custodial scheme to protect it, which means that you can’t keep the money in your own account, you have to hand it over to the scheme’s administrators.
Aside from these considerations, you shouldn’t have any problems managing a rental property from abroad, especially if you are still roughly in the same time zone and as long as you have good internet access.
Obviously you’ll need to hire an agent to find new tenants and if you’re going to be living abroad for a while, it would be sensible to make a trip home every few months to carry out an internal and external inspection of your rental property or pay a friend to do it for you.
However, if you’re moving away permanently or you’ll be living somewhere with unreliable communications, it might make more sense to hire a good letting agent. Managing a rental property from abroad might still be possible, but it would be much easier, less stressful and less risky to use a third party.