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A Gap in the Rental Market

Bulgaria’s rental market is growing as more tourists visit the country and the local populous becomes more affluent and seeks out better living quarters closer to their place of work. This means that if you own a city pad or a resort property, renting it out should be easier.

The market for long-term rentals is growing and indeed finding a cost-effective long-term property is becoming difficult. Many landlords still favour and seek out income from the tourist market because this yields higher rates, although it means that their properties stand vacant for at least half of the year.


One area of potential rental income that is often overlooked is the rental market for village properties. Quest Bulgaria takes a look at how you can maximize your rental potential in this area.


The Target Market

The market for a village property is diverse. It consists of young villagers with jobs who are becoming more independent and are looking to move out of their family homes and share with friends just as youths do in the West. Additionally, the mass of construction across the country has meant that many builders employed in an area often come from the other side of the country and need accommodation to cover their stay during the term of their project. Many of these construction workers are extremely skilled and transfer to a neighbouring build as their project completes.

Expats also belong to this target group; more and more families are choosing Bulgaria as their permanent place of residence and they need accommodation whilst they wait for their homes to be built or whilst they shop around or put a toe in the water trying the Bulgarian lifestyle. Finally local and expats who have decided to separate also need alternative accommodation. Additionally, if you are prepared to be open about taking smokers or people with pets you will increase your rental potential.


Finding Tenants

There are many ways to put the word out locally that your place is for rent. An ad in the local shop in English and Bulgarian is a good place to start as is a poster in the local English bars. Tell your neighbours to spread the word that you are looking for a tenant and post messages on all of the expat websites.

You will need to find a reliable key-holder to show people round your property and deal with any issues whilst you are away. Make sure you find someone you can trust – most people come to an arrangement about paying the key-holder for a job well done with products from the UK or a few Levs each time you visit.


The Benefits

Believe it or not your house needs to be lived in to combat problems like damp. Air circulates in a lived in house allowing the property to literally breathe.

Moreover, you are less likely to come on holiday and find that your pipes have leaked and the place is flooded in dank water or thieves have broken in and stolen everything you own.

A tenant will ensure that routine maintenance is carried out when it is needed, most will bring in a friend and tackle the issue themselves. If they see it as their long-term home they will also add to the property by doing the garden, renovating the kitchen or painting the rooms.


Getting a Tenancy Agreement

No matter how well you know the people you are renting your home to, it is still worth going to the notary with them and drawing up a tenancy agreement.


Within the contract you can include clauses which state that all utility bills are the responsibility of the renter, periods when you need to reclaim the house for your own with the clause to re-let the house after this period and a rule or fee for replacing breakages and damages to the property.

You must also stipulate what the rent is and how it should be paid – some people even ask for several months in advance.

Most long-term agreements cover a six month period and automatically renew providing both parties are happy to continue. Squatters in Bulgaria do not have any rights and it is very easy to evict someone from your property should you need to. The police are happy to help providing you have a legal tenancy agreement and can prove your ownership through your Notary Act.


Insuring Your Property

If you are renting out your home then it is well worth taking out building and contents insurance to cover you against the unforeseen. You can get good insurance from a wide range of companies here, but you must state that you will be renting out your home and in most cases it is worth going armed with an inventory of any valuable or high-cost possessions.


Rental Income

The issue with this long let market is that they are not willing and cannot afford to pay holiday villa prices and for that reason they seek out village properties with lower rents.

Most village properties are rented out at between 300 to 400 lv. per month with utility bills on top.

Some people are prepared to take in lodgers to their own home and this type of accommodation generally costs around 100 lv. per month with an agreement on splitting bills.

Whilst this is not a massive amount of income, if your property is standing vacant for most of the year there are many benefits to letting it out. Many landlords use the money to pay for further renovations or for a gardener to keep on top of the massive expanse of land they purchased; others store up the money in a Bulgarian bank account to use for their holiday here, which means that in effect they get their vacations in Bulgaria free of charge.


What Have You Got to Lose?

Unless you have furnished your village property to palatial standards and are extremely possessive about whom you invite into your home, then you have absolutely nothing to lose and an awful lot to gain from renting out your property long term.

What is the worst case scenario? If your tenant steals property from you you will be covered by your insurance policy and the police will pursue the perpetrator. Accidental damage to a property can also be covered by your insurance company and, let’s face it – you may have caused some damage yourself if you were living in the house – we all burn pans and break glasses from time to time! The most important issue is not to get sentimental, if there is anything in the property you could not bear to see broken then remove it.

Wear and tear in a home is not such a bad thing when offset against the dangers of leaving a property vacant for eleven months of the year.