Have you just bought a property and you are looking to let it out? Are you wanting to become a landlord for the first time, but you don’t know where to start?
Anthony Irving, Lettings Manager at our Marble Arch branch offers your some tried and tested hot tips guaranteed to set your property apart from others on the market and to speed up the process of finding a tenant.
Our guide outlines essential procedures & responsibilities that will help new & existing landlords understand what is required of them before, during & after they have tenants lined up to move into their property.
Here are our 30 top tips to help you become a great landlord.
Repair & renovate the property.
A clean, tidy and maintained property is going to be much more appealing to potential tenants. The better the repairs & renovations are now, the easier they will be to maintain in the future. If you are not doing the work yourself, always check around for good quotes from reputable companies.
Make sure all risk assessments are up to date.
These assessments must include Legionella, Fire & Asbestos.
Check & install smoke & carbon monoxide alarms.
Make sure that the smoke & carbon monoxide alarms are installed & working correctly, they save lives. Working smoke alarms must be installed on every floor of a property. If your property has any rooms that contain a solid fuel appliance, such as a wood burning stove, working open fire, etc. you must also install carbon monoxide alarms in those rooms.
Make sure buildings & landlord insurance is up to date.
It is best practise for you to have buildings & landlord insurance. Make sure that this is up to date. If you don’t have buildings & landlord insurance, there are plenty of insurance brokers in the market, shop around to get the best deals.
Gas safety certificates must be kept up to date.
It is a legal requirement to have all gas appliances checked annually by a registered engineer.
Arrange an EPC.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) must be obtained to comply with Law. An inspection must take place that will take measurements, details about the construction and the type of heating & hot waters systems that are in the property. An EPC report will contain recommendations & approximate savings per year if improvements are needed.
Create an inventory.
The inventory gives the details of the condition & it’s contents of the property before a tenant moves in. There are many free & paid options for an inventory check.
Find a tenant.
It’s time to find someone to live in your property! Take some photographs that can be used on online agents’ websites, newspaper adverts or letting agents to find a tenant for the property.
A professional tenant reference can give you essential details about the people who are looking to move into your property. It would inform you of any criminal convictions, financial information & renting history. It is good practise to know who you are handing the keys to your property to. Always check that the potential tenants have the right to live in the UK. UK passports, European Economic Area passport or identity cards, permanent residence cards or travel documents showing indefinite leave to remain are all considered identity documents by the Government.
Create & sign a tenancy agreement.
The most common form of tenancy agreement is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). This should include names of the tenants, the rental price & how it will be paid, the start & end date of the tenancy as well as any obligations that the tenant & the landlord have.
Provide an up to date copy of ‘How to Rent’ guide created by the Government.
Landlords must provide an up to date copy of the ‘How to Rent’ guide. This will explain the rights & responsibilities that you and your tenants have.
Take a deposit & first month’s rent.
Landlords are entitled to request a deposit, just in case any damage or rent arrears occur during a tenant’s occupancy. This is usually the amount of 1 months’rent. As a landlord, you may also want to have the first months rent up front.
Certificate of Deposit Protection.
If a tenant has provided a deposit, then the landlord must protect it in a Government approved scheme, such as, Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or Tenancy Deposit Scheme, within 30 days. You as the landlord must provide the official information to the tenant about how they will receive their deposit at the end of the tenancy.
Notify local council of new tenants.
For the new tenants to pay the correct amount of council tax, the local council must be informed of the changes.
Let the utilities company know.
If you have agreed within the AST that the new tenants will be paying the utility bills, you must let them know of the changes. Let the tenants know who the current providers of gas, electric and water, the tenant has the right to switch providers if they wish.
What days do the bins go out?
It sounds simple, but this type of information is vital for new tenants. How many different bins do they have? What days are they collected?
Front door, back door, shed, window, garage… Make sure your new tenant has all the keys that they need for the property.
Locations of meters.
Your new tenant must be shown where the meters for gas, electric & water are.
Show the tenants how to use the boiler.
Nothing would be worse than spending a cold winters day without having been shown how to use the boiler. Make sure you show the tenant how to operate the boiler.
Show your tenants how to use the appliances.
Your tenants may never have seen or used the appliances such as the washing machine or the dishwasher that you have in the property before. A quick lesson will help everyone get settled in faster.
Your property is a tenant’s new home.
You can’t access the property whenever you like, you must give the tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before you visit, unless its an emergency. Keep in mind that it is the tenant’s home now.
Communication is key.
It is always best practise to log all communications between yourselves and your tenants. Keep an email chain so that you can keep any key information if you need to present it at any time. Respond to any feedback or complaints within 14 days. Popping round to check on the property is not an option without clear communication at least 24 hours in advance.
Inspect to protect.
As we noted previously, communication is key. It is always best to inspect the property from time to time. Always communicate your plan to inspect with the tenant at least 24 hours in advance of the visit. Communicate with the tenants as you inspect, find out of any issues or concerns or check if any jobs need being carried out. Give your feedback to the tenant, make sure you can work together in order maintain the property.
Maintain the property.
Before you were looking for new tenants, you had repaired & renovated the property. Keep up those standards by doing any repair work that may need completed during a tenancy period. Tenants will only be responsible for maintaining their own fixtures & fittings, not those that were provided by you in the inventory.
The AST is coming to an end…What happens now?
You have come to the end of the AST, what is next for you & the tenant? You both have decisions to make. Do you wish to continue with the current tenants & renew the AST or ask them to move out of the property? They might have already made the decision to move on, in that case you would have been communicating about this. The tenants must give you one months’ notice in this situation. Communication is key.
The current tenancy agreement has been decided to be ended with both parties moving on. Notice must be given on either side, for everyone to get ready for the future. If you are wanting the tenants to leave, then it is a legal requirement for you to give them two months’ notice once the fixed period has come to an end unless there is a breakout clause in the AST.
Start to find new tenants.
We are back to square one… or Tip 8! It is time to find a new tenant for your property. You are restarting the checklist from this point. You are repairing & renovating, making sure all the risk assessments are up to date, all the gas safety certificates are in date etc. Making sure the property is looking great for when potential new tenants are visiting.
Revisit the inventory.
As the tenants are preparing to vacate the property, for everyone to receive the right amount of deposit back, you must go back and revisit the inventory. Check the property & the furnishings for any damage caused, but not for reasonable wear & tear, as this will be your responsibility. This must be agreed by yourselves & the tenants before any deposit can be returned.
Agree on returning deposit.
Once the inventory and the property has been checked, you must agree with the tenants the amount of the initial deposit you will be returning to them. Once you and the tenants have agreed on an amount, then you must repay the deposit within 10 days. If there are any disagreements from the tenants about how much of the deposit will be withheld from them then they have the right to make a complaint to your deposit protection scheme (Tip 13).
Start from scratch.
The tenants have moved out & its time to start the process again :-)