Whether it’s your first time letting property, or you’re a seasoned landlord, there are several factors that you need to get in order and keep track of before, during and after a tenant moves in. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it will provide a handy guide to some of the elements of being a landlord you should keep an eye on to make it the best experience for you and your renter.
Can I actually rent out my property?
If you’re the freeholder of your property, then you shouldn’t have any issues. The only change to be aware of is that if you’re planning to charge ground rent, you won’t be able to after the 30th of June, 2022.
If you have a mortgage on the property, you aren’t technically a freeholder yet and need to have a buy-to-let mortgage before you can start.
If you’re renting the property yourself and would like to sublet, you need to check with the freeholder first.
Prepare the property for rental
This goes further than giving the skirting boards a wipe-down and fixing that pesky pipe, and it might set you back more than you originally anticipated. The good news is that you can save money in the long run by investing wisely at the start, and it’s nice to know you’ve reduced the risk of problems down the line. It is also important for any prospective landlord to have a solid “Move-in, Move-out Checklist” in order.”
Firstly, you will want an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), as it’s a legal requirement. Before you do so, however, you will want to make sure you get the best score you possibly can. Older properties are naturally going to receive a lower score as they haven’t been designed with new regulations in mind, but you can still improve them drastically. This can include getting proper insulation, a new energy-efficient boiler, and energy-saving lightbulbs. These initial costs will end up saving you money in the long run as well, as well as making your property more attractive.
You will also want to think about what sort of tenants you want to attract. If the property is in the proximity of a university, it might not only be easier to get students but more difficult to get long-term renters. This will also likely determine how and if you want to furnish the property. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding this, and it’s not black and white for either the tenant or landlord. Some things you will want to look at are the location, the type of leaseholder you can expect to want to live in that area, and whether or not they are likely to need furniture or bring their own. Be aware that any furniture you do provide will have to meet safety standards, for example, be fire-resistant.
Get your insurance right
You will also want to let your insurance company know that you’re going to be letting, and you won’t be the primary residence. This will likely include changing to landlord’s insurance which will protect you in future if the tenant causes any damage or losses in general.
If you’re on a buy-to-let mortgage, your mortgage lender will most definitely want some sort of cover for the building itself. Building insurance will cover most losses, including the rebuilding or repairing of the home itself, mostly due to fires, floods and other causes. This is the one type of insurance you will assumably have, mortgage or not.
Contents insurance is particularly useful if you plan on renting furnished or partly furnished. It will cover any damage, loss or theft of items.
Next is Landlord liability insurance, which covers any injuries or deaths on your property. If you’re thinking of renting out to students, then you’ll often find that universities have this as a mandatory requirement. It also protects you from being sued if a tenant has an accident on your property.
What checks should I perform now I'm renting out my property?
Yes, you’ve got it right. It’s not as simple as handing the keys over and waiting for the rent to roll in. As a landlord, you have various safety standards you have to uphold and adhere to annually.
Fire safety is perhaps the most well-known. You must not only provide a smoke alarm on each floor but also test it occasionally. If there is a fireplace or other solid fuel burner, a carbon monoxide alarm is also necessary. Furniture must be fire safe, escape routes should never be blocked. If your property is an HMO, some more rules apply.
You will need to get a Gas Safe registered engineer to maintain appliances like a gas boiler. A safety check must be performed annually, and your tenants should be provided with a record of it. Since 2018, you can get the checks done two months in advance of the annual check date.
If you’re providing electrical appliances to your tenants, then they should be safe to use and marked CE.
Unlike other checks, the EICR (electrical installation condition report) only needs to be completed every five years. You can also get the PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) done, although it is not a legal requirement. It is, however, recommended to do so annually to ensure you do not get into legal trouble if supplied appliances become faulty.
End of tenancy
You’ll want to make sure that the property is in as good nick as you left it when you handed the keys over. Checking for obvious signs of wear and tear or dirt is a given and should all be covered by the tenancy agreement. Make sure to check for other, less obvious signs of damage, like burst pipes, mould and pest infestation. Check to make sure all appliances are working as expected, as well as the electrics that you supplied.
If there are signs of unfair wear and tear, then you should be able to withhold the tenant’s deposit to cover it. An example of this might be a burn mark on a carpet, but you will unlikely be able to withhold the deposit if the carpet is simply old and needs replacing.
Landlords with large portfolios
If you’re a landlord with a large portfolio, it makes sense to invest in BCM by Vericon Systems. BCM allows landlords and property owners to remotely report on, predict and rectify a number of common housing stock challenges, armed with real-world data.
Find out more about BCM here.