Deciding to become a landlord is a big move. You’ll be providing your tenants with a place to call home – sometimes for many years.
Before thinking about advertising your property, there are some steps to take to make sure it’s up to standard. This means understanding your legal obligations and ensuring it’s attractive to potential tenants.
In this week’s blog, we talk about the laws you need to know and share our top tips for making sure your property appeals to the right tenant…
Getting your property ready
Before putting your property on the market, there may be a few tweaks you can make to increase its value. Tenants will naturally look for certain benefits and pay special attention to rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms. If these are in good order, they might just need a deep-clean or new coat of paint. Refreshing cupboards or covering any tired work surfaces can make a huge difference to tenants’ first impressions.
If you’re letting out the property furnished, update any old appliances and furniture. Keep any new purchases neutral so your tenants can put their own stamp on the property. Make sure you complete any repairs so the house looks good throughout and remove any personal items you wouldn’t want to be broken.
If the property has a garden, clean up the area and cut back any plants so the whole space can be viewed. Checking out the survey which was completed prior to buying the property will help you to understand any hidden problems.
Choosing the right tenants
When preparing your property, you should have a clear picture of the kind of tenant you need to attract and their needs. For example, if you want to target the university market, students will usually start looking for a property in the December/ January prior to the next academic year.
Before agreeing to a tenancy, you must carry out reference and credit checks (and Right to Rent checks if your property is in England). Organise a detailed inventory of the property which includes dated photographs. Although it’s natural not to consider the end of the tenancy before it’s even begun, the inventory will be key if you need to claim any money back for any damage after tenants have moved out.
Knowing your obligations
The safety of your tenants should always be your first priority. Before you start marketing your property, you must understand the laws that govern the private-rented sector.
There are several actions you need to take at the start of the tenancy in order to stay within the law and avoid any penalties:
Energy efficiency: find out the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating. From April 2018, landlords in England and Wales will need to make sure their properties have a rating of at least an E. There are some exceptions, but landlords must prove they’ve made the necessary improvements to meet the standards. Read more here.
An energy assessor will be able to supply an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Your tenants should also receive a copy of this certificate.
Health and safety: install smoke alarms on every floor and carbon monoxide alarms in any room that where solid fuel (e.g. coal, wood or biomass) is burned. If you have gas appliances, you must arrange an annual Gas Safety certificate from a gas safe registered engineer and pass your tenants a copy. You must carry out a Legionnaire’s Disease risk assessment on the property before renting it. Also, give each appliance a PAT Test.
Licensing: check whether your property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and apply for the correct licence with the local authority. Read more about licensing in one of our previous blogs.
How to Rent Guide: in England, you’ll need to hand your new tenant a copy of the Government’s How to Rent Guide.
Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP): landlords must protect a tenant’s deposit by registering it in one of three government-approved schemes. Although written agreements aren’t a legal requirement, Stirling Ackroyd always provides an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement, so the tenant and landlord are both clear on their rights and responsibilities. Make sure you also protect your property with the right landlord insurance.
Client Money Protection: as a landlord, it’s likely you’ll need to find a responsible agent to help source a tenant and manage your property. At Stirling Ackroyd, we’re proud to be an ARLA Propertymark Protected agent. This means our team is made-up of experienced professionals who complete regular training to keep up-to-date with complex legislation and best practice.
We’re also backed by Propertymark’s Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme which means that you and your money are safeguarded.
Find a professional letting agent…
If you are looking to rent a property and need to source the ideal tenant, contact our team of local experts in branch today by visiting here. Our lettings team will also take the strain away from managing your property with our Fully Managed Plus service, leaving you free to reap the rewards.