Doing anything for the first time can be daunting. But when it comes to renting out your property it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
To help you get to grips with becoming a landlord and the challenge of finding good tenants, here’s a complete guide to everything you need to know, plus answers to your first-time landlord questions.
First-Time Landlord Checklist
Checklists are helpful in ways beyond simply helping us stay organised – a checklist will also
motivate us to take action and complete goals we set for ourselves.
For a landlord, process is essential, particularly when taking into account the legal nuts and bolts that make up tenancy agreements.
To avoid any unwanted hassle, here's a checklist for you to follow:
1. Preparing your Property First and foremost, the health and safety of your tenant is a top priority. That means you should regularly perform routine check-ups of the property to ensure everything is how it should be. There is also a list of safety measures that you are legally obliged to put in place. For example, passing the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) gas safety inspection. This should be performed annually and, if passed, the certificate should be given to the tenant. Here’s a list of things you need to ensure are health and safety checked before any tenant can move into your rental property:
Sound structure (walls, roofs, stairs, floors). Pretty obvious, right? But you’d be amazed what some landlords leave to chance, thereby putting their tenants at risk!
Plumbing, electrical, ventilation, air conditioning systems
Communal areas like staircases and hallways
Hot water heating systems
Moreover, you also need to take into account the unpleasant possibility of rodent, insect or vermin infestations, as well as environmental contaminants such as lead, mould or asbestos. If you’re yet to pass the health and safety inspection, this is the time to make sure these issues are resolved. Tenants are choosy, and with more opportunities to rent in today's market, making your property as safe and sound as it can be will help you attract the best and most reliable tenants – and then retain them. Beyond that, it is vitally important to inform your current buildings and contents insurer of your intention to let your property, as your policy will probably need to be amended Also consider applying for landlord insurance. Although not a legal requirement, having the policy will cover you from any financial losses connected to your property
2. Legal Stuff. Now onto the legal nitty gritty. When it comes to being a landlord, there are more regulations to comply with than ever before (145 to be exact). Though we’d love to cover all 145, we’ll just cover the key ones. By law, your property requires an Energy Performance Certificate. An EPC reports how energy efficient your house is. This also needs to be included in any advertisements of your property. It's best to check with your local officials on what the EPC equivalent is in your local area. Once you have it, you can follow any advice on improving your rating. In these uncertain times regarding the status of immigrants, it is essential for landlords to check the legal status of their tenants in the country. This is done by assessing their identity documents, such as:
Identity cards (driving licenses etc)
Permanent resident cards
Right to rent documents from Home Office Immigration
Proof of registration as a legal citizen
You can do most of these checks yourself. However, if you feel like you need extra checks, external agencies can be hired to help ease your stress. Once the check is over, you are legally required to report the affirmative/negative status of your tenant(s) to the authorities.
3. Finding the “One” Finding the right tenant can be tricky. You need someone that:
you can depend on,
will pay their rent on time
will keep your house in a good condition
Be careful, don’t rush this. Take the time to screen potential tenants, learn about their credit score and who they are as a person – is there anything about them that worries you? When it’s all said and done this person is a stranger, so you need to make sure that you are 100% comfortable giving them the responsibility of your house.
4. The Lease Agreement Once you’ve found your tenant, the next step is to come up with an appropriate lease agreement. These usually include:
the names of the parties involved
the amount of rent (over an agreed time)
an agreement about whether the tenant can keep pets within the property
Once the agreement is in place, get a legal expert to go through it to make sure all bases are covered. Then, once the lease is fully checked over, go through it with your tenant to ensure no further amendments are required. When both parties are satisfied with the terms, have the lease signed and dated. Many experienced landlords will tell you to collect a security deposit before the tenant moves in. UK law requires you to hold the security deposit in a third party government backed scheme, which is something you must inform your tenants of.
5. Stay Close By It might sound obvious, but you’re only a phone call away in case of emergencies or complaints can go a long way in building a healthy and stable relationship between landlord and tenant. After all, renting out a property can be beneficial for landlords and tenants alike, but only if you take the time to prevent potential pitfalls that may come your way or theirs.
The Bottom Line
In all, being a landlord is a serious and time-consuming commitment. Before beginning the process you must decide whether it is something you think you can handle. Being a landlord is a 24/7 job. The responsibilities are vast and can often come with unexpected costs and problems.
Are you a landlord in the Sunderland area that’s looking for a partner that can take the hassle out of renting out your property?
An expert partner that will free up your time with a personal, hands-on touch that will uplift and maintain your property to a high standard, and guarantee that your tenants enjoy a great rental experience?
If so, please give us a call on 0191 5460 071 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get you up-and-running with fantastic long-term tenants in no time!