Top tips for first-time landlords
Becoming a landlord for the first time can be somewhat daunting, especially with the growing number of laws governing the private rented sector.
As well as being aware of current legislation, you also need to think of the best ways to attract tenants to your property and keep them for the long-term. This is no easy feat, but there are certain steps you can take to achieve a successful let.
As established letting agents in Putney, Richmond and Mortlake, here at Parkgate Estates we’ve put together some top tips for first-time landlords on how to prepare your property for a tenancy while remining on the right side of the law.
Check landlord licensing and insurance
Before your property can legally be rented out, you will need to check if you require a landlord license from your local council. This legislation was introduced in 2006, with the purpose of ensuring landlords maintain their rental properties to a good standard.
You will also need to inform your buildings insurer that you’re renting your property out, as you risk invalidating your policy otherwise. It’s also worth taking out specialist landlord insurance as a safeguard; a good policy will cover a loss of rent, damage, legal expense and liabilities.
Reference your tenants
Tenant referencing is a crucial part of the letting process as it helps you to check a tenant’s credibility and if they will be able to pay rent on time each month. Of course, your letting agent will be on hand to help you find the right occupants for the tenancy.
The process includes a number of checks, such as a tenant’s income against the rent, their employment status, credit checks, salary and length of service, and referencing from their current landlord – assuming they are already renting.
Most importantly, you must check that your tenants have the right to lawfully live in the UK. Failure to undertake a Right to Rent check under the Immigration Act 2014 can result in a fine or even a custodial sentence.
You will also need to protect your tenant’s deposit in one of the government-authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes – Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme – within 30 days of receiving it.
Since the Tenant Fees Act was introduced, security deposits are capped at five weeks’ rent if the annual rent is under £50,000 and six weeks’ rent if the annual rent is above this figure. What’s more, there are a selection of fees that tenants can no longer be charged for. These include:
• Administration fees
• Inventory fees
• Credit check fees
• Cleaning fees
• Referencing fees
• Guarantor fees
For more information on this, you can read our recent blog on a full breakdown of the Tenant Fees Act, deposits and other costs.
Make sure your property is safe
As a landlord, you’re responsible for ensuring your rental property is as safe as possible for your tenants. This means making sure all gas appliances are checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer every year and providing tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate within 28 days of the annual check.
In addition to this, fire alarms should be fitted on every storey of the property from the start of the tenancy agreement, and carbon monoxide detectors must be in any room where solid fuel is used. Both alarms must be tested on the first day of the tenancy.
And, as of 1 April 2019, you must serve your tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate with a minimum rating of E before letting your property. If you’re caught arranging a new let without ensuring your property is up to these standards, you could be fined.
Arrange a tenancy agreement
Once you’ve found suitable tenants with the help of your letting agent, it’s important that you provide them with a tenancy agreement. This official contract will give them the right to live in your property, and you the right to receive rent from them.
The agreement will detail the duration of the tenancy, a breakdown of payments and the required notice period if the tenancy is terminated. The most common tenancy type is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).
If you don’t have your own tenancy agreement, your letting agent can provide a template for sample agreements.
Get the property rent-ready
It’s key that your property is well-maintained and safe for people to live in. While this might sound obvious, it’s a step that can easily get overlooked during the administration process.
Ensure that your home is thoroughly cleaned and all quick fixes have been made prior to putting it on the market. Also, decide on whether you want to let your rental property as furnished, unfurnished or part-furnished, and remove any personal items or furniture.
Once the tenancy has begun, be sure to undertake regular inspections of your rental property. Keep in mind, though, that you cannot enter the property without the tenant’s permission as this is classed as trespassing.
With the private rented sector continuing to grow, now is the perfect time to be a landlord. By taking the above tips into consideration, you can prepare your rental property for new tenants and have a smooth-running tenancy with the help of your letting agent.
For more information on letting your property in Richmond, Sheen, Mortlake and Putney, please get in touch with us on 020 8940 2991.
Also, if you’re eager to know how much you could charging in rent each month, you can request a free and instant online lettings valuation today.