Preparing your property to let
Deciding to become a landlord is a big step. You’ll be providing your tenants with a place to call home – sometimes for a long period of time.
Before you put a property on the rental market, you need 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 guide, we talk about the laws you need to know and share our advice for maximising your property to attract the ideal tenant…
Getting your property ready
Before placing your property on the market, there may be a few tweaks you can make to maximise its value. Tenants will naturally seek out certain benefits and take a closer look at rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms. If these rooms are in generally good order, they might just need a thorough deep-clean or new coat of paint. Refreshing cupboards or covering any tired work surfaces can make a huge difference to the appearance of a room.
If you’re letting 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 property is well-presented throughout and remove any items with sentimental value.
If the property has a garden, tidy up the area and cut back any plants so prospective tenants can view the whole space. Looking at the survey which was conducted prior to purchasing the property will help you to understand any hidden issues.
Choosing the right tenants
When preparing your property to let, you should have a clear picture of the kind of tenant you want and their needs. For example, if you wish to target the university market, students will usually start searching for a property in the December/ January before the next academic year.
Before taking on a tenant, 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 think about the end of the tenancy before it’s even begun, the inventory will be vital if you need to claim any money back from the tenant for any damage after they have moved out.
Knowing your obligations
The safety of your tenants should always be your biggest priority. Before you even start to think about 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 comply with 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 provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). You must also give your tenants a copy of this certificate.
Health and safety: make sure you 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 give your tenants a copy. You must carry out a Legionnaire’s Disease risk assessment on the property before renting it. 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 here.
How to Rent Guide: in England, you’ll need to pass your new tenant a copy of the Government’s How to Rent Guide before they take up occupancy.
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, Townends 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 Townends, 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 find the perfect tenant, contact our team of local experts in branch today by calling 020 3911 3673 or email us today to find out more. Our team will also take the strain away from managing your property with our Fully Managed Plus service, leaving you free to enjoy the benefits - find out more today.