The Accidental Landlord’s Checklist
So you’re a landlord… what now?!
So, you’ve become an ‘accidental landlord’ and you want to do this properly (not to mention stick to all the rules and regulations) but aren’t quite sure where to start.
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So when it comes to renting out a property successfully, we’ve got you covered.
What is an accidental landlord?
You are an accidental landlord if you didn’t necessarily intend to become a landlord but have found yourself being exactly that, and now need to rent out a property:
- Moving away. Maybe your job has posted you to the Caribbean and you need to rent out your home while you’re abroad
- Moving in together. If you’re moving in with a partner, you may decide to rent out one or both of your properties, rather than sell up
- Inheritance. If you’ve inherited a property, you may decide that you want to rent it out, rather than sell it
Whatever the circumstances, if you have a property and are new to this, you may be a little unsure of what you need to do and what you need to know – even if you had planned to become a landlord!
So let’s break down what boxes you need to tick from a regulatory point of view.
What are my first steps after becoming an accidental landlord?
According to Propertywire, around 7% of landlords in the UK in 2021 were ‘accidental’.
First of all, we’d suggest checking in on the mortgage, if you have one. You’ll probably need to update your current residential mortgage to a buy-to-let one and will need to speak to your lender about this.
You must let your lender know that you intend to let. As with everything in life, some are ok with this, and others may have a bit more ‘red tape’. Either way – you’ll need to change products or firm up a buy-to-let mortgage.
You will also need to find out how much you can rent it out for and we can help you out with that with our free Market Valuation Tool.
Next you should consider joining Mashroom. It’s free, and we really do our utmost to ensure that absolutely any renting, letting, landlord or tenant questions you have will be answered.
What checks do I need to do on the property before I can rent it out?
There are a few things that you must have in place by law. And for obvious reasons, including keeping on the right side of the law and avoiding any costly fines.
Each year you must have a Gas Safety inspection carried out and an up-to-date Gas Safety Certificate approved by a qualified engineer. Here at Mashroom, we offer landlords professional checks to guarantee your property has a valid certificate and it costs just £79.
You also need an EICR – or Electrical Installation Condition Report. This is an in-depth inspection of your property’s electrical installations to ensure they are safe for your tenants. It became law to do this every five years in 2021. Ours costs just £225 – no matter where your property is located or how many rooms it has!
Every 10 years, but certainly before a tenant moves in, you need to have an Electrical Performance Certificate (EPC) inspection carried out. Again, the law requires this, and you need to have one carried out by an accredited domestic energy assessor and you can check on the Government’s official EPC register. EPC minimum requirements are going up, so if you make any improvements to your property that would increase the rating, definitely update your EPC! You can arrange one via the click of a button for £69 with Mashroom.
You need to provide your tenant with copies of these reports as well as:
- Prescribed Information. Make sure that the deposit is protected within 30 days of receipt and you have given the tenant a copy of the prescribed information, which details how the deposit has been protected and what will happen to it when the tenant leaves
- Fire alarm and carbon monoxide alarm check. There’s no certificate to prove your alarms are in working order, but you need to make sure that they are before the tenant moves in. You need to have a fire alarm on every floor and a CO alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance. We recommend filming yourself checking all of these alarms as proof the check was carried out
What checks need to be done after my tenants move in?
When a tenant moves in, we recommend having a check in report carried out as well as an inventory. These make sure that you have documented the condition of the flat and everything in it at the start of a tenancy.
These help with any disputes later down the line as you can refer to these documents and using a third party to do this keeps it professional, rather than personal. You must make the inventory available to your tenant as well.
You should also consider tenant referencing before they move in, as this is best practice to find the right tenant. If you decide to invest in Rent Guarantee Insurance (which you should, to save worrying about rent arrears!), you will need to reference the tenants before you can take the insurance out.
What about maintenance?
If you are renting a property unfurnished, only the property is up to you to maintain. But any decent landlord will want to keep their property in a good state of repair, for the benefit of everyone. This means paint, carpets, woodwork etc. You don’t have to have a top of the range kitchen or bathroom installed, but a property in a good state of repair is likely to be rented for more money and kept in a good state of repair.
You might be a whizz at DIY and be able to do some things yourself. Having a recommended and trustworthy tradesperson on hand for any repairs is always a good idea, but if you don’t have any tradespeople on call, we can arrange for tradespeople to quote and carry out any works required if needed.
It’s also worth investing in insurance to cover the cost of any emergencies. Issues with property can be costly to correct, so having Home Emergency Insurance and Buildings Insurance is the best plan, so you won’t have to pay for any problems out of your own pocket.
Is there a process to follow if my tenants are unhappy?
Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, relationships can break down. If you are managing your rental property yourself, obviously you will do your best to keep the relationship positive.
If you have done everything you should, you should be able to rest easy. Try and talk things through calmly with your tenant and provide any documentation you are required to by law. You must always give your tenant appropriate notice if you want to visit or check the property
Landlords cannot simply evict their tenants and a tenant cannot simply move out without paying if they have signed a contract. There are rules and processes in place to protect both parties.
If you and your tenant cannot reach a solution amicably, they can seek an independent review or advice from Citizens Advice, or some local authorities have a tenancy relations service which can assist them.
What happens if I don’t stick to the rules?
Well, it depends on the scenario. Everyone knows that sticking to the rules is always advisable, and if it is something you must do by law, you must operate within the law.
In the worst-case scenarios, failing to carry out checks which the law demands, could see you end up with a prison sentence, which is obviously far from ideal and should be avoided at all costs!
You might also be banned from being a private landlord or slapped with a hefty fine.
If it’s a bit less serious, such as not making a document available to your tenant, your local housing authority might become involved and give you a telling off and make sure you do it.
But while being a landlord isn’t easy, there are a lot of moving parts to consider, it doesn’t have to be difficult if you stay on top of your legal responsibilities and aim to try and do the best for your tenants.