The Landlord Checklist: 9 Things Every Landlord Needs to Know
Whether you’re new to landlording or an old pro, we’ve got a comprehensive guide on everything you need in order to be legally compliant protected and have a smooth running tenancy.
Tip #1: Know the Law
Make sure you know everything you need to before you rent out a property. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people rent first and worry later.
You need to make sure that you understand the nationwide laws that you’re subject to, but it’s also important to make sure you know all about the local landlord-tenant laws, like whether or not you need a licence in order to rent in your borough.
This will help you avoid any legal trouble down the road because if you as the landlord fail to meet your statutory legal requirements and your property is damaged as a result of this negligence, it’s very unlikely that your insurer would pay out, so here’s a quick refresher so that you can make sure you’re ticking all the boxes:
- Gas Safety Certification: Update every 12 months and make sure that your tenants have a copy of the up-to-date certificate once everything has been cleared.
- EICR: Update every five years and again, make sure your tenant has the updated certificate once the property has been cleared
- EPC: This needs to be updated every 10 years, but if it expires while you have a tenant in situ, you can wait to update it when the tenancy renews. As always, your tenant will need a copy of the certificate
- Right to Rent checks: Before the start of a new tenancy you must check that all tenants aged 18 and over have right to rent in the UK and you must also check all new incoming tenants. It’s against the law to only check people who you think are not British citizens
- How to Rent Guide: All tenants should have a copy of the Guide, you can find the latest version on the government website
- Deposit protection: You MUST protect tenants deposits in a government-approved scheme within 30 days of receiving that deposit. There are three government-approved deposit protection schemes in the UK: the Deposit Protection Service, My Deposits and Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Once protected, you must provide your tenant with information about which scheme their deposit is protected in, including the contact details for the scheme and how to apply for the deposit back at the end of the tenancy.
- Smoke and CO2 alarms: Landlords in the UK are required to provide smoke alarms on every floor of their rental property and carbon monoxide alarms in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a wood burning stove or a coal fire.
Tip #2: Get the Right Cover
Regular homeowners insurance won’t cover you if you’re renting out the property. You need to make sure to get landlord specific insurance which will protect you in case of any damages or accidents.
All of your insurance should be landlord specific, from Home Emergency to Buildings Insurance. The latter is particularly important because you can’t secure your buy-to-let mortgage without it and it has to be landlord specific for a couple of reasons:
- You aren’t in the property so you can’t be as attentive as you would be if you were an owner-occupier
- You are completely reliant on your tenant to let you know about any small issues before they become big ones
Landlord specific Buildings Insurance takes this additional risk onto account and covers you for it.
Top #3: Screen Your Tenants
Finding good tenants is key to being a successful and stress-free landlord, so make sure to conduct a thorough background check including credit and criminal history.
Mashroom’s tenant referencing involves checking a potential tenant’s:
- Employment status
- Credit history
- Rental history
It is important for landlords to conduct a thorough tenant referencing process to ensure that they’re renting to reliable and trustworthy tenants. Landlords may also require guarantor for tenants who don’t meet a certain financial criteria, such as having a poor credit score or low income. The guarantor is responsible for paying rent and covering any damages in case the tenant is unable to do so.
Tenant referencing is something that can set your mind at ease, knowing you have the right tenant, but it is also a necessary step if you want Rent Guarantee Insurance.
Tip #4: Set the Right Rent
Do some research to determine what the going rate is for similar properties in the area. You don’t want to overcharge and scare away potential tenants, but you also don’t want to sell yourself short.
To choose the right rent for a UK property landlords should do some research to determine the going rate for similar properties in the area. This can be done by check online listings, contacting other landlords or using a rental valuation service like Mashroom’s Market Value Calculator.
It’s important to strike a balance between setting a fair rent and making a profit, without pricing yourself out of the market. Times are hard at the moment with increased interest rates driving up your mortgage repayments, but it’s worth remembering that tenant costs are also increasing, so take the time to do the research and find the right rent for you.
Tip #5: Make Sure Your Tenancy Agreement is Correct
The tenancy agreement is a legally binding agreement between you and your tenant that outlines the terms of the rental. Make sure it covers everything from rent payments and maintenance responsibilities to whether or not they’re allowed to smoke in the property.
If you use Mashroom’s Let and Protect packages, we take this off your hands and produce a legally binding tenancy agreement you can edit to suit your needs.
Tip #6: Establish a Maintenance Plan
As the landlord, it is your responsibility to keep the property in good condition. Make sure to have a plan in place for regular maintenance and and repairs, this means inspecting the property to check on things and making it clear to the tenants that you are available should they notice anything wrong.
Your tenants letting you know about a small leak as soon as they notice it could save you a lot of money in the long run! In the UK there is no set limit on how often a landlord can visit their property, however landlords are required to provide at least 24hrs notice to their tenants before entering the property, except in cases of emergency.
Tip #7: Keep Good Records
Keep track of all rent payments, repairs and maintenance. There are a few good reasons that this is good practice.
Firstly, it will help you keep on top of your finances and make that tax return a little easier as you’ll have everything you need to hand should you need it. You should have all of your out-of-date certifications to prove (should you need to!) an unbroken chain of compliance. You should also have written confirmation of everything, which could come in handy should you ever need to go to court.
No landlord ever wants to go to court, but sometimes the worst can happen, so having written evidence of attempts to access a property to resolve an issue or evidence of rent arrears should make the process a little bit easier, if you’ve been diligent about keeping good records and know exactly where to lay your hands on everything.
Tip #8: Be Responsive and Respectful
Make sure your tenants know how to contact you in case of an emergency. This isn’t just a good experience for your tenants, it’s best for you and your property too, as addressing issues as soon as possible is best for your property too.
You need to strike the right balance between being available to your tenants and being respectful of their home. Your tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment of the property, so be sure to liaise with them ahead of an inspection, giving them at least 24 hours notice. We recommend that if you organise this by phone you follow up with an email, so you have evidence in writing that you obtained permission in plenty of time.
Tip #9: Have a Plan for the End of the Tenancy
All good tenancies come to an end, so make sure you have a plan for how to handle that end of the tenancy. Your tenants will give you the notice stated in your tenancy agreement, which means you can get the ball rolling on finding new tenants to minimise void periods.
Set a date to inspect the property so you can make a decision on the condition of the property, which will impact how much of the deposit you return. To make this easier we highly recommend that you have a professional inventory taken out at the start of tenancy, which your tenant will have a copy of, that you can refer back to.
If you’ve got any questions about lettings, we can definitely help you, so book a call with our experts today.