For a landlord, the start of a new tenancy can be a hectic and stressful time. With so many important steps to consider and so much to prepare, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a handy checklist to help you cover all the bases. By following these steps, you are ensuring the smoothest possible start for you as well as your tenant. Although completing these tasks in order isn’t essential, we strongly encourage you to complete them all before your tenant moves in.
1. Right to Rent
It is your responsibility as a landlord to check that all prospective tenants aged 18 and over have the legal right (and the associated documents) to rent your residential property. Illegal renting can result in civil penalties.
2. Tenant deposit protection
Once you’ve received your tenant’s deposit, you must transfer it into a Government-backed tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving the funds. This is a legal requirement and failure to adhere to it can result in a hefty fine, so this is an important one to tick off early.
3. Tenancy agreement
The tenancy agreement is an official contract between you and your tenant, outlining your responsibilities as well as theirs. Be sure that your tenancy agreement covers every important factor such as the duration of the tenancy, information about notice periods and a breakdown of payments.
4. Landlord insurance
For your own protection and peace of mind, we recommend taking the time to make sure that you are familiar and happy with what your Landlord Insurance covers you for. Protecting your investment should be one of your top priorities.
5. Utilities and appliances
Test all of the appliances before your tenant moves in. Anything that’s not in good working order should either be replaced or removed.
Update the utility suppliers with your new tenant’s details to avoid any billing issues. It’s also a good idea to take note of the meter readings before your tenant moves in.
6. Phone numbers and manuals
Give your tenant a list of handy contact numbers – plumber, electrician etc. That way, if you can’t be reached for any reason, your tenant will have pre-approved points of contact for emergencies such as a burst pipe. It’s also advisable to leave appliance manuals in the property for their reference.
7. Clean and repair
Be sure to action any necessary repairs to the property, including appliances and fixtures, before the start of a new tenancy. Make sure that the property is cleaned thoroughly and remove any leftover waste or mess from the previous tenant, if applicable. As obvious as it sounds, it’s your duty to provide your tenants with a clean and safe environment.
Compiling an inventory is strongly recommended as it’s the most practical way to ensure that everything is accounted for and the condition of the premises is recorded in an unbiased, written report. Your tenant should check and confirm the inventory in writing. In order to protect against any potential deposit disputes down the road, many landlords include photographs in their reports.
Landlords are legally required to have a gas safety inspection every year and provide a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate to the tenant at the start of their tenancy and every year thereafter.
The Energy Performance Certificate (commonly known as an EPC) is used to show the energy efficiency of your property. It’s a legal requirement that the EPC be included in all property-to-let advertisements, so make sure that yours is valid and available to your tenant on the day they move in.
10. Safety installations
Landlords are required to install working smoke alarms on every floor, and carbon monoxide detectors in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance. Make sure they are working properly before your tenant moves in. It’s important that they take responsibility for their own safety as well, so advise them to test that the alarms are functional every month.
Working through the above tasks and making sure everything is present and correct not only adds to your peace of mind, it also gets your relationship with your tenant off to a good start. By being a conscientious and organised landlord, you’re ensuring happy tenants and increasing the chances of them renting your property for longer, which will ultimately save you having to go through this process again too soon!
Thanks to Total Landlord Insurance for this guest blog.
We are living in the age of Airbnb, the age of simple and hassle free letting, it’s had its criticisms and its issues since launching in 2008 and experienced slow growth in the beginning but now it’s here and used and loved by many. However, now, we’re seeing it opening up grey areas in private rental, grey areas that can be cleared up with the introduction of a certain new platform, Letproof.com.
It’s fairly common for individuals to buy up housing in certain areas with the sole intention of renting them out on Airbnb, of course, this was not the initial purpose of Airbnb and this is not to the liking of many of the residents in those areas. So, in Greater London, there has been, as of 2017, a 90-day limit introduced to stop households being let out on Airbnb as their sole purpose, all year round. Scotland is now calling for this to be introduced there too.
Airbnb has blurred the lines between entrepreneurial homeowners and landlords, the key thing, for us, that has been highlighted by the rise of the Airbnb-er is that there is a defined need out there for direct letting between landlords or ‘hosts’ and their tenants.
Some landlords have taken to using Airbnb to let out their properties for short term holiday lets. A report by the RLA showed that for 34% of landlords asked, the changes to section 24 mortgage interest relief were the reason for them making this decision, the need and desire to reduce their costs. However savvy this choice may seem, it’s important that landlords are aware of their mortgage restrictions and that they are not in anyway violating their terms. A landlord may have a buy-to-let mortgage but this usually states that the property has AST (assured shorthold tenancy) arrangements, which is usually 6 months plus at any one time, longer than your average holiday let.
Equally, those renting out their homes via Airbnb, when on holiday themselves etc, may too be violating the terms of their mortgage. A residential mortgage may not allow for the property to be used for short-term letting at all.
The Airbnb model means less cost for landlords, no paying letting agents for compliance checks, no tenancy renewal fees to be paid, just a do it yourself, simple to use platform where landlords can find holidayers, or short-term tenants themselves.
This really highlights the need for this kind of platform, this simple to use, landlords and tenants only, Airbnb style platform, but not only for holiday lets, for longer-term tenancies too; for landlords not wishing to violate their AST agreement mortgage. True they may not then be avoiding section 24 tax relief changes, but they will be avoiding the letting agent fees and they will be benefiting from the satisfaction and freedom of arranging the tenancy themselves, as they would through Airbnb. This flexibility can be found, and the place to do it? Leptroof.com!
Letproof.com is offering exactly that, the functionality and the flexibility; a cost-effective platform for landlords and tenants wanting more than just a holiday rental, but a short, or long term rental without any agents or middlemen.
Try it, test it and spread the word.
If you’d like to get your property on to the site over the next month and avoid the sign up free, you can contact them here at info@Letproof.com!
This infographic is provided by Top Insure
Securing insurance for your rental property will no doubt be a high property and finding the right one for you isn't always easy. Your own property and situation as a landlord is unique, so here's a breakdown of various specialist home insurance options, meaning you can find the perfect fit!
One of the big changes coming for the private rental sector in the imminent future is the banning of letting agent fees. Andrew Turner, chief executive at Commercial Trust Limited, examines some of the implications this might have for landlords.
In the Autumn Statement, in November 2016, the Government first suggested the concept of a ban on letting agent fees, in a bid to provide a fairer, more transparent process for tenants, which would make renting more affordable.
Bringing this issue into law has at the time of writing, become a long process, with many considerations, not least of which is the implications for the landlord.
At the Conservative Party Conference in October, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid reinvigorated the discussion, announcing a number of proposed lettings regulations and stating that the proposed lettings fees ban legislation was imminent.
A month later, the Government released its draft bill, which the Department for Communities and Local Government said will help “millions” of renters.
A number of issues were raised, which are set to be debated in Parliament before passing into law.
These will potentially have an impact on buy-to-let landlords.
The key points of the proposals are as follows:
- Holding deposits will be capped at a maximum of one week’s rent;
- Security deposits will be capped at a maximum of six week’s rent;
- A protocol is to be put in place for the return of the holding deposit to a tenant;
- It will become a civil offence for any agent OR landlord to break the ban, with first-time offenders liable to incur a fine of up to £5,000;
- Any agent or landlord breaking the ban twice within a five-year timeframe will be committing a criminal offence and will be liable for a fine of up to £30,000 or criminal prosecution;
- Letting agents will not be permitted to double charge tenants and landlords for providing the same services;
- Trading Standards are set to enforce the proposed ban.
But the proposed changes go further.
In October, the Government also indicated that it intended to make it mandatory for all buy-to-let landlords to register with a redress scheme, something that already applies to all letting and estate agents.
The details remain unclear at the time of writing, but the Government objective is to create a clearer, smoother process for tenants to voice complaints about poorly managed properties, whilst also establishing a housing court where grievances can be heard and judged.
In his speech, Javid indicated that the proposals would also be aimed at improving the process and time it takes for a landlord to regain possession of a property.
The proposed letting agent fees ban could result in agents increasing the cost of their services, which it is widely felt will be passed on to landlords.
Landlords may face a quandary: Do they take a more hands-on approach to managing their properties – taking into account the extra time and potential costs this would incur, do they put up rents, or, do they swallow the bitter pill of more expenses?
Each landlord will have their own opinion, based on their individual circumstances. For those deciding to dispense with the services of letting agents, there are many things to consider:
- Sourcing tenants can be time-consuming and involves a lot of administrative work. This includes credit checking, referencing and ensuring that a prospective tenant has the legal right to rent in the UK and provides the correct documentation to evidence this. Failure to comply with the latter point can land a landlord in serious trouble.
- Checking rental payments, renewing tenancies, visiting the property and dealing with any maintenance problems or issues that may arise directly with the tenant, can all take up an enormous amount of time.
- Staying up to date with changes in the law and how these affect landlord responsibilities may take up a lot of time but will be critical to keeping the right side of the law.
Commercial Trust Limited will be monitoring what happens with great interest over the coming weeks and months as the private rental market adjusts.
Just as you’d protect your own home with comprehensive home insurance, landlords need cover for their rental properties. But what do landlords need to look for when getting insurance?
Although a rental property may be just another investment to a landlord, it is a home for the tenants living there, so it requires all of the covers that you’d put in place for your own home – in addition to industry-specific covers.
Award-winning Landlord Insurance provider Just Landlords has put together some top tips to help landlords get the cover their properties need:
Don’t forget your contents
Even if you don’t provide a fully furnished rental property to your tenants, there will still likely be some contents that you do offer, such as a washing machine (imagine if you tipped your property upside down – anything that fell would be classed as contents). It’s essential that these items are covered by your insurance so that you don’t miss out if any damage is caused to them.
If you do offer a fully furnished property, you may be surprised by how much everything is worth, which would cause a large dent in your pocket if anything was damaged or stolen. Always choose a policy that includes landlord contents.
Listen to other landlords
Other landlords or property investors will likely know a thing or two about protecting their properties, so speak to them to find out who they take out insurance with and what they think of the company.
If you don’t know any other landlords personally, you can always look online for reviews and recommendations from property investors. Trustpilot is a great place to start, as its star system allows you to compare one insurance provider to another.
Look for industry-specific covers
Unlike standard home insurance, landlord insurance should include covers for industry-specific perils that don’t affect normal homeowners. For instance, landlords will require cover against malicious damage, as well as cover against malicious damage by your tenants – this is an additional cover that landlords need if they wish to claim for any loss or damage caused by the tenant. The same goes for theft.
You don’t want to get caught out if your tenant does cause damage to the property on purpose, or steals something from your property, so always look for these essential covers when choosing a policy.
Check the Defaqto rating
Defaqto is an independent financial information business that helps consumers make informed decisions when it comes to companies offering financial services, such as insurance. With its star rating system (which ranges from 1 = the worst rating, to 5 = the best rating), you can easily compare policies from different providers.
Of course, it’s always best to go with a company that has a 5 Star Defaqto rating, such as Just Landlords, as they will be able to offer you the comprehensive cover that your rental properties need.
Watch out for sneaky add-ons
The last thing you want to do when looking for insurance is come to get a quote at a certain price and find that, if you do want extras that you think you’ll need, you have to pay more for them.
When looking at a landlord insurance policy, always make sure that it has all of the covers required for your property as standard, without finding that you need to pay for sneaky add-ons at the end – a good product will already have these included with the original price.
Looking out for each of these factors when choosing landlord insurance will ensure that you get the cover you need for your properties.
At letproof.com we really do feel that the process of renting has reached a point of being outdated compared to the wants and needs of the customer. This led us to provide our own alternative to traditional letting agents.
The need for an improved way of bringing landlords and tenants together directly is already being recognised and some landlords have already made the decision to go it alone.
We’re taking a look at some of the common issues with the current, traditional routes to letting. Whether from landlords or tenants, there are areas of complaint from both sides of the renting relationship, most of which come down to the cost of the renting process!
Common issues making landlords go it alone...
Issue One: Cost
Letting agents can be expensive, and while fee’s vary, landlords can end up paying high fees for the privilege of having someone oversee their rental property. A recent survey showed that ‘64% of [landlords] polled, would consider using private websites to find a tenant in order to avoid paying […] letting agent fees.’(Landlords Today)
‘23% of respondents claim to have lost hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds through void periods because instructed letting agents had failed to secure them new tenants’ (Landlords Today). So the issue of cost not only means being charged high fees but, for some, actually losing out on rent due to no tenant being found to fill the property.
Issue two: Lack of control
The use of an agent or middleman brings another layer to the rental relationship, the landlord may not feel fully in control as they aren’t dealing with the property or tenant directly.
PIMS reported that in September of 2016, 65% of landlords polled carried out much of their own property maintenance and preferred not to use a third party such as a letting agent but to deal directly with their tenants. “We are seeing an increasing trend of savvy landlords taking direct control of how their property is let and managed and becoming much more self-sufficient.’
Issue three: Transparency
This is closely tied with a lack of control - ‘Lack of communication ranks high among the complaints landlords have about their letting agents.’ Telegraph.
If all fine details are not relayed carefully, regularly and correctly by letting agents to landlords, how can they know exactly what is happening with their property?
With around 1000 complaints per year to the Property Ombudsman, of which a high number are around a lack of communication, it’s clear that transparency is a desired trait in the letting process. Having direct relationships with tenants is what Letproof.com promote as a way to create a truly transparent process in letting.
There are of course some argued advantages of using letting agents - primarily saving time and gaining their knowledge and experience. This, however, depends on your agent of course and if you’re an experienced landlord or even an experienced tenant, your knowledge may already be pretty good.
What do letting agents offer landlords? …
Marketing the property
Leases and inventories
Deposit and rent collection
Property maintenance and repairs
Already, many landlords only use a selection of these services, and according to Property Industry Eye:
‘24% just use an agent to provide tenants and then look after the property themselves,’
‘41% find tenants and maintain the property themselves’
‘35% leave everything to an appointed agent.’
That’s 41% of landlords not using an agent at all! So, landlords, if you're willing to call upon your own skills, get organised and informed you could be saving money by going it alone - a trend that we’re apparently already beginning to see.
Plus with the correct resources at your fingertips, a first time ‘go it alone’ landlord’s hurdles are lowered significantly! We provide materials and resources to make deposits, inventories and referencing much simpler for our landlords to go it alone.
Let’s face it, private landlords, overall, haven’t had the easiest couple of years financially, so some additional saving here and there couldn’t go a miss, right?
One of the great things about this time of startups and proptech innovation and the era of ‘there’s an app for that’ is that managing your property and any potentially time-consuming duties that come with it can be easily managed with apps such as Fixflo or Property Buddy, to name a couple.
If the desire is there to become an efficient cost effective independent private landlord is there, we’re here to help you do it and find you a tenant!
Letproof.com are looking for partners and investors if you like what we're about and think you might like to become part of our journey, visit our Crowdfunding page.