1. The Property Checklist

A step by step guide to help you deal with all legal and other issues so your property can be rented to tenants.

The checklist is mostly about preparing the property itself, but we include a few other items which need to be sorted out before the property is advertised for let.

This checklist will be amended from time to time to reflect changes in the law or suggestions from members.  So it may be worth revisiting – for example when checking the property over between tenants.

Back to the Checklist Index

Mark sections complete by clicking the circles

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Introduction

Using this Checklist

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Completing a checklisrtThis is the first of several checklists on Landlord Law – this checklist is to help you get your property ready and prepare generally for renting to tenants. It covers all the things you need to do BEFORE you advertise it to let.

The checklist boxes give a summary of the topic, provide some of our videos for you to watch, and link out to more detailed content on the site so you can read more.

We recommend that you check the circles as you go through the list and complete any necessary work until they are all ticked.  After which you can move on to the next checklist in the series.

When you have a new property – you can untick all the circles and start again!

Our webinar on Preparing to Let

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Before you start we would strongly recommend that you watch the recording of our training video (Business Level members only) with Dave Princep, recorded on  8 May 2019.

You will find Dave’s powerpoint and links to the sites mentioned by him in the video, on the webinar recording page here.

Property basics

Is the property in England or Wales?

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Whether a property is in England or in Wales is becoming increasingly significant.

WalesLaw in Wales

After a referendum 1997, the Government of Wales established the National Assembly for Wales and devolved powers were transferred to the Assembly in 1999.  The devolved powers include Housing.

Pursuant to those powers, two major acts have been passed,

  • The Housing Wales Act 2014. Under this act, all landlords and agents must be registered with Rent Smart Wales. Letting agents and landlords wanting to manage their own properties will also need to be accredited – which involves undertaking training and paying a higher fee.
  • The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 – this will profoundly change landlord and tenant law in Wales and bring in mandatory prescribed tenancy agreements (among other things). However, this legislation has not yet come into force.

However, legislation passed prior to 1999 will normally apply to both England and Wales.

Since 1997 most housing-related laws and regulations that have been passed are either just in respect of England or England and Wales have published different (albeit often identical) sets of regulations.  So much new legislation – for example, the rules relating to section 21 – do not apply in Wales.  Similar legislation will be coming in due course though.

Find out more and links to our Welsh content here.

Rent Smart WalesThe most important thing to do if your property is in Wales, is register with Rent Smart Wales.

If you are not registered then you can be prosecuted.  If you want to self manage (or work as a letting agent) you will also need to be accredited – which means doing some training and paying a higher fee.  The Rent Smart Wales website has all the details.

If you are looking for a letting agent in Wales, note that you should check that they are registered and accredited with Rent Smart Wales.

EnglandEngland

Many of the new laws which have come into force recently – such as the changes to section 21 in the Deregulation Act 2015 only apply in England.

However, the majority of the content on Landlord Law applies equally to both England and Wales.

On this site – laws which only apply in England have the English flag next to them and laws which only apply in Wales have the Welsh dragon flat next to them.

For all post-1997 legislation, you need to check whether it was passed by the Parliament at Westminster or the Welsh Assembly and if in Westminster – whether it only applies in England or whether it applies also in Wales.  In most cases, it will only apply in England.

Is it a freehold, leasehold or a boat?

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First – you may want to watch this short video clip (from one of our workshops) where Tessa explains the difference between freehold and leasehold:

 

You need to be aware of the following points:

If the property is freehold

There are unlikely to be any restrictions on your right to rent the property to tenants.

If the property is Leasehold

There are basically two types of leasehold property:

  • Long leases – over 7 years (when they need to be registered at the Land Registry) although they are generally much longer, eg 100 years.  Often, there are restrictions on subletting – see the separate section on this below.
  • Short leases, generally called tenancies, which are generally under 7 years although in most cases fixed terms are much shorter, usually 6 months or a year.  Subletting is a tricky area of law – see the section on ‘rent to rent’ below.

If the property is on a boat

It is perfectly possible to rent out accommodation on a boat.  But if you do it is important to realise that this cannot be a tenancy.  It can only be a residential license.

This was held in two important legal cases:

Both of these cases confirmed that a tenancy has to be in respect of ‘land’.  As a boat floats on water it cannot, therefore, be the subject of a tenancy.

Perhaps the most significant differences to mention here are:

  • You should use a license agreement, not an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (although even if you use an AST form this cannot turn the occupation into a tenancy).
  • Deposits do not need to be protected in a scheme
  • The section 21 and section 8 eviction procedures do not apply

You can find out more about residential licenses here.

Will you (the landlord) be living in the property?

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Landlords often rent out either a self-contained part of the property that they live in, or a room in their own part of the building.  For example, if they have a spare bedroom.

If you are a resident landlord this will have a significant effect on the occupation type of your occupiers.  There are basically two situations:

Lodgers

Lodger is not strictly speaking a legal term, but it is generally taken to refer to someone who lives in their landlords home and who shares living accommodation.

In the vast majority of cases, a lodger will be a licensee, not a tenant.  However, even if a landlord does grant a tenancy of, say, the spare bedroom – this will not enhance the tenants’ rights much.

This is because occupiers who share living accommodation with their landlord are excluded from protection under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 – which means that the landlord can evict them without a court order.

To find out more about the law relating to lodgers and their landlords please see the separate website Lodger Landlord.

We do however have the following documentation on Landlord Law:

Self-contained accommodation

This is typically where a landlord will rent out part of the building they live in – for example, a ‘granny annexe’ or ‘garden flat’.  Or maybe the owner of a large building will convert it to flats to rent to tenants and live in one themselves.

In this sitution, the occupiers will almost certainly acquire a tenancy.  However, it will not be an assured or assured shorthold tenancy.  This is because the Housing Act 1988 (which is the act which set up and regulates most tenancies today) specifically excludes tenants with owner-occupiers.

So the tenancy will be an unregulated ‘common law’ tenancy.

The main differences between ASTs and common law tenancies is that:

  • Deposits taken do not need to be registered with a scheme (as this only applies to ASTs)
  • The section 21 and section 8 procedures do not apply – instead, landlords should us a Notice to Quit to terminate a tenancy once the fixed term has ended.  During the fixed term the tenants can be evicted using forfeiture for non payment of rent.

You will find more information about common law tenancies here.

Finally, note that if the landlord owns two (or more) flats in a purpose built block of flats, lives in one and rents the other to tenants – that WILL be an AST.

Are you considering ‘rent to rent’?

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‘Rent to rent’ is where a property owner rents out a property to a tenant specifically so that tenant can sublet the property.

When it works well, the property owner gets a regular income from the property but is not bothered by any of the work involved.  This is all done by their tenant, who gets his income from the difference between the rent he pays the property owner and the income he gets from the subtenants.

However, this arrangement can go spectacularly wrong and property owners need to be very careful indeed before entering into a rent to rent arrangement.

For more information on this please see the video below which is of a talk by solicitor David Smith at our 2018 Conference.

 

Note that as the agreement between the property owner and his tenant is not a residential one (as the tenant does not live there – he sublets it out) this is not a ‘residential tenancy’ and cannot be an assured shorthold tenancy.  Landlord Law only covers residential tenancies so at present we do not have any agreements suitable for rent to rent situations.

Anyone considering doing this is advised to get some telephone advice via our telephone advice service with Anthony Gold solicitors first.

Protect your property at the Land Registry

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This is perhaps one of the most important things that you do.

If someone wants to fraudulently mortgage your property – where will the notification of this from the Land Registry be sent?  The property.  So if the fraudster is your tenant – the notification will go to him and you will know nothing about it.

In a case in 2008, Barclays Bank v. Guy, Mr Guy’s property was wrongly transferred into the fraudsters name at the Land Registry and a mortgage was taken out.  The Court of Appeal held that Mr Guy could get the property transferred back into his name at the Land Registry but it would still be bound by the mortgage as Barclays Bank had granted it in good faith relying on the Land Registry entries.

The way to avoid this is to ensure that your contact details at the Land Registry are up to date and to sign up for Property Alerts.  Which is free.

You can also register a restriction – means that the Land Registry will not register a ‘dealing’ with your property, for example, a transfer or a mortgage, unless a solicitor or other professional conveyancer certifies that they have checked the identity of the person who has signed the deed.

You can find out how to protect your property at the Land Registry here.

MAKE SURE YOU DO IT!

See below a clip from David Smith’s talk on rent to rent where he discusses the importance this:

 

Permission to rent

Leasehold

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You should ALWAYS check your lease before renting to tenants.  Leases often prohibit subletting (sometimes called ‘alienation’) – either altogether or will make subletting conditional upon permission being granted. In which case you may need to pay a fee.

If your property is owned on a long lease, you may want to watch a talk by housing barrister Robert Brown from the 2017 Landlord Law Conference.

If you want to see Roberts notes and the powerpoint, these can be found on the 2017 Conference page.

Mortgage company

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If you own your property subject to a mortgage, be aware that these will often restrict what you are allowed to do at the property.

For example, if you have an ordinary mortgage you may not be allowed to rent out the property at all.  You will need to contact your mortgage provider and see if they will agree to amend the mortgage to give you permission.  If they give permission in an email or letter – make sure you keep it carefully in case they deny this later.  If they do not agree, you will need to remortgage and get a special ‘buy to let’ mortgage.

Even if you have a buy-to-let mortgage, you need to check whether there are any conditions.  For example, your mortgage may prohibit:

  • Letting to tenants on benefit
  • Letting to asylum seekers
  • Renting the property as an HMO
  • Allowing subletting (including allowing tenants to take in a lodger)

Make sure, before you proceed with plans to rent out your property, that you will not find yourself in trouble with your mortgage company.

If you want advice, you can book a telephone advice call via our service.  You will need to have a copy of your mortgage deed available for the adviser to see.

Planning

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If you are renting out a residential property (ie a house or a flat) you will not normally have any planning issues.

Planning issues normally arise when you are looking to change the use of a property from one type to another.  So if you are seeking to convert an industrial property to a residential block of flats for example.

There are also sometimes planning issues if you are looking to convert a normal residential home to an HMO.

Planning is a complex area of law and we do not have expertise here at Landlord Law on planning issues.  If you are concerned about a planning issue you should seek advice either from your Local Authority or a planning expert.

However, we do have a clip from one of David Smith’s workshops where he discussed planning in connection with HMOs.  Note that this is quite an old clip as it was recorded in December 2016.  Most of what David says is still very relevant though and it will give you some background information so you can decide whether you need to take any further advice. We also have extracts from David’s notes and power point in pdf format.

 


Things you should do

Consider using a Letting Agent

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Agents boardsProbably most landlords use a letting agent to manage their property.  Particularly ‘small landlords’ – those with just one or two properties.

However, with the Tenant Fees Act prohibiting letting agents charges to tenants, many will be forced to up their fees to landlords. Which will prompt the landlord customers to consider whether they might not be able to the job themselves – and save themselves a lot of money.

One of the reasons Landlord Law exists is to support landlords who want to self manage their properties – either to save money, because they have had a bad experience or just because they want to.

However, although many landlords are perfectly capable of doing a good job, with a bit of (Landlord Law!) help – for some landlords it will not be a good idea. In order to help you decide whether you should self manage or not, we have one of our ‘trails’ which starts here.  It is not a long trail but it does have a lot of useful information which can help you make up your mind.

If you decide to use an agent

You need to be very careful in your choice.  The agency will have control over a very valuable asset – your property!  You need to be sure that they know what they are doing

So read carefully this article which has guidance on what you should do and the things you should check. You may also find this Landlords Checklist – which has a list of questions you should ask, very helpful.  In addition, we have quite a lot of FAQ on letting agents which are all listed here.

Remember – some agents are fantastic and worth their weight in gold.  Others can be an absolute nightmare.  You need to avoid nightmare agents and try to find a good one!

Get an HMO license (for licensable HMOs and in areas of selective licensing)

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Girls sharingGovernment and the authorities are clamping down more and more on HMO properties so if your property is an HMO you need to be sure that you are compliant.  So – what is an HMO?

An HMO is where there are three or more tenants forming two or more households.

Find out more about this in the FAQ here and see also the short video from David Smith below where he outlines the rules (this is taken from a talk at our 2013 Conference but the rules on what an HMO is have not changed since then).

 

If your property is an HMO then there are two consequences:

  • You need to comply with the HMO Management Regulations (there are separate regulations for England and Wales but they are  very similar), and
  • You may need to get an HMO license.

So far as licensing is concerned:

  • You MUST get a license if your property has (or will have) five or more occupiers forming two or more households
  • You MAY need to get a license even if there are less than five occupiers if your Local Authority has a selective or additional licensing scheme in your area.

And

  • Additional licensing is where a local authority wishes to licence landlords operating some type of HMO which is smaller than that required for mandatory licensing.
  • Selective licensing is where all landlords in a specific area, even non-HMO landlords, are required to obtain a license.

So even if your property is not an HMO you may still need to get a license.  The first thing to do therefore is to check what the requirements are for your Local Authority.  You can do this via our Local Authority Directory.

The penalties for renting a licensable HMO without a license are fierce see here.

Note that Local Authorities will often require works to be carried out to a property as a condition of granting an HMO license so you should allow sufficient time for this. Below is another short clip from David Smiths Conference talk with some tips about license applications:

 

You can find more talks from David Smith at the Landlord Law Conference in our Conference recordings. If your property is an HMO you should watch them all.

If your property is an HMO (or even if it isn’t) you may want to attend one of our HMO workshops taken by David Smith.  You can find out when (or if) the next one is due to take place from our Training Page.

A few HMO examples

  • Husband and wife with two children – one household so not an HMO
  • Husband and wife with two children and the wife’s sister – one household so not an HMO
  • Husband and wife with two children and the husband’s best friend – licensable HMO as five occupiers in two households
  • Single parent with four children and live in nanny – not an HMO as one household
  • Two single parents with one child each, one of them pregnant – HMO (as two households) but not licensable until the baby is born which will bring the property into licensing
  • Four friends sharing a property – HMO but not licensable as under 5 occupiers
  • Four friends sharing with unauthorised lodger who they have not told you about – licensable HMO as five occupiers in two households

Ensure the property is in repair and ‘fit for human habitation’

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There are now extensive regulations covering the condition of rented property.  Landlords must now

  • Ensure that there is nothing in ‘disrepair’ – as per the repairing obligations set out in section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and discussed in this FAQ.
  • Ensure that properties are ‘fit for human habitation’ as per the new rules added to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 by the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.  These are described in the video linked below (which is a training webinar delivered by solicitor Giles Peaker who was part of the legal team which developed the act) and in the article here.

Giles Peaker

The new fitness for human habitation rules are based in part on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)  which is discussed in two articles:

  • An introductory article here and
  • A much longer and more detailed article here.

Landlords should not be too worried about this.  If the property is in good condition and proper repair then you should have nothing to fear.  The new legislation about unfitness for human habitation, in particular, is aimed more at the ‘rogue landlords’.

However, it is important that you take care that the property IS in a proper condition as the standards set in the HHSRS can now be enforced by tenants bringing a claim for rectification and compensation, rather than (as before) only being enforceable by Local Authorities.

It is important that landlords understand their obligations – so do read the articles and watch the videos.

Carry out a fire risk assessment

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FireAll properties should be fire safe and in all cases, you should take some time to consider how your tenants would be able to deal with and escape from a fire at your property.

If the property is a large HMO or block of flats (for example) it may be best to get a professional fire assessment carried out (and follow their advice).

If your property is an HMO the Local Authority may have rules that you need to comply with in addition to the smoke alarm requirements discussed above. You should also watch the training video below which was with housing barrister Sam Madge Wyld talking on fire safety issues.

We also have a recording of a talk from fire safety expert solicitor Warren Spencer from our 2015 Landlord Law Conference.

Arrange for insurance cover

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InsuranceYou don’t HAVE to have insurance cover for your property but you would be mad not to.  Your property is a very valuable investment – you need to have it protected.

However, you don’t want just any old insurance.  You need to have insurance which is designed for landlords renting property to tenants.

In particular, if you are renting out your own home (say while working abroad) and just carry on with your old insurance – they will almost certainly refuse to pay up on any claims if you did not tell them that you were renting it out and get their permission first.

Even if you do have insurance designed for landlords, you need to be careful about things such as exclusions and charges.  For example:

  • It may exclude cover for tenants on benefit and sometimes also asylum seekers and students
  • You need to know what fees will be charged and when – they can be quite expensive
  • You need to know whether malicious damage by tenants (for example) is included
  • You need to make sure you are not underinsured or any payouts may be less than your losses

We have the following resources for you on insurance matters:

This is an important topic and you can lose a lot of money if you do not have the right insurance in place, so take great care in choosing your insurance product.  This is not something to be rushed.

Get an Energy Performance Certificate

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Energy efficiencyAs the planet warms up, bringing climate change and extreme weather conditions – landlords have their part to play in the fight to halt the pending devastation.

  • First – all landlords must obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) as a copy must be provided to prospective tenants along with the property details.
  • Second – your certificate should give your property an EPC rating of not less than E.  There are exceptions but it is best to comply if you can.

We have a long article which looks at this here which please read and you should also watch the training videos with Dave Princep on the more practical issues and Robert Brown on the legal issues..

Note that if you obtained your EPC some time ago and it shows your property as having an EPC of For G, it is worth getting it done again as the basis upon which the grades are assessed has been changed recently.

We have some FAQ on energy efficiency which are linked below:

Get a gas safety certificate

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Gas applianceGas safety is extremely important.  If your property has gas then you MUST comply with the gas safety regulations.  This means:

  • Arranging for your property to be inspected by an installer registered with the Gas Safe Register (who will provide you with a certificate) before the property is let and annually thereafter, and
  • Giving copies of the certificates to the tenants – including before they move in.

Note that if you do not serve the certificate on tenants before they move in you will not be able to use section 21 to evict your tenants. If your inspection throws up any problems then any repair or other work MUST be done before the property is let to tenants. There is a lot of helpful information online at

You will find our FAQ on gas safety listed below.

Alternatively, as gas appliances are responsible for increasing carbon emissions, you may want to consider having electrical appliances rather than gas. It is highly likely that at some stage during the next 10 years, gas appliances will be outlawed, so why not save yourself the trouble and either get rid of them now or not instal them in the first place?

Find out more in our Eco Landlords post here.

Ensure the electrics are safe

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Electric toolsAt the time of writing, landlords are not obliged to obtain an electrical safety certificate in the same way that they do for gas.  Unless the property is an HMO (where a certificate needs to be obtained every 5 years) or if the landlord is required to do this as a condition of an accreditation or other scheme.

However, this is set to change and there are plans to introduce mandatory electrical safety checks in the future. This does not mean though that landlords do not at present have any obligations as regards electrical safety:

  • Landlords statutory repairing obligations require appliances and the electrical wiring to be kept in proper repair
  • Landlords obligation to keep their properties fit for human habitation include ensuring that there are no electrical hazards

Landlords obligations as regards electrical safety are summarised in this FAQ. Please also read the Real Life Story here. In view of the potential problems highlighted by this story, we would recommend professional electrical checks before a property is first let (unless you are sure it is safe) and ideally between lets, particularly if the last tenant was a DIY enthusiast!

Get PAT checks done for electrical appliances

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PAT testingPAT stands for Portable Appliance Testing.

A portable appliance is basically anything with a plug on it, for example, personal computers, and their equipment (monitor, speakers etc), kettles, irons, leads, cables, toasters, printers, etc.

PAT testing is not mandatory but it is a good idea.  For example:

  • if there is any damage to the cable covering
  • if the plug is damaged
  • if any of the joints are taped or look damaged
  • if the coloured insulation of the internal cable cores show where they enter plug
  • if the appliance seems to have been used in conditions for which it is not suitable (e.g. if it is wet)
  • If there is any damage to the external casing of the equipment or are there loose screws or parts
  • if there is any evidence of overheating (e.g.. burn marks or discolouration)
  • if the off/on switch is damaged

Items purchased new should be safe, but any second-hand items should be tested and you may want to test all appliances between tenancies.

If you rent a property with a defective appliance, you could be liable, for example, if it causes an accident and someone is injured.  If you can prove that the item was PAT tested before the tenants went in then this would go to show that any damage was down to the tenants rather than you.

In order to make it cost effective, you should get all your appliances done at the same time. It is not hugely expensive. You can find companies which do this online, there is a helpful directory here. Some companies specifically advertise a service for landlords.

Finally, make sure that you keep a record of the appliances tested and the date this was done, so if there is any problem later you can prove that you have had it done.

You can find out more from the HSE website FAQs here.

Install smoke and CO alarms

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Smoke alarmWith effect from 1 October, 2015 all properties (in England) must

  • Instal a working smoke alarm on every storey of the property which is being used for ‘living accommodation’, and
  • Instal a carbon monoxide alarm in every room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used (eg coal fires and wood burners)

These alarms must be tested by the landlord or someone on his behalf on the first day of the tenancy – and a record kept of this. The rules are summarised in this FAQ. These rules only apply in England at present but no doubt Wales will be introducing similar rules in due course.  So if your property is in Wales you are advised to instal alarms too.

Check for legionella

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legionnaires diseaseLegionella (which causes Legionnaires disease) is, along with Radon gas and Asbestos, known as a ‘silent killer’.  Its found in most water systems but can be dangerous if water is stored at between 20 and 45 degrees which encourages the bacteria to breed.

Landlords are now obliged to carry out risk assessments for legionella and keep records to show that this has been done.

We have a certain amount of information on the FAQ here but the best thing to do is to watch Dave Princep’s training webinar, which also covers radon gas and asbestos.

Ensure furniture is compliant

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furnitureYou need to be careful with furniture and maybe it’s best not to get too much second hand.  Under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, as amended all furniture in rented properties must comply with safety standards.

Basically, these are that soft furnishings must be fire safe and have the proper labels.  You can find out more in the FAQ here.

Some companies specialise in providing inexpensive furniture packs for landlords and these are often a good option as they will be compliant with the legislation.

And finally

Make sure the property is clean

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Clean upIf you want your tenants to leave the property in a clean state – it needs to be clean when they move in!

We have a series of videos, kindly provided by Joanna White of Property Principles, which explain in detail exactly how a property should be cleaned along with a pdf guide.    You can view them all here.

Don’t forget also that your inventory should record the fact that the property is clean as well as listing the things in the property and their condition.  You will need this if you want to claim back the cost of cleaning from the tenant’s deposit at the end of the tenancy and they are objecting.

Get a detailed inventory / schedule of condition prepared

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Completing InventoryA proper inventory – particularly if you take a deposit – is absolutely critical.

How can you claim that a tenant is responsible for the cost of repair to a damaged item if you cannot prove that it was undamaged when they moved in?

Our view also is that it is best to get the inventory done by someone independent – ideally (if you are not using a letting agent) an inventory company.  Inventories prepared by landlords will be accepted by deposit scheme adjudicators, particularly if they are signed as agreed by the tenants as correct, but they tend not to be given the same weight as a truly independent inventory.

If you still want to do the inventory yourself we have a detailed article here.  It is worth reading even if you have decided to use an inventory clerk as it has some tips.

Once you have your inventory, make sure you keep it safe!

Register with a tenancy deposit scheme

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tenancy deposit questionUntil you have started to advertise your property and have actually taken a deposit you do not need to worry about this too much.

However, you would be wise to do a bit of advance reading so you are aware of your legal obligations.

You should also check out the three tenancy deposit schemes and maybe register with the one you propose using so you can familiarise yourself with their forms and procedures.  The three tenancy deposit companies are:

You will find basic information about the tenancy deposit regulations in our FAQ here.  However, your scheme website will also have a wealth of information so you should read this carefully too.  The gov.uk information on deposit protection is also worth a read.

Register with the ICO

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Data ProtectionAll landlords must comply with the Data Protection legislation and since the coming into force of the GDPR in May 2018 this has become more important.  If only because the Information Commissions Office (ICO) which policies these regulations, has acquired significantly greater powers to impose large fines.

There are two things you need to do at this stage:

  • Register with the ICO, and
  • Make sure that your systems for dealing with data are compliant

As a landlord, you will be a data controller as you will hold data about your tenants and also about people who apply for tenancies.  You need to make sure you deal with this appropriately.

We have a long article which looks at this in some detail here. You will also find a huge amount of information in the ICO website.

Note that in almost all cases you will need to register with the ICO.  This is not particularly arduous.  You need to complete the ICO application process and pay the fee (which is most cases will be £40 pa).

Note that there are NO exceptions for landlords who only rent one property.  If you use a computer to store your tenants’ information then you will need to register.  If you think you may fall outside the requirements you should speak to the ICO about it to check.  They are very helpful and have a telephone helpline you can ring.

You will also need in due course to serve data protection notices on your tenants.  If you want to prepare these now you will find the Landlord Law notices here.

Finally, you may want to watch our training webinar with David Smith below.

 

Ensure you have kept proper records of everything

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PaperworkRenting property is heavily regulated and complying with the rules usually means making sure you have the correct paperwork.

So you need to keep copies of EVERYTHING:

  • Emails and texts
  • Letters
  • Telephone attendance notes (don’t assume you will remember – you won’t), and
  • Records of events (you can use our Diary Sheets for this)
  • Notices and other legal documents served on your tenants
  • Proof that these documents have been served on your tenants
  • Receipts for items purchased and repair and other work done at the property
  • All inspection certificates such as for gas safety and electrical checks
  • Records of portable appliance testing (PAT)
  • Insurance documentation
  • Tax documentation
  • Copies of HMO license applications and paperwork (if your property is an HMO)
  • Tenant information (which we will be looking at in the new tenant checklist)
  • And so on

Proof that you have given (or served) documents on your tenants is particularly important.  For example, unless you can prove that you served a gas safety certificate on your tenants before they moved in – you will not be able to use the section 21 procedure should you wish to evict them.

Now, before you start interviewing tenants and renting out your property, is a good time to think about how you are going to deal with record keeping, and set up a system so you will be able to find things easily.  This can be:

  • Computer folders with subfolders for each of your properties (if more than one) and sub, sub folders for different issues and maybe scanned copies of documents (but keep the originals)
  • A filing cabinet with separate divisions for each property and separate folders for each tenancy, or even
  • A series of cardboard boxes, one for each property (if you have more than one) which you keep under the bed!

But make sure you have SOME system.  And keep everything.

Did we miss anything?

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If there is something you think we have missed – please let us know!