Landlord obligations when you have new tenants

Nine things to do and 10 documents to provide to a new tenant

If you’re a first-time buy-to-let landlord, or you are letting an existing property to a new tenant, there is a lot of work that needs to be done.  Some of this is obliged by law, and some are simply part of being a good, responsible landlord and building a good landlord/tenant relationship.

In this article, I run through the nine main actions to take before a new tenancy and provide a list of the 10 documents that you should provide your new tenant with.

1.    Make sure your property is clean, safe and habitable

A clean, well-maintained property will attract good tenants. It’s also a legal requirement to maintain a fit and habitable property.

Whether between tenancies or a new buy-to-let property, you should carry out repair work needed to ensure the property is safe to let, decorate it so that it looks attractive and well kept, and have carpets, curtains and other soft furnishings thoroughly cleaned.

Safety measures that you must take include:

  • Ensuring that smoke alarms are fitted (to avoid getting smoked with a £5,000 fine)
  • Fitting carbon monoxide detectors in every room where there is a solid fuel appliance
  • Making sure that gas appliances are tested and provided with a Gas Safety Certificate
  • Undertaking PAT safety testing of electrical equipment

2.    Make sure your property has an EPC

From October 1st 2018, it has become law that you must provide new tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). If you don’t, you could be fined up to £4,000. Check out our article “Are you prepared for the energy efficiency clampdown on buy-to-let landlords?” for the information you need.

3.    Conduct a property inventory

You should carry out a property inventory before you let your property to new tenants. This will ensure that all the items in your property, their condition, and the condition of the property itself are accounted for. This will need to be agreed with the tenant and have the tenant sign the inventory. Photos and videos will help to ensure that the condition of all items is as stated, and will provide an extra level of evidence if there are any disputes in court.

4.    Market your property

Effective advertising is essential to getting your property rented quickly and reducing costly void periods. You’ll need to plan a marketing strategy, and use sensible channels to advertise your property. (A tip here: avoid free advertising sites as professional scammers use these – if you can’t afford to market professionally, you become a target for those who think you’ll cut corners on things like tenant vetting.)

You’ll also need to make sure that your advert is clear, concise and descriptive. If you’re not a writer, it may be worth having this done for you.

5.    Carry out a right to rent check

You must carry out a right to rent check before letting your property, and ensure that your applicant is allowed to rent property in the UK.

You’ll need to check immigration status, referencing the applicant’s identity documents. The documents you need to check include a passport, UK immigration status documents, birth certificates, a letter from the local authority, or evidence of service in the UK armed forces.

It’s essential that you know the right to rent rules to avoid being fined. If you don’t carry out effective right to rent checks and then repeat them as the law dictates, you face being fined up to £3,000 per tenant.

6.    Carry out tenant vetting

If you don’t vet your tenants properly, you risk getting a tenant from hell.

Your tenant should supply basic information that includes:

  • Previous landlord details
  • Current employment details
  • Bank statements

You’ll need to run credit checks, contact employers, and discuss rental records with previous landlords.

7.    Compose a legally watertight tenancy agreement

The tenancy agreement is the basis of your landlord/tenant relationship. It lays out your responsibilities and those of your tenants, and the tenancy starts and end dates.

Don’t make the mistake of writing your tenancy agreement on a pre-written agreement that you can buy at leading UK stationery retailers. The landlord laws are constantly evolving, and pre-written tenancy agreements are rarely up to date with changes.

8.    Protect the tenant’s deposit

You must place the tenant’s deposit in a government-recognised tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving it. You must also provide details of the scheme to the tenant.

9.    Check your landlord insurance policy

A new tenancy is an ideal time to check your landlord insurance. Make sure that it covers what you need it to (including loss of rent), and shop around to ensure you get the best deal.

10 documents you should provide new tenants with

When you have a new tenant, you should provide them with the following documentation:

  1. An essential information letter, welcoming them to their new home and ensuring that they have details such as emergency contact details
  2. Electrical (PAT) tests
  3. Current Gas Safety Certificate
  4. Energy Performance (EPC) Certificate
  5. An equipment guide (e.g. washing machine/dishwasher/cooker etc.)
  6. The government’s ‘How to Rent’ booklet
  7. Utility guide
  8. A copy of the property inventory
  9. A copy of the tenancy agreement
  10. A copy of the tenancy deposit scheme

Oh, and don’t forget to give them the keys!

All this sounds like a lot of hard work – and it is. But you don’t have to spend hours and days doing it all. You don’t have to spend weeks and months with your fingers crossed and hope you did everything right. For effortless property management, contact Ezytrac today on +44 0 1522 503 717

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

By | 2018-11-07T06:02:30+00:00 November 5th, 2018|Landlord lessons, Property Management|0 Comments

About the Author:

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Ezytrac. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids. Brett holds both the Level 3 Property Mark Qualifications for Property Sales and Property Lettings and Management.