‘We Don’t Need No Education’ Won’t Do: Top Tips for First-Time Landlords
If you're planning to rent out your property for the first time, you need to consider a lot of things. You should understand your responsibilities as a landlord, know how to protect your property, and keep your tenants satisfied. You have to be prepared to deal with any issues that may arise.
To educate first-time landlords, The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has prepared a list of useful tips that will help you to get started smoothly.
Do your research
To start with, research similar properties in the local area and find out how much they are being let for per month. If your rent is set too high, prospective tenants will steer clear. Your agent will be able to advise on this. Once you’ve done your homework, set a competitive price and aim to keep it filled at all times to minimise rental voids.
Check in with your mortgage provider
By renting out your home, you go from being a home-owner and occupier to a landlord, and with your new status, comes great responsibility. In the first instance, you need to check if your mortgage allows you to let out your property as some agreements include caveats to prevent homes from being rented. If you are unsure, speak to your mortgage lender and they will be able to advise you accordingly.
Know your responsibilities
Being a landlord is a 24/7 job, so you should be prepared to receive calls from your tenant at any time during the day or night. Some issues will need immediate attention and unless you have a managing agent, you are responsible for all repairs and maintenance.
Get the property rental ready
Make sure your property is clean and any modernisation or DIY projects are finished. It will be more attractive to prospective tenants if it’s had a fresh lick of paint, all repairs are done and if necessary, new flooring has been installed. You should also think about the type of tenants your property will be best suited to; for example, young families, students or single professionals. This will determine whether you should let it furnished or unfurnished. If possible, offer both options, so the agent can market your property to a wider audience.
Sort out the insurance
Your existing buildings and contents insurer must be made aware of your intention to let your property, as your policy will probably need to be amended. While specific landlord insurance isn’t a legal requirement, it’s advisable as the policy will protect the building, your tenants and your investment as a whole - some policies will also pay out if your tenant misses their rent payments.
There are currently around 150 laws that landlords need to adhere to while letting a property. At the start of a tenancy agreement, you must carry out Right-to-Rent checks in line with immigration laws, protect deposits and have all the essential paperwork in place.
While it isn’t a legal requirement, it’s a very good idea to have a written tenancy agreement so both you and your tenant understand your rights and responsibilities.
The safety of your tenants is very important, so you must also arrange a Gas Safety check every year. It’s also a good idea to make sure all electrical appliances and wiring are tested regularly too. Finally, it goes without saying that your rental property should be fitted with smoke alarms on every floor and carbon monoxide detectors where necessary.
By law, your property needs to have an EPC (energy performance certificate), and it needs to be Band E or above. You won't be able to market the property unless you reach this standard and have a certificate to prove it, so get it sorted as soon as possible - they're valid for 10 years.
It’s important to undertake regular inspections of the property, although remember you can’t enter the property without your tenants’ permission. This is illegal. Give them at least 24 hours’ written notice, and this should be stipulated in your tenancy agreement.
Choose the right agent
If you want to make the process pain-free, use an agent to manage your property and guide you on everything you need to know. A good agent will take away the stress of finding suitable tenants and will ensure your property complies with any regulatory changes.