So your new tenants are all ready to move in, but are you ready for them? Here’s a handy checklist of 7 important things to check before they move in.
1. Tenancy agreement
Get your tenancy agreements in place. These are designed to protect you and your tenants. In most cases it’s a legal requirement to have a contract. Depending on whether you’re letting a whole property on a single tenancy or renting by the room on individual tenancies, you’ll need different contracts.
If your property has gas heating or hobs, make sure you get your Gas Safety Certificate from a Gas Safe registered engineer (this replaces Corgi). This is also a legal requirement, and has to be updated with an annual check. Your tenants may ask to see it when they sign the contract. As a landlord, you’re also responsible for the electrical appliances you provide, as well as any furniture you’re supplying to be safe and free from risk of injury for your tenants. You should check that all chairs, sofas and mattresses have a permanent label attached stating that the product complies with the 1988 regulations. You don’t need to have your property’s electrical installations inspected unless it’s an HMO – in which case you’ll need to get them tested every 5 years.
Make sure your property is clean and everything you’re providing works. It’s your obligation to ensure tenants have heating and hot water, so it’s a good idea to get a contract with a maintenance and repair company who can be called out on emergencies when the boiler breaks down – so they don’t have to bother you! Well organized landlords provide tenants with printed instructions on how to use the heating, washing machine etc., which they can refer to if they have a problem, and phone numbers so they can get hold of you if something goes wrong. If the house floods you’ll want to know about it sooner rather than later…
If you're worried about potential emergencies at your rental property, then you might also want to consider taking out home emergency insurance. Home emergency is optional cover you can add to your landlord buildings and/or contents policy to protect your property and your tenants against the loss of essential services. This cover will usually protect you 24 hours a day.
Record the state of every part of the property, including walls, floors and doors, and take photos whilst you do a walk around with your new tenants. Get them to sign and agree a copy of the inventory so that there are no arguments later on about that stain on the carpet that magically appeared from nowhere.
Even if you’re renting through an agent, it’s your responsibility as a landlord to ensure that your tenants’ deposits are protected. Make sure you let your tenants know which scheme you’ll be using, and give them the correct information about where it’s held and how to raise a dispute. Landlords have lost court cases for forgetting to do that, incurring large fines worth multiple amounts of the rent.
6. Council tax
If your tenants are all students, there is an exemption if they’re all registered in full time education. It’s worthwhile checking and getting a certificate for each student as they’re not automatically exempt, and submitting as proof to the local authority that council tax is not applicable to your property during the tenancy. Remember if one student leaves and is replaced by a non-student, the house will revert to being liable for council tax.
7. House harmony
As a landlord you may be inclined to think it doesn’t matter who you fill your property with, as long as they pay the rent. But if you’re renting by the room, it’s a good idea to give your existing tenants some say over who joins them when you fill the rooms. This helps to promote harmony in the household as they’ll not only be able to choose people they’d like to share with, but also give them a sense of control.
Good landlords will try to match tenants with similar lifestyles and who can live together compatibly – this is in your interests as much as theirs, as they’re more likely to stay, and also to keep the property in good order. When advertising a spare room in your property it’s a good idea to give the prospective tenant an idea of who they’ll be sharing with – give an indication of ages, professions, lifestyle and hobbies - you could even include photos of your current tenants. Remember, it’s not just about the property when you’re sharing; it’s much more about the people you’re sharing with!
This post was contributed by Spareroom.co.uk