Renting can be a great lucrative way to earn income, but it is not an easy process, with a multitude of rules, laws and regulations to consider. So here is your rental guide for landlords which will give you all the information you need to know about renting out your property.
- Conduct market research on rentals in the area and arrange a valuation of the property to decide how much rent should be, especially if you're not looking to sell house fast.
- Arrange for a surveyor to report on the overall condition of your property. From this, make any necessary changes to make your property safer or more comfortable for occupants.
- Make any minor repairs necessary.
- Arrange an energy performance check as you’ll need an energy performance certificate. These are valid for 10 years.
- Tidy up, clean and photograph your property. Ensure the interior and exterior looks the best it can to receive optimal interest.
- Advertise your property through online rental websites or through newspaper adverts, community notices or with a rental sign.
- Draw up an inventory of all items in the house, and what condition they are in.
- Arrange viewings.
- Supply prospective tenants with a tenancy agreement that has been written up. You can find a template online. Ensure all appropriate information is included!
- Make any reference and credit checks on potential tenants.
- Paid tenants deposit and put this in deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it.
- Ensure smoke alarms and Co2 alarms are fitted and are in working order.
- Fire doors may be required, depending on the type of property. A property safety expert could give you an idea on whether you require this.
- If a block of flats, ensure there is an exit sign and that the escape routes are clear of obstacles.
- Supply extinguishers and fire blankets for extra safety.
- The exit door should be able to be opened from the inside without a key.
- Ensure that all upholstered furniture complies with the Furniture & Furnishings Regulations Act 1988.
- There needs to be a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance.
- You may need a housing health and safety rating (HHSRS) which is a risk based evaluation tool to identify risks in properties – (rates 29 areas of potential risk).
- Tenants can request any hazard checks they are concerned about and you must take action on any notices.
- The house should be free from damp.
- Ensure heating is efficient, safe and economical, and that the roof has good insulation.
- Windows should be of a reasonable quality, without gaps letting in drafts.
- You can claim on your tax return against the cost of buying and installing energy saving items (LESA).
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- Ensure your house has adequate lighting, and that all light switches are easy to find and operate.
- Stairways should have two switches so they can be operated from the top and bottom.
- Windows can be opened in, particular toilets, bathrooms and kitchens. Where this is not possible, fans should be used.
Gas and electrical
- Electrical appliances and sockets should be safe.
- Annual gas safety checks on each appliance, and keep records of this.
- Ensure gas equipment and supply is safely installed and maintained by a gas safety registered engineer.
- If not going through an agency, advertise your property by putting up notices in community noticeboards, libraries, using online websites such as gumtree, openrent, rightmove and spareroom or place a ‘to let’ sign outside the building. Be careful though as this notifies any burglars that the property may be vacant.
- The property should look its best from the inside and outside.
- Exterior: tidy up the garden and frontage of the house, ensure the house number is visible.
- Interior: repair anything that needs fixing, tidy up any stains with a lick of paint, remove any clutter and ensure the house doesn’t have any bad odours.
- You (the landlord) are responsible for sorting out most repairs in your home, and when tenants inform you of repairs, you must see to them as soon as possible.
- When entering property to deal with any repairs, you must give your tenants 24 hours’ notice.
- It is a wise idea to leave tenants with a list of repair services if they need to call someone and you are unable to deal with it.
- The names of all prospective tenants.
- Your name and contact details.
- The property address.
- The start and end date of the tenancy.
- The deposit amount and how it will be protected and when and how it will be returned.
- The rental amount and how and when it’s paid.
- When the deposit can be fully or partly withheld, e.g. damage caused by tenants.
- Any tenant or landlord obligations, e.g. tenants putting utility bills in their names.
- Which bills your tenants are responsible for.
- Whether the tenancy can be ended early and how this can be done – this is called a break clause.
- Who’s responsible for minor repairs (other than those that the landlord is legally responsible for).
- House rules, e.g. smoking/ noise levels/ guest allowance etc.
- If you require your tenants to have guarantors, then a separate guarantor form should also be given with tenancy agreement.
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Types of tenancy
Periodic: Tenancy is on a rolling month by month basis (or week by week).
Fixed-term: A fixed term tenancy lasts as long as stated in the tenancy agreement. Fixed tenancies can be extended or renewed if the tenant and landlord agree.
In a periodic tenancy, this can be changed once in a year as long as tenants agree in writing.
For a fixed term-tenancy, tenants must agree to an increase. If tenants don’t agree, it can only be increased after the term ends.
Changes to tenancy agreement
Any changes made must obtain an agreement in writing, signed by tenants.
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If both parties agree, then the termination can happen immediately. This needs to be in writing.
If they are in a periodic tenancy agreement and you have put their deposit in protection, then you must serve a section 21 notice to evict tenants.
If you have a fixed tenancy you can only ask your tenants to leave if you have a reason as noted in the Housing Act 1988. You will then need to serve a section 8 notice to quit on the tenant. You must give at least 2 months’ notice.
If tenants do not leave, you can contact the courts for a possession order.
The amount of notice depends on the grounds of which the possession is made.
If you want to end the tenancy, you must give your tenants notice, which varies from 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the type of rent, and the reason given.
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Tenants want to leave
Your tenancy agreement should state how much notice to give your landlord if you are going to leave.
You are required to pay your full contract rent unless:
- There is a break clause in your tenancy agreement
- Your landlord agrees to end the tenancy early
Legal disputes/ complaints
You as a landlord must hold your tenant’s deposits in a protection scheme.
If you dispute with your landlord getting back your deposit, you can seek help from the Deposit protection scheme. They can offer free deposit resolution help, and for a small fee can protect your deposit.
You can decide to withhold all or sum of a tenant deposit if they have damaged your property in any way or not paid all of their rent or bills. This must also go through the deposit protection scheme.
To avoid disputes, you should encourage tenants to take photos when damages occur, keep hold of bills and repairs made.
Damage vs. fair wear and tear
There are now specific guidelines for what constitutes damage, as opposed to mere wear and tear. Genuine damage is damage that could have been avoided, such as a burn on the carpet or a deep scratch in a countertop.
Damage examples: a burn in the carpet, lost items, burns and cuts on countertops and smashed windows.
Wear + tear constitutes dirty and worn carpets and countertops, dirty windows, loose wallpaper and plaster cracks.
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