Starting out as a landlord can be an exciting but challenging time. After all, being a great landlord takes a lot of hard work and dedication; with tenants to keep happy and legal requirements to meet, it’s true that private sector landlords have lots of responsibilities. However, once you understand what it takes to be a successful landlord, it can be an enjoyable and lucrative opportunity. If you’re not sure what it means to be a landlord, read our ultimate checklist for everything you need to know. From the importance of getting insurance to what’s involved in a rental valuation, we’ve compiled all the information you need to let properties legally and successfully. Read on for more information!
When you rent properties, it’s your responsibility to ensure they are safe and livable for your tenants. This includes making sure the property and its appliances are gas and electricity safe. Before you advertise a property to let, make sure you have:
Staying compliant is a key part of being a great landlord, so make sure you have your rental properties inspected by qualified and accredited electricians and gas engineers in line with the Government’s regulations.
Before renting out a property, you must also ensure that it’s fire safe. This includes having smoke alarms fitted on every floor of the property and making sure there’s a carbon monoxide detector in any room which contains a solid fuel-burning appliance. When furnishing the property, you must also choose furnishings which have been manufactured in line with The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
Additionally, make sure there are clear fire escape routes. Be careful not to block them with furnishings and make sure your tenants are aware of the escape routes upon moving in.
Getting an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is another legal requirement for private sector landlords, so make sure you have this arranged before your tenants move in. Under The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015, the minimum energy efficiency standard for rental properties is E. If your property doesn’t achieve an E rating or higher, you won’t be able to legally let it out to tenants until you’ve made the necessary improvements.
Tenants won’t want to move into your property if there are maintenance works and interior design projects still to be completed. With this in mind, make sure you can commit to finishing all maintenance and design works before your tenants move in.
You should also avoid taking care of these projects yourself unless you have the necessary experience and qualifications to do so. This is especially important if you’re having any electrical or plumbing works completed; these projects must be undertaken by an accredited professional and completed in line with the appropriate regulations.
A well-decorated property will also make it much more attractive to higher-paying tenants, so consider this before you pick up a paintbrush!
To furnish or not to furnish? This is a question that all new landlords will need to answer! When making your decision, there are some pros and cons to each choice. Generally, you can charge more for furnished properties as your tenants won’t have to worry about investing in new bed frames, wardrobes or tables. However, providing furniture also means it will be your responsibility to repair or replace any furnishings that break.
When making your decision, consider your target demographic. If you’re renting to students, remember that many of them won’t have their own furnishings and will be looking for furnished properties. However, the opposite may be true if you plan to rent to families.
Whether you choose to furnish your letting or not, make sure to write a detailed inventory. A good inventory could help to solve problems at the end of each tenancy; if your tenants damage the property, your inventory will help you resolve potential disputes. There are lots of great inventory templates available online or you can hire a professional agency to assist you when writing one.
With this in mind, you should also agree on a policy for wear and tear. Make sure this is clearly stated in the contract so your tenants know exactly what they will and won’t be charged for.
Taking out comprehensive insurance is a key part of being a successful landlord and making sure you don’t lose more money than you’re making. After all, you want to make sure your rental properties will be protected in the unfortunate event that they get damaged. There are three main policy types to consider: building insurance, contents insurance and liability insurance.
Having comprehensive cover in place could help you financially and legally, so it’s certainly important to take out. Some buy-to-let mortgage lenders will also make landlords’ insurance compulsory, so make sure you double-check the terms of your mortgage agreement before selecting a policy.
As we’ve mentioned, there’s a lot to consider when starting out as a landlord. For this reason, many landlords - especially those new to the industry - decide to work with letting agents. Working with a dedicated letting agent is a brilliant way to simplify the process of finding great tenants, keeping up with maintenance works and staying compliant throughout the tenancy.
With a great letting agent, you’ll have a team of property experts on hand to help you with the tenancy from start to finish. For instance, they’ll take care of promoting your property and screening trusted tenants. They can also value your house, which we’ll discuss in the next point. Working with letting agents takes a lot of stress out of the job and is certainly recommended if you’re new to the industry.
When you first start out as a landlord, there’s one big question you need to ask yourself: what is the rental value of my property? Figuring out what rental fees you should charge your tenants can be difficult, especially if you’re a brand new landlord. After all, you don’t want to shortchange yourself or put your prices too high. You want to strike the right balance between creating an attractive property listing and making money, and the only way to do this is to charge your tenants a fair market value.
When you list your rental property through a letting agent, you will typically receive a free estimated rental valuation for your property. Seeking professional advice is always recommended for new landlords, so make sure you work with an experienced letting agent for an accurate rental valuation.
At Progressive Lets, we’re proud to help new and experienced landlords provide the best possible service to their tenants. As an independent firm, we are able to offer landlords a personal yet professional service at highly competitive rates. Whether you’re new to the industry or you’ve been a landlord for years, look no further than Progressive Lets for a letting agent you can rely on. If you want to know the rental value of your home or you need help with tenant screening, make us your go-to letting agent.
For more information about our range of services or to find out how we could help with your landlord responsibilities, get in touch with the team at Progressive Lets today. Based in Peterborough, we’re happy to work with landlords across the wider Cambridgeshire area.