In my years as a lettings agent I come across 2 types of misconceptions a lot. 1 is that renting a property is so overly simple, and the other is “oh my god, this is so complicated, what did I get myself into, I should’ve just invested into crypto”, like that’s any simpler. And the truth is its somewhere in between. It’s definitely not simple, but with a little guidance and preparation you will be fine.
The things I will go through in this article will be accurate to Jan 2022 and will probably apply to most of England, however please do check with your local boroughs regarding anything particular to your area, most likely licensing.
It’s around noon, you’ve been waiting for the call since you woke up. You’re anxious, excited and most likely upset with someone in the process of this purchase (most likely your solicitor, joooke). And the call finally comes, the voice in the phone says “congratulations, you’ve completed, please go and collect your keys from the estate agent” somewhat unceremoniously. After collecting your keys you walk out the door and start thinking to yourself “what the .. next”.
First thing you do is go and see the property to see if it’s in the condition you expected or at least just check what condition it’s in. It may be that the property needs light touch ups as a property can look very different when the keys are handed over to when you saw it lived in. A lot of the marks on the walls and damage to the sealant is somehow covered up. However, fear not, you’ll be amazed what a quick lick of paint and some sealant can do.
If there is no major renovation work to do, then you need to next look at getting the compliance certificates done. This would be the following:
- Gas Safety Certificate (GSC)
- Electrical Installations Conditions Report (EICR)
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
All three of the above are mandatory. It’s likely you would have an EPC if you have just bought it. But in any case, all EPC’s are held on an online database that anyone can access on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/find-energy-certificate
The GSC and the EICR are not on online registers so if you don’t have them then you need to get them done. When getting the gas safe done, you should also ask the engineer to install a carbon monoxide alarm and there should be a minimum of 1 smoke alarm in every hallway. While your gas engineers there get him to check the heating to see if it’s all working ok.
Other tests you may need to do are:
PAT test – Portable appliance test, if you are providing portable appliances.
Legionnaires test – This is to check that the water coming through the taps is safe to drink. Generally speaking, tenants should always try and run the taps for at least 20 mins to avoid legionnaires disease. Problems can happen when there is a large gap in between tenancies.
Next is licensing. This is dependent on your local authority and can sometimes get quite complicated. Being ‘The East London Blog’ and all I will use 2 East London boroughs as examples. In the London borough of Barking & Dagenham (LBBD) it doesn’t matter how many rooms a property has, they all require something called a selective license. In Tower Hamlets however they have 3 different types of licensing; Selective, Additional and Mandatory HMO. I will go into this in detail in a future article. I would advise speaking with a local property professional if you find it difficult figuring out which one you need. Lettings agents would usually offer this as a processing service.
Next, get it ready for advertising and viewings. If you are using a letting agency it’s likely they will take professional photos and floorplan. Staging the property helps advertising immensely.
You may want to ask your agent about whether it’s worth furnishing the property. It can depend on what area the property is in, or what type of property is. Certain areas need the properties to be furnished as it may only attract young professionals who may move the following year whereas other properties may only attract families who may already have their own furniture or want to buy their own. Same goes for the white goods.
Referencing your tenants. If you are using an agent, ask them who they use to reference their tenants and make sure it’s a reputable company, as there are many companies that do not do full checks.
I would strongly advise that you appoint a clerk to do an inventory, this is the best way to cover both yourself as a Landlord and your tenant. This can only be charged to the Landlord now after the tenant fee ban in June 2019.
Make sure that you and your tenants both sign a tenancy agreement so that you are both aware on your obligations.
And lastly, protecting the deposit. As a landlord you have to protect the deposit within 30 days of receiving it. Be sure to do this in time otherwise you can be fined for it. You have a choice of 3 government approved companies to do this with:
And that’s it, I told you, somewhere in between.