Whether it’s your first tenant or your fiftieth, there are several important steps you’ll need to go through both before the big day and on the day itself.
Here’s a guide to everything you’ll need to check off as a landlord to help you get your house in order.
It’s easy to think that welcoming a new tenant is a simple case of handing the keys over and leaving them to it, especially if it’s your first time.
In reality, however, you have a substantial checklist of legal and functional obligations. Before we go into detail, here are three compelling reasons why it’s worth putting in the effort in the first place:
Get the relationship off to a good start
Building a solid relationship with a tenant from day one can make your life a lot easier in the long run. You’ll be better placed to work through any issues and they may stay in the property longer, saving you the hassle of starting the process again.
Stay on the right side of the law
There are many rules governing how landlords operate in the UK to protect you and the tenant. Making sure you’re on top of your legal responsibilities from the start will put you in a much stronger and safer position should anything bad happen during the tenancy.
What to do before your tenant moves in
With your tenancy agreement signed and a move-in date agreed upon, here are our top steps to complete before the event.
One final lick of paint in the property
Whilst it may look acceptable to the naked eye, make the effort to refresh any areas that need it. Scuffs, dents and other marks of “wear and tear” really add up over time and between tenancies is your best chance to refresh the property with a lick of paint. It will help you secure better tenants and set expectations of the standard you expect them to keep in the property. Showing a tenant that you care about their living conditions also starts the relationship positively.
Carry out final health and safety checks
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, introduced on the 20th of March 2019, emphasised a landlord’s responsibility to ensure that their rental property is fit to live in from the start of a tenancy and throughout.
Ideally, you’ll have had a good idea of whether your property was up to standard when you put it on the market. However, it’s still essential to carry out the necessary checks before your new tenants move in to ensure their safety and protect yourself from potential liability issues.
You’ll need to check your yearly CP12 (comprehensive gas-related equipment check by a Gas Safe registered technician) is still within date and ensure you hand a copy to your tenants. Any electrical equipment you’re providing will need a portable appliance test (PAT). You’ll also need to install a working fire alarm on each floor and within each main living area, as well as a Carbon Monoxide detector.
If these are all already installed, test whether they’re working, ideally in front of your tenants. If they aren’t working, replace them ASAP.
The act also covers elements such as heating, damp and pest infestations. It’s also worth identifying any areas that might need repairing, as it’s your responsibility to do so should they pose a risk to your tenants’ health and safety.
Consider landlord insurance
While it’s not a legal requirement, it may be worth considering if you need landlord insurance before renting out your property.
Landlord Insurance is not the same as regular home insurance. As well as the buildings and contents cover, you’ll also be able to include cover for loss of rent and landlord liability, giving you added peace of mind should any problems crop up.
Update your suppliers
It’s good to let your local council and utilities providers know that new tenants will be taking over responsibility for the bills associated with your property. If you have previous or current tenants, they will only be responsible for the bills when they were in the property unless they moved out before the end of their agreed notice period. You shouldn’t rely on your new tenants to do this themselves, so doing it will help to avoid the wrong people being chased for money they don’t legally owe. Take photos of meter readings and ideally do so with your new tenants present so they can confirm the readings.
Put together an up-to-date inventory
Your inventory needs to be a clear and professional document with written and photographic details of the condition and contents of your property. Inventories can help reduce the risk of a dispute at the end of a tenancy should any damage or suspected theft occur.
The amount you need to cover in your inventory will vary depending on whether you’re offering your property furnished or unfurnished, but make sure to include in-depth details of all of your furniture, equipment and fittings as well as notes of any marks or rips to carpets or wallpaper.
The big day has finally come around. Here are seven points to tick off:
Give it one last clean
Whether you hire a professional cleaner or do it yourself, you’ve probably already cleaned your property to a reasonable standard. However, it’s still worth arriving a little early on the morning of the move to give everything a final once over.
Check for any obvious signs of dirt or grime that you can easily deal with, including around sinks, cooking surfaces and anywhere else that could do with a dusting. Natural signs of wear and tear such as marks on walls or floors are okay as long as you’ve detailed them in your inventory.
Take final meter readings
While you will have already made your utilities providers aware of new tenants moving in, it’s important to provide accurate meter readings at the start of a tenancy to ensure the right people pay for the right amount of energy usage.
Take photos of the readings with timestamps to avoid any room for dispute.
Welcome your tenants
Next, prepare yourself to welcome your new tenants. This could be the first time you meet them, so while you don’t need to make any grand gestures, try to keep it as friendly and relaxed as possible.
Bear in mind that this could be an important day for your tenant. They could be moving out of home for the first time, moving in with a partner or relocating to a different part of the country. They also may have taken time off from work or travelled for hours to get there, so do your best to make them feel at home.
Hand over a Tenants information pack
The most important thing you’ll need to do on moving in day is hand over an information pack with copies of your property’s energy performance certificate (EPC), the most recent version of the Government’s How to Rent guide, and your Gas Safety certificate if you have gas appliances. If you use an agent, and this is part of the services they provide, they should’ve already done this for you. However, it is critically important you check this has been done, as failing to do so may mean you won’t be legally allowed to issue a section 21 if you want or need to evict your tenants in the future.
You may even want to ask your tenant to sign something to acknowledge that they’ve received everything.
Walk them through the inventory
Give your new tenant a copy of the inventory, and walk them from room to room, pointing out anything you’ve noted down. This lets both you and them check that everything is in the condition described and ensure that you’re on the same page. You may also add new details that you didn’t spot the first time.
Make sure you both sign and date your copies to reduce the risk of any disagreements over the deposit if/when they move out.
Explain how everything works
Many things about your property will be self-explanatory, but everyday items such as ovens, showers and washing machines can take a little getting used to from model to model. Talk your tenants through how to use them and leave instruction manuals in a convenient place.
Your property may also have specific quirks, such as a door or window that opens in a particular way. Taking the time to explain how everything works will save you from phone calls or emails should they run into a problem later on.
Agree how you’ll contact each other
Before you part ways, make sure to exchange contact details and communicate any preferences or boundaries you may have. This could involve asking them to always speak to you via email apart from in emergencies or encouraging them to stick to texts within certain hours of the day.
Communication is a vital part of any successful landlord-tenant relationship, so make sure you get off on the right foot. You may want to detail a few examples of what you class as an emergency and what you don’t to avoid any unwanted confusion.
What about recruiting a letting agent?
Being a landlord can be time-consuming, especially if you’re new to property management, balancing it alongside other work responsibilities, or perhaps managing multiple properties.
Many of the tasks detailed above could be handled by a letting agent for a small fee. It may be worth weighing up your options if you think you could benefit from a professional managing agent’s service during the move-in process or later on in the tenancy.