Tips for New Landlords before Letting
Renting residential property can be a minefield for the uninitiated. To protect yourself, your investment and your tenants, here are some tips that you need to consider before a letter takes up residence in your property.
Take Safety Seriously
Landlords are obliged by law to keep tenants safe by ensuring the proper maintenance of gas and electricity appliances and fires. The law requires that you have a valid gas safety certificate at all times, which must be updated annually. Although there is no legal obligation to have a similar electricity certificate, it is really the only way to prove that you have fulfilled your legal duty, so it is a good idea to get a new one every 3-5 years. Furniture and furnishings must display fire safety labels. Items which don’t are illegal and must be removed. To avoid the complications of finding suitable furniture and furnishings, use a professional contract furnishings enterprise such as Peel Mount. It is also a good idea to install heat and smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide alarm in your property. We all deserve to be safe in our homes. Bear that in mind.
Reference Your Tenants and Get a Deposit and Guarantor
Non-paying tenants mean no income and mounting mortgage payments which you struggle to cover. To ensure that no-one uses your property as a free residence, take the right steps and significantly reduce the chance of problems arising down the line. Consider several applicants, reference them and choose the best, rather than settling for the first person who enquires about your home. Trust is a lovely concept, but it ought to be earned. You should also take a deposit to ensure that you have some monetary guarantee of good behaviour. It’s a good idea to get a parent or relative to act as guarantor, to ensure that the rent will be paid even if the tenant can’t afford it.
Use a Written Tenancy Agreement
Never agree to let a property without a written tenancy agreement. You can draw one up easily and simply by buying online or from a stationer like WH Smith. A written tenancy clearly outlines the agreement, making disputes easy to resolve and simplifying any court action which may be taken. Letting property on a verbal agreement is an utterly foolish act, and puts you in an incredibly vulnerable position. Ideally, your all-important written agreement should be signed and witnessed to authenticate its legality. Keep this document safe and create a second copy which you keep apart from the first.
Tell Your Lender and Freeholder that You’re Letting
If you fail to inform your lender that you are renting the property out, you will be in breach of your mortgage conditions, which threatens the validity of your insurance. The only recommendable course is to inform your lender. Most will not have an issue with a residential property being converted to a buy to let. In the case of a leasehold property, inform the freeholder of the let, passing on the tenant’s name and contact details in case of emergency. You may find that there is a charge for updating records, especially where the freeholder is a council.
Now all that you have to do is find some tenants for your property.