Whether you’re a full- time landlord or you rent out one or two properties to supplement your income, it’s really important that you manage your property portfolio as a business. Check out our top 5 tips for setting up a successful new tenancy.
1. Tenancy agreement
As with all good business, the contract is key! To that end, make sure you set out a comprehensive tenancy agreement, this will ensure all parties are aware of their responsibilities and know exactly what they’re agreeing to.
It may seem like a tedious task, especially if you’ve struck up a great rapport with prospective tenants, but things can quickly turn sour over small discrepancies. Be sure to include all the relevant information such as; the property address, names of all renters, the date the rent is due and how it should be paid, length of the tenancy, timings for any break clauses you may want to offer and information on how the deposit will be protected; as well as the costs of any penalties. You can find templates online to help you get started, but it’s always a good idea to have it checked by a solicitor to make sure you’ve covered all the bases.
2. Register the deposit
It’s now mandatory for landlords to register all deposits with a statutory tenancy deposit protection scheme, this keeps the deposit secure until the end of the tenancy and it protects both you and the tenants. In the unfortunate event of having to evict tenants, it will be fairly difficult, if you’ve not registered the deposit with a scheme. You’ll need to provide the tenant with details of the deposit scheme, the tenant deposit certificate, prescribed information and tenant leaflet within 30 days. Failure to register a tenant’s deposit can be severe, penalties include a court order to repay the deposit in full and up to a whopping 3 times the amount of the initial deposit.
3. Get insured
You’ll need to carry your buildings insurance as part of your mortgage agreement, it’s also important not to forget about contents insurance. Regardless of whether you’re renting the property furnished or un-furnished, contents insurance will cover you in the event of accidental damage. This may include kitchen and bathroom suites, carpets, flooring, etc.
It’s also a good idea to look into landlord liability insurance, this will protect you in the unfortunate event that your tenant is hurt or fatally injured as a result of living at your property.
Tenants should also be strongly encouraged to get their own contents insurance to cover their personal property.
4. Happy tenant, happy landlord…
Friendly, approachable, prompt and accurate…these are qualities all tenants would appreciate in a landlord. You want your rent paid on time and the property maintained in good condition, and the tenant will want any repairs or issues dealt with swiftly. Being a good landlord goes a long way to keeping tenants happy in your property, – the key is to be accessible and easy to talk to.
It’s also in your best interest to ensure you attend to repairs quickly, especially anything that may jeopardise the tenants’ safety to avoid a rent escrow. A rent escrow account can be applied by the court when a tenant reports their home not being properly maintained. This will mean rent payments being paid to the court until the repairs have been completed.
Give your tenants good notice and carry out regular property inspections to keep an eye on the condition of the property and remind tenants to contact you should any repairs need to be carried out.
5.Tenants document checklist
Last but not least, make sure you’ve given your tenants all the information they’ll need as part of the tenancy, especially key statutory documents. Statutory documents before moving in include; a specimen tenancy agreement, gas safety certificate, energy performance certificate EPC and the How to rent the checklist for renting in England.
Once the tenants have signed the tenancy and you’ve agreed on the inventory on the day of move in, you’ll also need to provide; a copy of the tenancy, inventory, emergency contact numbers and information on an emergency escape plan. You’ll also want to remind tenants to contact the local energy suppliers and council tax to put the utilities in their name. You can also include the property license agreement if applicable.
It’s best if you can prove that you’ve provided these documents in the event of any disputes. You can do this by sending; recorded signed for delivery, in person with a signature stating what they’ve received or better yet via email and request they confirm by return email that they’ve received the documents.
It’s key that you keep up to date with what the law requires you as a landlord to provide to your tenant as this may change periodically.