England Landlord Guidance

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Practical Checklist For Landlords: Obligations And Considerations

Preparation Before Letting

  1. before investing, prepare a business plan that takes into account the cost of the investment, running costs, cash flow and rent level. Allow at least a 10% return to cover costs and voids
  2. if necessary obtain permission from mortgage lender and/or freeholder for renting the property
  3. consider what part of the private rented sector market the property is designed to serve
  4. decide on the kind of tenant to let to. Is a tenant needing Housing Benefit an issue? Is the property to be let furnished or unfurnished?
  5. calculate realistically whether the rental income will cover loan or mortgage payments, repairs and all the other rental costs. If not, budget to set aside money from earnings each month (in the early years) to cover any shortfall
  6. decide on the likely market rent
  7. decide whether gas, electricity and water charges are included in the rent
  8. consider who will manage the property and the cost of this. If using an agent agree costs and levels of service
  9. ensure adequate levels of relevant insurance (check the policy is suitable for rented property)
  10. deal with the tax implications of the revenue stream and inform Revenue and Customs
  11. consider joining a landlord association and undertaking professional development
  12. obtain planning or Building Control approval for major improvement work done to property
  13. make sure the property is both safe and healthy for any potential occupiers or visitors, including;
  14. adequate heating and insulation
  15. free from tripping and falling hazards
  16. free from significant disrepair and asbestos
  17. good lighting and ventilation
  18. good security
  19. good sanitation, food preparation and is hygienic
  20. obtain a tenancy agreement suitable for your letting and avoid unenforceable unfair terms
  21. decide on length of letting
  22. advertise through the internet, agent, newspaper or other means
  23. obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  24. undertake an annual gas safety check by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  25. comply with the electrical and furniture standards
  26. ensure the property meets with the relevant fire safety standards with the fitting of alarms and/or smoke/heat detectors and emergency lighting.

If the property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO):

  1. ensure any electrical installation is inspected by a qualified person before letting and every five years subsequently
  2. contact your local authority to check whether a licence is needed and if it is apply for a licence and comply with the conditions of the licence and the HMO regulations
  3. ensure a fire risk assessment is carried out under the Fire Safety Order
  4. ensure that smoking does not take place in public areas in accordance with the Smoking and Health Act 2006

Before The Tenant Moves In

  1. check the ID of the tenant. One ID is required if passport or other travel document but two forms of ID will be required otherwise such as driving licence and birth certificate
  2. all documents obtained should be copied in electronic or hardcopy and kept for at least 12 months after tenancy ended
  3. if adult is a national of UK, EEA state or Switzerland no further action but if other national who has limited right to remain in UK, further checks will be needed

When The Tenant Moves In

  1. sign the tenancy agreement – two copies, landlords retain one signed by tenant and tenant should have one signed by landlord
  2. consider asking tenant to sign bank standing order form for rent payments, or letter of authority to the Housing Benefit office if tenant is on benefit
  3. complete and agree an Inventory and Schedule of Condition (consider using professional inventory clerk, if appropriate)
  4. give the tenant the landlord’s (or agent’s) contact details for repairs and other problems – name, address and telephone
  5. notify the utility suppliers and the local authority (for Council Tax etc) of the details of the new tenant/s
  6. inform the tenant/s of utility suppliers etc and read any relevant meters
  7. if charging a deposit and letting on an assured shorthold tenancy ensure that the deposit is protected under one of the schemes available and give the required information to tenants to confirm this
  8. consider any local council schemes such as deposit guarantees
  9. keep tax records of income and expenditure and if rental income exceeds (allowable) expenditure, set an amount aside to cover future tax demands. Complete a tax return ideally soon after the end of your tax year
  10. provide receipts to tenant for any cash rent payments
  11. keep detailed records of repair requests, inspections, safety checks, repairs done, other management issues and a rent statement.

When The Tenant Moves Out

  1. make a note of when a tenancy is due to end and see if the tenant wants to extend or renew their agreement
  2. if leaving, arrange a joint inspection of the property and agree on any damage or decoration that needs rectifying
  3. provide information about any cleaning required
  4. advise the tenant about taking final utility readings for an end of tenancy bill
  5. make arrangements for the handover of keys.