Landlord checklist for renting a house to new tenants

Landlords Jun 25, 2021

Being a landlord comes with a wide range of responsibilities. From making sure your property abides by all safety requirements to checking your tenant’s amenities are fully functional, it can be challenging keeping track of all compliance documents you need while simultaneously addressing the complicated logistics of ensuring that there is a smooth move-in experience. While property management may be complicated, ensuring you’re meeting all necessary requirements doesn’t have to be. Take a look at our new tenancy checklist, including operational tips and crucial compliance know-how, to confirm you’ve completed all the essential tasks before your tenant receives the keys.

Check you have the right licence

In order to demonstrate your property is suitable for residency and meets the required legal standards, a property licence may be required. Check with your local authority to see what licensing requirements are in force in your area. If your property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) - meaning three or more people who are not from one household share facilities - many councils will require a property licence, especially if it is a large HMO.  Each HMO licence is valid for five years maximum and a separate certificate is necessary for every HMO a landlord owns. As well as HMO licensing, some councils may require licences for any type of private landlord, including additional licensing and selective licensing.

Remove all of your/your previous tenant's belongings

Make sure all belongings are removed from the property except for what you plan to leave for new tenants. Most standard AST contracts will state that the tenant shall receive the property free of any possessions that do not form part of the tenancy itself, so make sure to arrange removal of any items prior to the start of the new contract.

Any items left behind by previous tenants still belong to them, so landlords are therefore required to give notice to prior tenants of any disposal plans regarding these possessions. While it is customary to wait three weeks before disposal, contact your previous tenant, through their new forwarding address or phone number, if possible, to expedite the process. Unless otherwise specified in the tenancy agreement, tenants are entitled to at least three months' notice of a landlord’s intention to sell a possession, as stated in Part II of Schedule 1 of the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.

Check the smoke alarms

Landlords are required to install at least one smoke alarm in every storey of a rental property utilised as living accommodation, along with a carbon monoxide alarm in any room in rental accommodation where solid fuel is used. Solid fuel includes a wood burner, biomass, and coal-based fires. Prior to the start of a new tenancy, landlords are also required to check all alarms are fully functional.

Take meter readings

Accurate meter readings are crucial in preventing landlords and tenants from being over-billed for energy consumption. Check the meter readings at the start and at the end of a tenancy, and record the readings in your inventory. In your tenancy agreement, clearly state who is responsible for utility bills (including gas, electricity, water, and council tax). Tenants are usually responsible for paying for their own utilities, but landlords may become liable for unpaid bills due to unclear language in the tenancy agreement.

Provide tenants with an EPC

Make sure tenants have a copy of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), provided by either you or your acting agent. Since April 2020, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) have been applied to all existing tenancies, requiring all rental properties to have a minimum EPC rating of “E” or higher. EPCs are issued after your Domestic Energy Assessor performs an Energy Assessment Survey on your property, confirming all criteria have been met. They are valid for ten years.

Provide tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate

If applicable (i.e if your property has a gas supply), you also need to make sure your tenants are provided with a Gas Safety Certificate, by you or your agent, before they move in. Landlords are required to ensure all gas appliances and flues in a property undergo an annual gas safety check through a registered Gas Safe engineer. Upon a successful inspection, you will be provided with a Gas Safety Certificate. For new appliances, a gas safety check must be performed within 12 months of installation, followed by an annual inspection. Tenants should be issued a copy of the safety check within 28 days of the check’s completion.

Make Sure Tenants have an EICR

As of July 2020, landlords in England and Wales are required to hire a qualified electrician to perform an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) every five years. As of April 2021, all tenants are required to have a copy of the EICR certificate, regardless of the start of their tenancy. A EICR certificate assesses the safety and condition of all electrical installations on a property (though note that this does not include a PAT test of any portable appliances).

Supply Tenants with a Copy of the How to Rent in the UK Guide

Private residential landlords in England are required to provide tenants with a copy of the “How to Rent” Guide created by the UK government. Landlords need to either supply this directly or confirm with their agent that the tenants have received a copy.

Notify your insurance providers

While landlord insurance is not legally required in the UK, it does provide extra protection for many of the financial risks experienced by landlords. From accidental damage to loss of rent, landlord insurance is a smart move to make to protect your major rental investment. If you already have insurance, notify your provider of the change in tenancy to avoid any potential issues later on regarding the terms of your policy.  

Notify the utility providers

Informing energy suppliers of chance in tenancy can prevent utility disruption in between tenancies. Make sure to remind tenants to change the name on the utility bills to theirs to avoid confusion over payment of bills as well.

Arrange an inventory

Take inventory of your rental property's contents and condition before a tenant’s move-in day so that this can be then compared to the final state of the property at the end of tenancy. Typical inventory reports include detailed descriptions of contents, fixtures and fittings, and infrastructure with accompanying digital media as evidence. While it may be cheaper to take inventory yourself, consider hiring a professional, as their services can help you save money later in any potential legal matters. Hiring a professional guarantees inventory is recorded in sufficient detail from all proper angles. This can save you time and the headache of dealing with a deposit dispute without sufficient evidence to support your claim.

Ensure the property is clean

Before your tenants check-in, clean your property to the standard you wish the tenants to return it in. Vacuum and sweep the floors and clean all windows. To make sure the flat is properly clean, don’t forget to scrub areas such as toilets, tubs, the stove, and refrigerator. Take pride in your investment and welcome new tenants with a freshly cleaned home.

Create an information sheet for tenants

To make ease your tenant’s transition and facilitate open communication, create an information sheet which includes, but is not limited to: your contact details, utility providers and account details, instruction manuals for any white goods, any alarm codes, monthly rent schedule, and bin disposal schedule.

Collect the first month’s rent

After you ensured all legal obligations have been covered, collect the first month’s rent (or first quarter or 6 month's rent) from the tenant. Usually the first month’s payment is collected in advance, so you should check with your agent to ensure that funds have cleared before handing over any keys to the property.

Register the deposit with a government-backed scheme

You must put your tenant’s deposit into a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP). This can be through the Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits, or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Tenants must then be provided with a copy of the prescribed information within 30 days. Additionally, if you are requesting the first month’s rent and deposit at the same time, clarify which payment is for what and how much rent is covered by the payment in a clear statement of account.

Arrange key cutting and handover

Cut at least one set for every tenant, the managing agent (if applicable), and one for yourself to keep. It’s usually cheaper to cut them yourself, as managing agents will add a margin on top of the cost price. Determine who will facilitate the key handover, whether this is the inventory clerk, you as the landlord, or the managing agent, or simply make the keys available via a secure lockbox at the property.

Author: Julia Kaluta

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