Landlord's Checklist

Whether you are letting your own home or becoming a buy-to-let landlord for the first time, there are plenty of things you will need to consider. Most of these we set out below;

  • Is the property in good condition internally and externally, windows and doors secure and safe, and locks fully functioning?
  • Is the property in good order and properly clean?
  • If the property is a leasehold flat, have you obtained freeholder’s consent?
  • Make the tenant aware of obligations contained in your headlease.
  • Make sure to notify your insurer, and check that you are insured for third party and public liability.
  • Decide whether you are prepared to accept pets, smokers, or housing benefit.
  • If the property is mortgaged, obtain mortgagee’s consent to let.
  • Understand your obligations – as landlord you are responsible for the structure, exterior, services, heating and hot water, sanitary installations, hard wired smoke detectors etc
  • Gas Safety Certificate – requiring annual inspection by a qualified Gas Safe engineer, plus Electrical hardwire test (recommended at least every 5 years) and Portable Appliance Test (annually) for appliances left in the property.
  • Check furnishings comply with Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (excludes carpets, curtains and duvets) and ensure furniture is appropriately labelled.
  • Label stop-cocks, fuse boards and cut-off switches clearly.
  • Provide manuals for boiler, cooker and other items of equipment.
  • Understand the lease you propose to use, read it carefully to ensure it covers all the issues relating to your particular property, and clearly sets out who pays for what. Make sure it conforms to current regulations. Be aware of the notice periods for termination.
  • Obtain an Energy Performance Certificate prior to marketing, and supply a copy to the prospective tenant.
  • If you are considering sharers, make sure the proposed letting doesn’t fall under the Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Regulations.
  • Undertake comprehensive tenant vetting and credit checking. Seek a guarantor if there are concerns. Don’t accept a tenant unless you are completely happy with them.
  • Prepare or arrange a detailed inventory and schedule of condition. Use plenty of photographs, and make sure each party signs every page of each copy.
  • Be prepared to hand over a minimum of two sets of keys, or one set per tenant.
  • Provide full contact details to the tenant along with bank details for the rental payments.
  • Make arrangements with a Government-registered tenancy deposit scheme to hold the tenants’ security deposit. Be aware of the strict timescales and financial penalties for failure to comply!
  • Keep accurate records of all income and expenditure. Remember you are obliged to submit a tax return to HMRC, and if you live abroad you will probably have to obtain a foreign landlord exemption certificate, if your agent is not to withhold tax at source.

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