New landlord checklist
To create a checklist for new landlords, we've partnered with private rented sector expert, David Lawrenson, who runs the Letting Focus website.
Find out if you need to register as a landlord
Depending on where you live and where your rental property is located in the UK, you may need to register as a landlord.
In Scotland landlords must apply for registration with their local authority, which must be satisfied you're fit to be a landlord before you can proceed.
In Wales all landlords must register with Rent Smart Wales.
In Northern Ireland all private landlords must register with the landlord registration scheme.
In England, there's no blanket landlord registration scheme, although small local authorities have introduced their own licensing schemes. Licensing scheme.
Landlords in England must complete a right to rent check to make sure their prospective tenant has the right to legally rent property.
Get consent to let
To rent your property, you need to get consent from your mortgage provider. Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to get consent from the head lessee of the freehold and the co-owner.
If you don't get consent you could be in breach of contract of either your mortgage agreement or your lease, leaving you liable or open to court action. Also, if you don't tell your insurance company of your intention to let then it could invalidate your insurance.
Sort out your insurance
Getting the right landlord insurance is essential before you rent out your property. This helps cover you against the financial risks that come with running a rental property to tenants and covers risks often not included or offered as part of home insurance. Each rental property is different, so it's best to speak to an insurance specialist to secure the buildings, contents and landlord insurance you need.
Research letting agents
A big decision is whether to manage the property yourself or get a letting agent to do it on your behalf. If you have the time, the main advantage to running your own property is that you can oversee everything. This ranges from responding to tenant concerns and arranging repairs, to organising deposit protection and collecting the rent. If you lack the time to devote to your tenants and respond to their issues quickly, then it makes sense to enlist a letting agent to do this for you.
There are different levels of agency involvement and they will take a different percentage of the rental fee each month, which depends on much they're involved. That can include simply finding a tenant and processing the paperwork. Or it can also include collecting the rent, organising repairs and responding to tenant queries throughout their stay.
Find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of using a letting agent.
It's hugely important that you select a trusted, reputable agent. Make sure they are a member of a redress scheme, such as The Property Redress Scheme, The Property Ombudsman or Ombudsman Services: Property. Many letting agents are part of a trade association, such as the UK Association for Letting Agents, Association of Residential Letting Agents, and the National Approved Letting Scheme. These associations provide support and crucially Client Money Protection Insurance that covers client money. Find out more in our practical guidance on choosing a letting agent.
Get an EPC
It's a landlord's obligation to supply an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for every self-contained property with its own kitchen and bathroom facilities. The EPC rating lets the tenant know how costly the building will be to heat and light, with a £200 penalty fine for landlords who don't comply. Find out more here.
Before renting your property out, it's important to familiarise yourself with the legal obligations and responsibilities involved in being a landlord. These include adhering to:
- The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
- Gas safety
- Electrical safety
- Fire-safe furniture and furnishings
- General safety (including trip hazards, etc.)
Find out more about your responsibilities as a landlord in this article.
There was a time when an ad in the local paper might have been sufficient to secure a tenant. Today landlords advertise their rentals online.
Once you've found the right tenant, make sure you check their references and do the following:
- Conduct a right to rent check (in England only)
- Reference-check your tenants
- Provide tenants with the “How to Rent” guide
Start the tenancy
Before anything is agreed with your prospective tenant, it's important to make sure both parties are in agreement with the arrangement by undertaking the following steps:
- 1. Prepare a tenancy agreement. It's an essential and a legally binding document, so make sure you get a robust agreement that's fair and concise. Try the National Landlords Association free tenancy agreement online builder for free. Also, Direct Line for Business Landlord Insurance comes with its Legal Documents service that customers can use to draw up a tenancy agreement and have it checked by a qualified solicitor.
- 2. Remember to protect the deposit with a government authorised deposit protection scheme, such as mydeposits. In England and Wales you can be fined up to three times the deposit amount for not complying within the 30-calendar day deadline.
There are different legal requirements and details for landlords in England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey, but you must meet your obligations.
- 3. Carry out a detailed inventory to ensure you use it as evidence if you need to make a claim on the deposit for things like damage, missing items and cleaning when your tenant moves out.
- 4. Give tenants guidance on using any appliances. Ideally leave them the original manuals for all electrical/gas equipment.
- 5. If you're not using a letting agent, then have a standing order set up so you don't need to chase cheques.
- 6. Let the council know about the arrival of your tenants, as this will effect who pays the council tax.
If you've taken all the necessary steps to ensure the best communication and understanding takes place before the tenant moves in, then you're in the best place to have a positive living arrangement for both landlord and tenant.