If you’re thinking of letting your home you’ll know that the process can be complex and time consuming.
We’ve created our landlord guide below to run down what you need to know, and what you’ll need to have in place to help you find the right tenant.
For tenants, finding a rental property online is now by far the most common way to search for somewhere to live. Research from Rightmove has shown that as many as 92% of tenants search for a property in this way. Rightmove and Zoopla are the two biggest players in this space with Rightmove in particular holding 77% of the market. Using a letting agent who will advertise your property on these sites will be crucial to ensure you receive the online exposure you need to find the right tenant for your property. Some properties have been known to be rented within 48 hours of being posted on these sites.
Getting professional photos of your property makes a real difference in the way your property is presented and can help you find the right tenants quicker. It isn’t just a case of using a better camera. A professional photographer will be able to choose the best angle, lighting and accentuate the spaces in your property. As even mobile phone screens are now high resolution, having good quality, sharp and vibrant photos is more important than ever. Research from Upad has shown that professional photography leads to a proven to increase of as much as 8 times the number of tenant enquiries.
Buying a featured listing on the largest property listing site, Rightmove, can help get your property in front of a greater number of potential tenants and help you fill your property quickly. Featured Listings mean your property remains at the top of search results and you have the opportunity to display more photos to help sell your property.
Before your new tenants sign on the dotted line thorough tenant referencing is a must for protecting you, and your biggest asset. It’s best to get this done by a professional referencing company who’ll check a tenant’s credit history, previous landlord and current employment. It’s generally accepted that the tenant pays for this to happen however, some landlords do decide to absorb this cost.
Once you’ve found a tenant and you have their reference in place a contract, known as a tenancy agreement, is key to making sure you’re legally protected. You can download a tenancy agreement template from gov.uk or for extra security you can get your letting agent to help draft one for you. Another important aspect of a tenancy agreement is the deposit. By law, you must hold your tenant’s deposit in a government approved deposit protection scheme – a good letting agent can assist with this and will also set up a standing order with the tenants to ensure the rent is paid on time every month.
Ahead of your tenant moving in there are a few things you need to do. By law, you must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The EPC is designed to give your property an energy rating and give your tenants a projected cost of the energy bills associated with the property. It’s also a lesser known fact that you would be unable to evict a tenant if you had not previously given them your EPC. Note that since 1st April 2018, some landlords must ensure their buy-to-let meets the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, with an EPC showing a minimum rating of E.
You’ll need to ensure that a gas safety check has been carried out within the last year. You must have a gas safe registered engineer carry out the check and get it done within 28 days of the annual renewal. It’s also important that you have working fire and carbon monoxide alarms within the property.
For extra piece of mind you might want to consider rental protection insurance. With rental arrears on the rise, as many as 28% of landlords have experienced non-payment of rent in the last 12 months, rental protection can help make sure you keep up with your mortgage repayments.