There are many reasons why becoming a landlord may appeal to you, especially with rental properties being in such high demand. You may wish to rent out your own home while you move elsewhere or have inherited a property and become an accidental landlord. You may be considering an investment opportunity with a buy-to-let mortgage on a new purchase. Whatever your reason, it’s important to know that being a landlord is a time-consuming role and the process of letting your property can be complex.
At Trinity Finance, we can help you with various aspects of being a landlord, from arranging your buy-to-let mortgage to ensuring you have the correct insurance cover and recommending letting agents in your local area. Give us a call on 01322 907 000 to speak with one of our expert mortgage brokers or send an enquiry to us via our contact form and we will reply to you with more information as quickly as possible.
As a first-time landlord, it’s advisable to use the services of a letting agent to market your property, vet prospective tenants, collect the deposit, draw up the contracts and ensure you meet the legal requirements. If you prefer to tackle these tasks alone, however, we’ve provided some guidance below to help you make the most of your rental opportunity.
Marketing your property
Before you begin marketing your property, there are a few things you need to do to prepare it for rental purposes. First, you need to decide whether you prefer to offer the property as furnished or unfurnished to prospective tenants. If leaving it furnished, make sure you’ve removed any items that are personal to you or are fragile. Test the appliances to ensure they work properly and carry out any necessary repairs in the property. Ensure everything is clean and give it a lick of paint for a fresh look. Not only will these steps make your property more appealing to tenants when viewing it but they will also prevent any issues when new tenants move in, helping to ensure you form a good relationship from the start.
Tenants looking for rental properties are most likely to begin their search online. Ensure your property is listed on a popular site for maximum exposure to prospective tenants looking in your area. Letting agents also advertise properties through prominent portals, such as Rightmove or Zoopla. When using a letting agent to market your property, be sure to choose one that advertises on one of these sites. They are well-known and have a vast audience so you can expect increased visibility to tenants looking for your type of property.
Use a professional photographer
In a crowded market, your property needs to stand out, particularly when advertising online. One way to do this is by using professional photographs to promote your rental home. As tenants browse through a choice of suitable homes, a high-quality photograph will catch their eyes and lead them to look more closely at your property. When they peruse your listing in greater detail, they will be presented with more exceptional photographs that will persuade them to book a viewing. Whilst you may have a decent camera, a professional photographer knows how to get the best angle, how to arrange the lighting and how to present the room to accentuate the available space.
Consider the benefits of a featured listing
Another way to make your listing stand out from others online is to promote it as a featured listing. A featured listing places your home at the top of the search results and can include extra points to make it stand out and catch viewers’ eyes, such as a highlighted border and additional photographs.
Your prospective tenants
When you have a good standard of tenant, being a landlord is much easier. You need to rely on tenants who will look after your property, pay the rent on time and not be a nuisance to the neighbours. Therefore, before allowing tenants to move into your property, you need to vet them carefully. It’s important to:
- Check their right to rent — this is a legal requirement in England.
- Check their credit history. If they have an adverse credit rating, you can request that extra rent be paid in advance or ask them to provide a guarantor.
- Take references. An employer’s reference confirms their ability to pay the rent and a previous landlord’s reference puts your mind at rest as to how they conducted themselves during their last tenancy.
When taking a deposit from your tenants under an assured shorthold tenancy, it must be placed in a government-approved deposit protection scheme. This is a legal requirement and the deposit must be safely held until the end of the tenancy. When the tenancy has finished, the deposit must be returned to your tenants unless you are still owed for rent or damage has been caused to your property. Failure to place the deposit in a protection scheme can result in a hefty fine and lead to eviction issues. Different deposit schemes and rules relating to them apply depending on where your rental property is located within the UK.
You must have a signed contract between yourself and your tenants, which is known as a tenancy agreement. An assured shorthold tenancy (AST) is the most common type of tenancy so you will usually sign an AST agreement. When using the services of a letting agent, this will be drawn up for you. If you’re handling the letting process yourself, you can download a template for this via numerous portals online.
Safety requirements and other legal responsibilities
As well as checking a prospective tenant’s right to rent and placing a new tenant’s deposit in a government-approved protection scheme, you have other legal responsibilities to fulfil as a landlord before the tenancy starts.
Gas and electrical safety checks
Every gas appliance must be tested for safety and the gas safety certificate needs to be left inside the property. This is an annual requirement and the test has to be carried out by a registered engineer. All electrical appliances and equipment within the property must also be checked for safe installation and correct maintenance to comply with the electrical safety standards. You will be issued with a safety report, which is valid for 5 years, and you need to give a copy of this to your tenants. You must also keep copies of both the gas and electrical safety reports yourself.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
You must fit at least one smoke alarm on each floor of your property and check that they’re working correctly at the start of the tenancy. You also need to install carbon monoxide detectors in rooms where appliances that burn, or can be used to burn, solid fuel are located. Examples of these appliances can include a coal fire and a wood burner. Just like the smoke alarms, you need to ensure they are functioning correctly when the tenancy begins.
An Energy Performance Certificate
When renting out your property, you need to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This details the property’s energy efficiency with a rating from A to G. A is the best rating while G shows a very low efficiency rating. The EPC also details the typical energy costs for the property and ways to reduce them. An EPC is valid for 10 years and must have a minimum rating of E for a rental property. If your property fails to meet this rating, you must carry out the required improvements to increase its energy efficiency before you let it to tenants.
Fire safety compliance for the furniture and furnishings
If you decide to rent your property as furnished, you need to ensure that the furniture and furnishings you provide comply with fire safety standards. The appropriate compliance labels must be displayed on each item and any item that doesn’t comply with the regulations must be removed.
Ensure your financial interests are protected with the right insurance cover. There are various types of landlord insurance available, which include:
- Buildings insurance. This covers you for costs incurred by damage to your property that has been caused by a major issue, such as flooding, fire, subsidence or malicious damage.
- Contents insurance. Whilst your tenants need to have their own contents insurance to cover their belongings, you need to have contents insurance in place for whatever possessions you have left in the property. Even if you decide to let your property as unfurnished, contents insurance is important to cover items that can include your appliances, light fittings, carpets and curtains.
- Loss of rent insurance. Rent protection gives you peace of mind in the event that you stop receiving rental payments for your property. Loss of rent insurance provides cover when your property is rendered uninhabitable. This can be from damage caused by a fire, for example.
- Rent guarantee insurance. This type of rent protection covers you should your tenants stop paying their rent. When you rely on the rental income to meet your mortgage payments, you can take comfort in knowing that it will be covered via this insurance.
- Unoccupied property cover. This insurance covers your property when it is empty, such as between tenancies.
- Accidental damage cover. Should your property or contents be damaged by an unexpected event, this provides cover for the cost of repairs.
- Liability insurance. If your tenants or visitors to the property are injured or become ill due to a fault with it, you can be held liable. This insurance covers legal costs and compensation claims should you be found to have been negligent.
- Landlord legal expenses insurance. This covers your legal costs should you need to pursue your tenants for unpaid rent or take legal action to evict them.
- Landlord home emergency cover. This gives you access to emergency assistance for issues at the property, such as a significant water leak, a power supply failure or a boiler breakdown.
Our financial advisers, located throughout Kent, London and Edinburgh, can help you with all of your insurance needs as a landlord. Protect yourself financially against unforeseen situations and have peace of mind with a flexible insurance policy.
Benefit from a straightforward and rewarding experience as a landlord
When you’re thinking about letting your property, our financial advisers are ready to help you. As experts in this field, they can secure a competitive buy-to-let mortgage for you and ensure you have the correct landlord insurance cover in place. They can advise you on your responsibilities as a landlord and recommend local letting agents and solicitors to help with your buy-to-let arrangement.
Give us a call on 01322 907 000 to discuss the ins and outs of letting your property in more detail. If it’s out of office hours, simply send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or an enquiry via our contact form and we will reply to you as quickly as possible. We are here to help you get the most out of your rental opportunity and reap the rewards of being a successful landlord.