Preparing your property to let – the legal essentials
Our experienced lettings team will provide the latest information and guidance to ensure you are aware of your legal obligations as a landlord.
Energy Performance Certificate
All properties for rent must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and there are timescales in which these must be made available to prospective tenants and then issued to proposed tenants. An EPC rates energy efficiency and its environmental impact. If you do not have an EPC for your property, Trading Places can arrange for one to be carried out by a Domestic Energy Assessor.
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords have a legal obligation to make sure all gas pipework, appliances, fittings and flues are safe to use and maintained in a safe condition. Every gas appliance and flue must be tested for gas safety every 12 months. A Gas Safety Record must be provided to existing tenants within 28 days of the annual safety check, or to new tenants before they move in, and you must keep copies yourself for two years. All installation, maintenance and safety checks must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. We can arrange this for you.
Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2010
Upholstered furniture and soft furnishings supplied in a rented property must comply with current regulations. This includes, but is not limited to, bed frames, mattresses, headboards, sofa-beds, pillows, cushions, seat pads and any garden furniture that may be used indoors. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. All non-compliant items must be removed before a tenant moves in. Bedding, carpets, curtains and any furniture made before 1950 are exempt.
Landlords are required to ensure the electrical installations in a rental property are safe when a tenant moves in and maintained in a safe condition. It is strongly recommended you employ a suitably qualified electrician to inspect the installations (every 5 years, or sooner if their report requires) and arrange for portable appliances to be checked (annually). In some cases electrical checks will be a legal requirement and/or a condition of a council licensing scheme.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
In October 2015 new regulations came into force requiring landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their rental property and test them at the start of every tenancy, and to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms, such as those where a solid fuel appliance is situated. The government suggest “responsible” landlords are expected to fit carbon monoxide alarms even when not legally required to do so.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
If you own a property and rent it out, your local council may decide to do an HHSRS inspection. Inspectors look at 29 health and safety areas.
Consent to Let
If your property is mortgaged, you must obtain written consent to let from your mortgage lender. If it is leasehold, your lease may require written consent from your landlord before you can sub-let.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
If you let to a family, they are deemed to form one household. When you let to a group of sharers, the number of households within the property will change and with it some requirements. When a property is deemed a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), a landlord can face extra legal obligations and in certain instances require a HMO licence. We can advise you on this.
Landlords should ensure they have adequate building and contents insurance cover in place. Other considerations include Public Liability Insurance and Rent and Legal Protection.
Letting your property – moving your tenant in
It is important to ensure everything is in place for a smooth and trouble-free start to renting out your property.
This sets out the rights and obligations for both Landlord and Tenant making clear their respective responsibilities. Most residential property is let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) with an initial fixed term of 12 months a popular choice. We ensure our tenancy agreements remain up to date with regulation changes and are carefully designed to protect the landlord’s rights to possession and help control tenant activities.
Inventory / Schedule of Condition
An inventory provides a crucial legal reference in case of any discrepancy or claim against a tenant’s deposit at the end of the tenancy. They should be comprehensive and contain photographic evidence plus a full written description of the property including its contents, fixtures, fittings, walls and floor coverings. Most landlords are surprised by the level of detail on our inventories and soon appreciate the difference between a professionally prepared document and a simple list of contents on a handful of pages.
Utilities & Council Tax
Usually, it is the tenant’s responsibility to pay utility bills and Council Tax. We can organise all meter readings and arrange the transfer of water rates, gas, electricity, and Council Tax accounts to the tenant.
A deposit is paid by the tenant at the start of the tenancy to offer the Landlord a degree of security. Since April 2007, all Assured Shorthold Tenancies must be registered with a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. This must be done within a set timeframe from receipt of the deposit with significant penalties for non-compliance. In order to fully comply with the legislation, deposit rules also require the landlord to provide the tenant with certain prescribed information. If opting for one of our Property Management Services we can take care of this for you.
We normally collect a deposit to the value of one month’s rental plus £100 (e.g. the deposit for a rental of £1600 will be £1700). When registering and protecting the deposit on your behalf, and whilst employed as your managing agent, we will also handle any dispute which arises at the end of the tenancy. This will include initial negotiations with the tenant, the preparation of the evidence to support a claim and, if necessary, the submitting of your case to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (ADR), an independent and free alternative to court action.
Beginning the Tenancy
When the day arrives, the formality of signing and executing the tenancy will follow the issuing of all legally required documentation and, provided all monies have been paid in cleared funds, the keys can be issued to the tenant. You should provide one set to each tenant and a further set if we are appointed to manage your property.
Peace of mind for busy landlords
By choosing our Letting and Property Management Plus Service you can sit back and relax. Your dedicated Property Manager will look after everything and keep you fully informed.
Once your property is let the work doesn’t stop there. Today’s tenants can be quite demanding, expecting maximum value for their rental. Whether it is fridge failure or a leaking shower, you can be sure any tenant will want a swift repair, however inconvenient the timing may be for you. This is why our clients value our management services where we look after any repairs and tenancy issues for you. For your peace of mind, we also visit the property regularly and organise any maintenance and safety compliance checks, assuring you that your property remains in sound condition and your legal obligations
You will have your own Property Manager who will look after every aspect of the tenancy from start to finish. Our landlords tell us they appreciate the continuity and accountability of a single point of contact.
Don’t forget, our Lettings Manager is on hand to answer any questions you may have, and furthermore our entire team are at your service to collectively deliver a range of stress-free Letting and Property Management services.
When preparing to let your property you don’t want to overlook something important. If you choose us to let and manage your property we will alert you to what we need and when we need it by. If you feel comfortable organising and managing your own tenancy, why not use our checklist to help you. Whilst this is by no means comprehensive it makes for a good starting point.
- Ensure you have a valid energy performance certificate before any viewings take place
- Obtain consent to let from your mortgage lender and freeholder, apply for a license if applicable and arrange suitable insurances
- Check that your Gas Safety Record is up to date and provide a copy to your new tenant before they move in
- Ensure the electrical installations and portable appliances are fit for purpose and provide copies of any certification to your tenant
- Check with the local authority to see if your type of property and the proposed type of tenant requires a HMO licence
- Ensure the tenancy agreement is current, covers all required terms & obligations, is legally binding and signed by all parties
- Prepare a comprehensive inventory and schedule of condition, with photographic evidence
- Ensure the property has adequate smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, tested and in working order
- Register and protect the tenant’s deposit within the required timescale and ensure the prescribed information is issued in full
- Notify your local authority of the new tenant details for council tax
- Arrange for all meter readings to be taken and the transferring of utility accounts to the tenant
- Provide each tenant with a set of keys (check newly cut keys) and keep your own set to carry out periodic property visits
- Contact HMRC with questions about self-assessment or details about their NRL scheme if you are an overseas landlord
- Agree a programme to cover health checks and reviews such as fire safety, legionella and HHSRS
- Ensure you are compliant with any current requirements under the “How to Rent” booklet and “Right to Rent” checks
What to do next
There are a number of complexities involved in the letting of a property so seek the advice of a reputable and established agent to provide you with the necessary advice on what to expect.
Landlords have different and sometimes specific needs when it comes to the service they require and we can help tailor a package to best suit the needs of each and every landlord.
Download our lettings fees for landlords sheet
To find out more why not take advantage of our free, without obligation, market and property appraisal service, simply call us on 020 8558 1147
Contact us with any questions.