Landlords - Sowing the seeds for a good tenancy

Landlords - Sowing the seeds for a good tenancy
As a landlord, it's a fact of life that you are guaranteed to run into problems with your tenancies. However, there are a number of steps you can take to greatly reduce the severity and frequency of any issues you do run into. Below we take a look at what you can do to protect yourself.

Screening tenants

  • By asking potential tenants to complete an application, you'll get a better understanding of their suitability.  There are application templates online which will help you decide what to include in your tenant's application
  • Take a look through the application and see if your potential tenants have had any recent evictions or felonies.
  • Asking tenants to provide references, particularly from previous landlords, will help give you a good inclination of how they will behave in your property.

Manage expectations

  • Don't promise your tenants anything you can't deliver. If you make agreements with a prospective tenant during a viewing, make sure the details of these agreements are included in the tenancy agreement they sign.
  • Be clear about the standard you expect for end-of-tenancy cleaning. You can recommend a professional cleaning service to save your tenants the effort. Many tenants prefer to outsource their end-of-tenancy cleaning, so keep this in mind.

A thorough check-in and inventory

  • Make a comprehensive and professional inventory of everything in the property. At check-in go through this with your tenants, make sure everyone is happy with the inventory and ask them to sign it. This protects both parties should any disputes arise.
  • Be clear on who is responsible for maintaining areas such as driveways and gardens. In some properties this may change.

Taking a deposit

  • You MUST protect your tenant's deposit in one of three government backed schemes within 30 days of taking the money. If you fail to do this you will find yourself in a very vulnerable position as a landlord and could be liable to pay your tenant up to three times the deposit amount. Find out more here.

Good communication

  • Communication is the key to a happy landlord/tenant relationship. Of course, you should respect your tenants' privacy, but contacting them once a month will make them feel more at ease contacting you. This will come in handy if the property needs repairs. When visiting the property give at least 24hrs notice.

Landlord insurance

Being a landlord can be an expensive business, so it's important to have the right protection in place just in case something goes wrong. Landlord insurance isn't compulsory, but it can save you time and money in the long run.

There are different kinds of cover to consider:
  • Contents cover: When insuring your possessions, look for a policy that allows for a "new for old" basis in which your possessions will be replaced with new ones.
  • Buildings insurance: In case of an emergency your rebuilding costs will be covered with building insurance. This will help when it comes to replacing any fixtures and fittings.
  • Liability insurance: It is your duty to ensure your property is as safe as possible. Liability cover will protect you if a tenant becomes injured and action is brought.
  • Loss of rent insurance: It's important to be protected if anything unexpected happens, like if your tenants becoming unemployed. Insurance will cover lost income.

Legal compliance

  • EPC: All properties are legally required to hold an 'Energy Performance Certificate'. This will inform tenants of how energy efficient the property is.
  • Gas safety: Your property also needs a gas safety certificate, with a copy going to the tenant before moving in. Gas checks should be conducted annually and given to your tenant within 28 days.
  • Electrical safety: It is also a requirement to ensure the electrics in the property are in full working order, including plugs and sockets. It is recommended, but not required, to get a fixed wiring inspection from an electrician. They should be valid for five years.
  • Deposit protection: As above, it's legally required that you are registered to a deposit scheme. Failure to register and give tenants the correct information and certificates can result in action being taken against you.
  • Smoke alarms: Rented properties require at least one smoke detector per floor, which should be tested regularly. Any properties with a gas supply should also have a carbon monoxide alarm, but this isn't a legal requirement unless there is a solid fuel source.

Keep up to date accounts of rent payments

  • This will allow you to identify immediately if a rent payment has been missed and which tenant is the culprit, allowing you to act quickly.

Educate your tenants!

  • Tenants aren't as used to the technicalities of renting as you are. By explaining how and why you approach certain aspects of the tenancy you can build a stronger relationship with the tenants and help them abide by their tenancy agreement.

If you have any questions about how to approach a new tenancy or staying on top of your portfolio, please contact your local office today.

This article has been supplied by the Pervaiz Naviede Family Trust, property development experts committed to creating affordable homes and thriving communities.