Being a landlord can be rewarding and profitable, but there are several tasks to carry out before you can charge rent on a property.
Follow our landlord checklist for renting a house to make sure you and your tenants get off on the right foot.
You might also want to take a look at our other guides:
- Landlord responsibilities: what buy-to-let owners need to know
- A landlord's guide to fire risk assessment in rental properties
- Mould in rental properties
- A landlord's guide to dealing with rent arrears
- How right to rent checks work
1. Perform right to rent checks
Landlords renting properties in England are required to perform right to rent checks on tenants to make sure they’re legally allowed to live in the UK. Scan passports, ID documents and other relevant proof of right to rent and be sure to keep your copies safe. Failing to carry out right to rent checks can lead to a hefty fine.
2. Get an energy performance certificate (EPC)
To rent out a property, landlords need to make sure they have an energy performance certificate (EPC) with a minimum efficiency rating of E. Any lower than this and you won’t be able to rent your property out. Tenants should be given a copy of the EPC, informing them how much the rented house or flat will cost to run.
3. Check fire safety
Checking rented properties have adequate fire safety precautions in place is a legal requirement for landlords. All properties need at least one smoke alarm fitted per floor of the house, as well as a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms with a solid fuel burning appliance.
Homes that are considered HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) may need extra fire safety features, such as fire extinguishers and fire doors.
4. Test electrics and appliances for safety
The electrical installation in your property needs to be checked and regularly maintained to make sure your tenants are safe. Appliances should be regularly checked for safety and should display the CE mark (the manufacturer’s claim that the product conforms with European safety laws). It’s recommended that you use a registered electrician for any electrical work in your property.
5. Get a gas safety certificate
If there’s a gas supply in your property, you’ll need to arrange a gas safety inspection each year. Give occupants a copy of the gas safety certificate at the start of their tenancy.
6. Give tenants the relevant information
For properties in England, landlords must give new tenants the government guide titled ‘How to rent’, which explains the rights and responsibilities of tenants. A similar document called the Tenant Information Pack should be given to tenants in Scotland.
7. Provide a clean, liveable home
Local councils use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to make sure properties are safe and in a liveable condition. From uneven stairs to patches of damp and mould, several issues could cause your property to be flagged up for a HHSRS inspection. To avoid this happening, carefully check your property before tenants move in to make sure it’s hazard free and comfortable enough for people to live in.
8. Take meter readings and update utility suppliers
While tenants are usually responsible for paying utility bills, it’s still important that you tell the suppliers of your property when new occupants move in. Taking water, gas and electric meter readings as soon as previous tenants move out will help avoid issues around who owes what. You should also make sure your tenancy agreement clearly outlines the tenant’s responsibilities when it comes to utility bills.
9. Change locks
Changing the locks on your property isn’t a legal requirement but could be a good idea if you think past tenants may have made copies of keys. It also shows new tenants that you care about their safety and privacy and have taken steps to protect them against intruders in their home.
10. Check tenant references
It’s a good idea for landlords to check references of prospective tenants before agreeing to rent property to them. Affordability checks and credit history are common things to consider. If the tenant has rented in the past, asking previous landlords for a reference will give you an idea of how well a potential occupant keeps up with rent payments.
11. Arrange a tenancy agreement
Property rental should always begin with a signed contract between the landlord and tenant, stating the agreed terms of the tenancy. Legal rights, responsibilities and the length of the tenancy should all be outlined, as well as any conditions you’d like the tenant to abide by. Check with a solicitor to ensure your tenancy agreement is watertight.
12. Conduct an inventory
Make a detailed list of everything that’s included in the property when the tenants move in. Have your tenants sign it to say they agree with what’s on the list and give them a copy to keep. An inventory means that if anything in your property is damaged or stolen, you’ll have grounds to deduct the cost of repair or replacements from the tenant’s deposit.
13. Protect your tenants’ deposit
Your tenants’ deposit should be protected using a government-approved scheme such as the Deposit Protection Service. Any disputes over deductions from the tenant’s deposit can be settled by your chosen scheme’s appeal process.
- Find out about Admiral’s Landlord Insurance.