Your landlord checklist before renting out your property

Image of a woman ticking off a checklist

Follow our landlord checklist for renting a house and becoming a landlord to make sure you and your tenants get off on the right foot.

Before you get started, below are a few questions you need to consider:

Do I need to register as a landlord?

If you rent out property in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of England, you must register as a landlord. You can do this online:

In some areas of England, all landlords need a permit. Other places only need those letting HMOs (houses in multiple occupations) to have one. Speak to your local council to check if you need to register. 

Should I use a letting agency?

Using a letting agent might be right if you:

  • don’t have much spare time
  • live in a different area than the property you’re letting
  • want someone else to deal with your tenants’ problems and questions
  • are inexperienced as a landlord
  • aren’t confident in the regulations and legislation

If the points above don’t apply, you may be better off managing your property alone, keeping costs low. 

What costs are involved in becoming a landlord? 

Firstly, you’ll have to pay a fee when registering as a landlord, which varies depending on the country or area you’re registering in. 

If you’re using a letting agent, you’ll pay them a monthly fee. Depending on how much they do for you, this fee could be 10-20% of the monthly rent amount. 

Besides the costs involved in setting up as a landlord, you’ll have other outgoings like:

  • monthly buy-to-let mortgage payments 
  • maintenance costs
  • refurbishment costs

Bear in mind that most buy-to-let mortgages are interest-only. So while your monthly payments are smaller than if you were paying off the loan, you should make sure you have a plan to pay off the remaining balance. 

There are also taxes payable by landlords:

  • mortgage interest tax relief
  • buy-to-let stamp duty

You may also need to pay income tax on your profit from renting. An accountant can advise you further on taxes and allowable expenses, so you’ll know how much to set aside to cover these payments. 

I’m an accidental landlord – does this information still apply to me?

In short, yes.

Maybe you’ve inherited a property and are thinking of renting it out rather than selling it, or you’ve decided to move into rented accommodation and rent out your house. 

Either way, you’ll still need to consider everything mentioned above. And you may need to consider the type of mortgage (if there is one) on the house. 

If there’s an owner-occupier mortgage, you must tell the lender you plan to rent it out, as the current deal may need replacing with a specific buy-to-let mortgage. 

I inherited a buy-to-let property – can’t I carry on renting it out? 

Inheriting a buy-to-let property can be tricky, so speaking to an independent financial advisor is best. They can consider your personal situation, as well as if the property has an outstanding mortgage. 

If it did, technically, the mortgage would have ended when the property owner died, so you may need to decide between re-mortgaging or selling the property. 

Do I need landlord insurance?

Landlord insurance is something your lender will expect you to have if you have a mortgage.

Landlord insurance usually has different levels of coverage. For example, our Landlord Insurance offers building cover, contents or a combined policy, including landlord liability insurance as standard.

Do I need tenant referencing? 

Yes, it’s a legal requirement to fill out tenant referencing. At a minimum, you’ll need to perform a credit check on the tenants. If you don’t check and you have landlord insurance, it could prevent you from claiming against your landlord legal protection. 

Read our tenant referencing for landlords guide if you’re confused. 

Preparing your property to rent

When you’re sure you want to take the plunge and become a landlord, you’ll need to do the following checks on your property. 

Get an energy performance certificate (EPC)

Landlords must have an energy performance certificate (EPC) with a minimum efficiency rating of E. You won’t be able to rent your property out any lower than this. 

Tenants should be given a copy of the EPC, informing them how much the rented house or flat will cost to run.

Check fire safety

You must check that your rented properties have adequate fire safety precautions in place — it’s a legal requirement. 

All properties need at least:

  • one smoke alarm fitted per floor of the house, 
  • a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms with a solid fuel-burning appliance.

Homes considered HMOs may need extra fire safety features, such as fire extinguishers and fire doors. Read more about fire risk assessments here.

Electrical safety testing

Electrical checks must be regularly carried out and maintained to make sure your tenants are safe. Appliances should be regularly checked for safety and display the CE mark (the manufacturer claims that the product conforms with European safety laws). 

It would be best if you used a registered electrician for any electrical work on your property.

Gas safe register

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. 

When you’re ready for tenants

When your property is ready to rent out, you need to remember the following points:

Carry out right to rent checks

Landlords renting properties in England must 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 the right to rent and keep your copies safe.

Failing to carry out right to rent checks can lead to a hefty fine.

Give tenants the relevant information

For properties in England, landlords must give new tenants the government guide titled ‘How to rent’. It explains the rights and responsibilities of tenants. 

A similar document called the Tenant Information Pack should be given to tenants in Scotland. 

Check tenant references

If the tenant has previously rented, asking prior landlords for a reference will give you an idea of how well a potential occupant keeps up with rent payments.

Affordability checks and credit history are other common checks to consider. 

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 follow. Check with a solicitor to make sure your tenancy agreement is definite.

Conduct an inventory

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.

Make a detailed list of everything 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. 

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.

Provide a clean and liveable home

Local councils use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to make sure properties are safe and liveable. 

From uneven stairs to patches of dampness and mould, several issues could cause your property to be flagged up for an HHSRS inspection. Avoid this by carefully checking your property before tenants move in, making sure it’s hazard-free and comfortable enough for people to live in.

Take meter readings and update utility suppliers

While tenants are usually responsible for paying utility bills, it’s still essential 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 about utility bills.

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.

Protecting your property and investment