Despite continual changes to legislation relating to the letting of residential property in the UK, property still acts as a sound investment and a desirable option for many investors. Putting your money in ‘bricks and mortar’ is still a popular investment, with an ever-growing population and a shortage of properties. However, buying your first buy to let property can be daunting and many potential landlords are put off by what feels like an overwhelming amount of legislation to adhere to. Luckily, we’re here to help! I’ve created a handy checklist for first time landlords, covering most of the initial considerations when letting your property for the first time. I hope it helps!
- Condition – do think about the general condition of the property and address any outstanding maintenance issues. I am often asked about what sort of condition a property needs to be in, in order to let it. It’s certainly something to be considered on a property by property basis, but in a nutshell – better tenants do have standards. I am not suggesting that every property needs to be of new build, show home standard and often it’s unnecessary to spend big money on things like kitchens and bathrooms. However, it’s a good idea to ensure there is neutral decoration throughout which is in good condition before letting. If the decor is looking at all worn or heavily marked, I would consider redecorating before your tenants move in. This gives them a “blank canvas” and the inventory will clearly show the good condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. Other than fair wear and tear, the tenants are then expected to hand back the property in the same good condition. There may be numerous other “odd jobs” that are worth doing and normally these can be done cheaply by a handyman. If you’d like any advice on the condition of your property and what you might need to think about doing, then I am always happy to have a look and advise.
- Professional clean – I recently wrote another blog post on this so I won’t go in to huge detail here. All I will say is please please please, arrange a professional clean of your property just before the inventory is carried out – it should be done very close to the tenants moving in so that it doesn’t get dusty again. You can read that article here for more information – http://www.personalpropertyshop.co.uk/do-i-need-to-professionally-clean-my-rental-property/
- Operating manuals – if you’ve got appliance manuals then please leave those in the property, perhaps in a kitchen drawer. You can often source the manuals online if yours have been thrown away or lost, and it’s a good idea to leave these for your tenants. You should provide a manual for the boiler and all white goods, plus any other appliances that might be in place in addition to these. This will save you plenty of hassle in the long run as tenants won’t need to make calls to find out how to work things, which waste yours or your agent’s time.
- Keys – you’ll need to provide one set of keys to each adult tenant, give your agent a set (assuming you’re using an agent to manage the property) and you’ll probably want to keep your own set. You may well need to get extra ones cut. If we’re letting the property for you, then that’s something we will organise for you.
- Notify – you may well need to notify/obtain permission from various companies before letting your property. For example, is your property leasehold? If so, then you may need to obtain permission from the freeholder, depending on what is stated in your lease. If you haven’t taken out a buy to let mortgage, perhaps if you’ve previously been living in the property, then you’ll need to obtain permission to rent from your lender or swap to a buy to let mortgage. Likewise, you may need to change your insurance as well and get permission from your buildings insurance company. There are special landlord’s insurance products available which are often worthwhile too.
- Tax – have you got an accountant? Or will you do your own tax returns? Or perhaps you’re living overseas? One of our accountant contacts wrote a blog article for us on landlord’s tax returns which you can read here – http://www.personalpropertyshop.co.uk/do-landlords-need-to-file-a-tax-return-the-short-answer-is-yes/ . Do consider whether you’d be better paying an accountant to get everything right for you. If you’re an overseas landlord, then we will deduct your tax for you, at a basic rate of 20%, and pass this on to HMRC on a quarterly basis. We’ll also provide you with an annual certificate which you should keep a copy of. You can read more about the Non Resident Landlord Scheme here – https://www.gov.uk/tax-uk-income-live-abroad
- Agent – it’s highly likely that you will need a good letting agent to at least source your new tenants for you. 90% of our landlords choose our fully managed option, to avoid falling foul of the law and to save time and hassle. Very few landlords are fully aware of all the legislation that applies to rented property in the UK and so you could find yourself in very hot water by managing the property yourself. Are you really up to date with over 100 pieces of legislation that applies to rented property? Not only will an agent make sure you’re fully compliant, they will also take away a huge amount of hassle and time. Agents are set up to deal with the day to day management of a property, they have the right systems and processes and are doing it every single day. It’s also important to make sure you’re choosing the right letting agent for you – one that offers a personal service and has a high level of experience in letting property.
- Safety and certificates – there are numerous safety considerations and legal requirements in terms of making sure your property complies with the law. Here are a few things you’ll need in place before allowing your tenants to move in (and you’ll need to provide your tenant with copies) ; gas safety certificate, check furniture and furnishings are fire safety compliant, Energy Performance Certificate, smoke alarms on each floor, carbon monoxide detector – to name a few. Again, if letting through The Personal Property Shop, we organise all those things for you so you don’t need to worry.
There are far more considerations if you’re letting a HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) so do ensure you choose a good agent or do plenty of research first if this is what you’re planning.
There’s plenty more I could cover here but I felt that gave a good summary of the main points to consider when letting your first property. Ultimately, if you choose a good agent they will be of huge assistance in helping you ensure your property is compliant, suitable and managed effectively. If you’d like to discuss this further or would like some advice or help with letting your property then feel free to get in touch with me any time. My number is 01279 940840 and email is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Best of luck! Angela x