TOP TIPS FOR NEW LANDLORDS: GETTING YOUR HOME READY TO LET
So, you have a property you want to let. It’s in a good location and it’s not falling apart - potential tenants are sure to come flocking.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. Being a landlord means not only making sure that your property is legally safe and sound, but also that it is presentable and attractive enough to appeal to potential tenants.
Putting some extra time and effort in will ensure that your property will be occupied quickly, and that you’ll be able to secure the best possible rental price - and hopefully that your tenants will want to stick around for many years to come.
Sadly, it’s not just a case of giving the place a quick lick of paint (although that’s part of it), which is why I’ve put together some of my top tips for landlords who are getting their home ready to let.
1.Obtain Consent To Let
You might be wondering who has to consent to you letting out your house - and if you own the property outright then the answer is, ‘no one’. Rent away!
However, if you have a mortgage on the property, you’ll have to let your lender know your plans.
This is known as asking for ‘consent to let.’
If you don’t do this, and are found out, you’ll be in breach of your mortgage terms and conditions.
And here’s why…
You were given your mortgage based on the fact that you would be living in the property you were going to buy (owner occupation).
If you rent the property out to someone else, that’s no longer true, and your lender would be within their rights to demand you repay in full what you borrowed from them.
Impossible for most people.
Another thing your lender could do is issue penalty charges or limit how long you can rent your property out for.
Ok, but this is one of those things like asking your partner’s parents for their hand in marriage, right? Or asking your mate if they want to go for cocktails after work - it’s just a formality, isn’t it? No one’s really ever going to say ‘no’, are they?
Actually, asking for ‘consent to let’ really isn’t just a case of saying to your mortgage lender, ‘just to let you know, I’m gonna rent the place out…’, they really aren’t under any obligation to say yes...
….and there may be a few strings attached if they do…
Every lender is different, but you may well find yourself paying a higher rate to reflect the change in the use of your property, and you might also be charged admin fees.
This is why buy-to-let mortgages were devised, and in an ideal world you would have one on a property you wanted to rent out. If your lender won’t give you consent to let, it would be worth looking into switching mortgages.
2.Make Sure You Have Safety Certificates In Place
You won’t be surprised to know that when it comes to renting a property, there is a mountain of paperwork to sort out to ensure that both you and your tenant are protected - and this includes safety certificates such as:
● Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) - The EPC reviews and grades your property’s energy performance, and is one of the most important certificates for landlords to have. In fact, not having a valid EPC before you put your property on the market could land you with a fine of up to £5000! The minimum EPC grade is an E, and any property that falls below that standard can be considered legally unrentable.
● Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) - Since July 2020 it has been a legal requirement for landlords to have an electrical installation condition report in place when they rent a property. The title pretty much says it all - it’s a report that identifies the condition of the property’s electrics, and recommends if any improvements need to be made
● Gas Safety Certificate - it’s law that all landlords arrange for a yearly gas safety inspection on their property, to be carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer. All gas appliances, vents and pipes need to be checked and a copy of the certificate has to be given to the tenants.
3.Switch To Landlords Building Insurance
Just so you know, there’s no legal obligation to take out a dedicated Landlords Building Insurance policy once you become a landlord, BUT, it would be pretty daft not to.
Your normal buildings insurance isn’t going to cover rental activities - plus, it’s very likely that one of the terms of your lender when you ask for consent to let (remember that!), will be that you take out landlord buildings insurance before you let your property.
It’s well worth talking to an independent broker about your insurance options (we recommend the guys at More Than Money! https://morethanmoney.uk/ ) before you take the plunge!
It may come as a surprise to you to learn that not everyone likes bright green and yellow stripy wallpaper and mauve carpets (I know, right!), so in order to appeal to as many tenants as possible, I recommend neutralising your decor throughout - especially if there’s currently a bold colour scheme.
Light colours are best (cream, white, tan, for example), as they can make rooms look bigger, fresher and brighter, and ‘fit in’ with most people’s furnishings.
Grey is really trendy in interior design right now (thank you, Mrs Hinch!), but be careful not to overdo it. If you want to use grey or another slightly darker shade, try and just use it in areas such as the dining room or bathroom.
5.Book A Professional Clean
A sparkling clean oven really is a must if you’re going to be renting out a property, and when you take into account the time and effort it can take to do a good job, as well as the cost of shop-bought oven cleaners, it will probably work out quite cost-effective to use a professional oven-cleaning service.
In fact, arranging a professional clean throughout is a good idea full stop - especially if you are leaving white goods, or if you have had previous tenants.
Professionally cleaned carpets, bathrooms and windows could be the difference between your property being snapped straight up, or standing empty for another month.
6.Don’t Leave Outstanding Repairs
If that bathroom door handle still hasn’t been replaced, and you still haven’t got around to filling that hole in the living room wall from where you bet Mike you could throw a dumbbell further than him, don’t put it off now because you won’t be living there.
It’s these seemingly ‘small’ touches that will put potential tenants off - after all, if you’re not taking care of the little things, what else might you not have taken care of?
This also goes for any work that’s been started on the property. If you were installing a new shower in the ensuite for example, with a view to move in, and now aren’t - don’t stop halfway through just because you’ve decided to rent the place out!
Of course, an ensuite isn’t a legal requirement or a necessity, but you can’t charge the same rent as other ‘4 bed homes with ensuite’ in the area, if yours isn’t usable.
7.Get Spare Keys Cut
As a landlord you probably want to know exactly how many keys to your property are floating about, so that you can make sure the correct amount are returned to you when the tenancy ends.
You’re required to provide your tenants with one set of keys per adult, but it probably makes sense to keep hold of some spares just in case, and of course leave a set with your letting agent if you have one managing your property.
You’re able to keep your own set of keys to your property, but you can’t legally enter without prior permission from your tenants.
Want to know more? Get in touch with the Team at Smart Letting's 01656657033.