So you want to be a landlord?
Property continues to rise in price in the UK, making it a solid, long term investment. If you’re thinking about buying a property to let out, there are a number of things to consider as a first-time landlord.
As a landlord, you have a responsibility to your tenants. You must make sure your property is safe for them to live in at all times, and be available to make running repairs as they come up. Top of the safety list is the gas supply. Before a tenant moves in, the gas has to be inspected by a Gas Safe engineer who will check the pipework, flue, boiler and cooker where applicable. They provide a certificate if all is well, which you must keep safe, and this check must be carried out annually thereafter. When it comes to the electrics, all work should have been professionally carried out, and any electronic appliances you are providing for the tenants, like a fridge or vacuum cleaner for example, should be safe for use. Any furniture you are supplying, such as sofas, mattresses and soft headboards, must be fire retardant and have a label attached proving this.
What repairs are you responsible for?
The landlord is responsible for keeping the structure of the building - the sinks, baths, water systems, drainage and heating systems - in good working order. It makes sense for the owner of the property to keep these things working properly to maintain the place as a whole - leave pipes leaking and you can end up with damp issues and rotten woodwork. You have the right to enter your property to inspect it and to carry out any work needed as long as you give the tenants 24 hours notice.
The tenancy agreement
This agreement is the contract between you and the people who will be renting your property. It details the rights and both parties and will include details such as the rent, the length of the agreement, an inventory of the items in the property and the condition of the décor. It is usual for there to be a deposit which can be used if a tenant doesn't pay the rent, or if there is any damage which needs repairing after the tenant moves out. The deposit must be placed in the Deposit Protection Scheme which ensures this money is used fairly and returned in full in a timely manner when the tenant leaves the property, if applicable.
Make sure adequate insurance cover - one which is specifically for landlords - is taken out. Property is an expensive asset and needs proper protection. Another tip is to keep all certificates, receipts and correspondence regarding this property, because you never know when you may need it. Consider employing an agency to let the place for you - they make sure financial checks are performed on a would-be renter and provide an intermediary between landlord and renter, which is a handy service to have available. An agency will charge you a monthly fee, but if things go wrong, this fee will be worth every penny.