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The Landlord Law Blog Monster List of 42 Top Tips for Landlords

Monster ListI decided it was about time I did a monster list of tips, so here it is. Enjoy!

Before you rent:

1. Learn all you can about renting property and your legal obligations

2. Check that you have the right to rent – for example:

3. Check your mortgage – note also that sometimes mortgage deeds prohibit certain types of tenant

4. Check you have planning permission – for example if there has been a change of use or if you are going to be renting an HMO

5. See if you need to get permission from your freeholder (if you are renting a long lease flat)

6. Make sure that you have complied with any license requirements (particularly if you are renting an HMO)

NB HMOs are not really covered in this list.  See our special HMO Basics series for HMO guidance.

7. Get the property in tip top condition and make sure that there are no disrepair or heath and safety issues

8. Get your Energy Performance Certificate done – tip : do this AFTER you have done work on the property so your energy rating will be as high as possible

9. Decide whether you are going to manage the property yourself or use an agent  (This list will be on the basis that you are doing it yourself, but for help on deciding click here)

10. Decide whether you are going to take a tenancy deposit or not and if so, which scheme you are going to use. Make sure you join the scheme in advance

11. Decide whether you are going to allow pets or not – see the article here for the options. Remember that many people have pets and often pet owners will make excellent tenants

MonsterLooking for tenants

12. Consider using a letting agent just for finding your tenant – the better agents will often be able to find you a better quality tenant

13. Take care in setting your rent. Even though we are in a bit of a sellers market just now, its best not to over price. This could lead to tenants falling into rent arrears later.

14. Be careful to describe your property accurately in adverts – otherwise you may be in trouble with trading standards

15. Don’t allow people to take the keys away to do viewings on their own if you don’t know them. They may copy the keys and then use them for criminal purposes. Always accompany people on visits.

MonsterChecking out tenants

16. Always get them to complete a detailed tenant information form and check their identity (in due course you will also have to verify their immigration status)

17. Make sure you reference ALL tenants AND do a credit check. Even if you think they seem all right – remember that con men are very persuasive. Thats their job

18. Double check all information – assume it is a lie (for the purpose of the vetting exercise) until you have independently verified it elsewhere.

19. Consider talking to referees on the phone – you may learn a lot from their tone of voice and what they don’t say

20. Be suspicious of people wanting to pay the rent in full in advance (especially if its in cash). They may want to convert your property to a cannabis farm

MonsterChoosing tenants

NEVER let to people who:

21. Say that they are desperate for immediate accommodation and try to persuade / bully you into letting them in before proper checks are done, or

22. Won’t complete your application form in full, or

23. You feel uneasy about (you may be right)

Be wary about letting to people who:

24. Appear to move frequently for their job – how long will they be staying in YOUR property?

25. Have an antagonistic or hostile manner – remember you may be dealing with them for a long time. Better to choose someone pleasant and reasonable (so long as their references check out)

26. Are not able to prove to your satisfaction how they will be able to pay your rent – unless maybe they are able to provide a satisfactory guarantee (even so better to take someone who can really afford it)

MonsterPaperwork at the time of letting

27 You will need to get them to sign

  • The tenancy agreement
  • A standing order form for their rent (if you want them to pay by standing order)
  • The Prescribed Information (to prove that they have had it)
  • A letter of authority to the Housing Benefit Office (if they are on benefit)
  • The inventory form – after you or your inventory clerk have checked the property with them
  • A form confirming meter readings at the time of letting

28. You will need to give them

  • The gas safety certificate (if there are gas appliances)
  • The Energy Performance Certificate if you have not done so already
  • The tenancy deposit prescribed information (keep a copy signed by them as above)
  • Copies of manuals for appliances etc at the property
  • Their copy of the tenancy agreement and the inventory

29. Don’t hand the keys over until all this has been done. Once they are in, they can turn round and refuse to cooperate with anything.

MonsterAfter they have gone into the property

30. Arrange to protect the deposit within 30 days and serve the prescribed information, if this has not already been done

31. Consider serving a s21 notice if you are going to want the property back at the end of the fixed term – check out our free notice here

32. Whenever you serve a document (such as in the previous two tips) make sure you keep a record of the date and method of service and make sure you can prove service if necessary.  If possible get the tenant to sign and date a copy of the document served on them.

33. Do regular inspections – normally quarterly is best but not always – for example you should doing them more frequently for HMO properties

34. Do the gas safety inspection regularly every 12 months

35. Monitor the rent payments and make sure it is being paid on time.

36. If the tenant falls into arrears, follow this up promptly and consider taking action if the arrears are not brought up to date. See the free guide here

MonsterAt the end of the fixed term

37. Decide whether you are going to let the property continue as a periodic or give them a new fixed term. You decision will depend on circumstances – for example:

38. If you want to increase the rent – a new tenancy agreement or renewal form is best for this – as they will not then be able to challenge the rent as they can (for example) with the statutory rent increase notice procedure.

39. If you want to give problematic tenants ‘one last chance’, a periodic tenancy is better as you will be able to evict them quicker if they continue to misbehave

NB – if you need to evict >> click here now

MonsterWhen the tenants leave

40. Make sure you or your inventory clerk carry out a careful check with the tenants present. If they are not present don’t do it yourself without someone independent with you to verify your findings.

41. Arrange for the release of their deposit if appropriate – or negotiate wtih them regarding retention for damage.

42. Check the property over VERY carefully before re-letting – if there are any issues (eg live wires where the outgoing tenants have ripped out unauthorised electrical fittings) YOU will be held responsible if your next tenants are injured.

— // —

Rent Arrears

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Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.

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3 Responses to The Landlord Law Blog Monster List of 42 Top Tips for Landlords

  1. Great list Tessa

    In choosing tenants section I would make reference to the tenants needing to satisfy the Right to Rent requirement under the Immigration Act. Many self managing landlords and probably a lot of agents are going to get this wrong (or not get it right!!)

    In 31 on s21 I would amend it to add ” but only after ALL TDP requirements have been completed”

  2. In ‘You will need to get them to sign’ section
    I always get them to sign for the number of keys they have received. Small keys for window locks invariably get lost and tenants usually insist they never received a key.

  3. Christel

    Laying keys any code numbers etc side down on glass of copier and taking copy, then wring under what each key does, then attaching as page of inventory is always a good move. In my experience you are correct about small keys, normally patio doors!!



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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