When you are renting your property in the UK for the first time, there are many things that you might miss. With so many different articles and blogs on the internet that tell you what to do and what to avoid, you might become a little overwhelmed with all the plethora of information that comes your way, and would not know what to sift. While your trusty online estate agent would guide you through the renting process, you are the one with the responsibility of a landlord, and you would need to make sure that you follow through all your responsibilities while maintaining a healthy relationship with your tenant by avoiding some of the common pet peeves. If you are unaware of what these are, buckle up and read on!
The Do’s of Being a Landlord
Being a landlord, you get the opportunity of generating revenue every month with the rent, but that bright prospect brings many responsibilities with it. If you think about renting your property as a business (which it is), you need to think about the ways that can help your customer, i.e., your tenant, be happy with you. Here are the things that you should be taking care of while tenants live under your roof:
1. Make Sure that your House is Safe for the Tenants
Make sure that your house provides the residents adequate safety from fire, gas and electrical hazards. The furnishings in your house should follow the requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations. If you are installing any alternate heating devices, make sure that they are installed at a safe distance from furnishings like curtains and any other combustible furniture items. Moreover, the rug underneath the heating device should be fire-safe.
Have a regular check up of the gas and electrical appliances to make sure that there are no damages that would pose a threat to the safety of the tenants. It is recommended that you have a professional take a look at the gas appliances and fittings, as an untrained eye would not be able to detect the small leaks or problems that can turn into huge problems later on. Have gas checks in your home on a yearly basis, and if any damages occur in the meantime, make necessary repairs.
The electrical appliances can cause a number of hazards to the residents, and you need to ensure that the wiring is safe, and not damaged or frayed anywhere. If possible, install a residual-current device (RCD), which is a device that disconnects the current supply in the case of any damage. This way, the residents would be protected from serious harm even if the wiring is frayed.
2. Install and Test the Fire and Smoke Alarms
As per the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, the landlords are required to install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of the house that is being rented, and at least one carbon monoxide alarm in every room in which solid fuel is used.
As a landlord, you have the responsibility to install these alarms in a place that would be most convenient for the tenants. For instance, placing the fire alarm inside the kitchen would mean that each time anyone tries cooking, the alarm would start buzzing. This would create annoyance, and the tenants might remove the battery of the alarm just to avoid the bother, and as a result, if and when there is a serious case of fire hazard, the tenants would not know about it. Therefore, it is important that the fire alarm is installed outside the kitchen so that it does not start buzzing when there is no hazard at all.
3. Don’t be Cheap When it Comes to Repairs
As a landlord, you are responsible for most of the repairs, which includes damages to the structure or the exterior of the house. So, while the tenants live under the roof of your home, if there is any damage like problems in the drainage, gutters, chimney or roof, it is up t you to make sure that everything is running smoothly again.
Many landlords think that they can fix the repairs in a jiffy, thanks to their prowess in DIY projects, but what they may fail to notice is that not all repairs can be done without the help of a professional. Especially when it comes to plumbing and drainage issues, you need a professional to handle these tasks efficiently. If you think that repairing these damages on your own would save you money—think again! An inefficient repair work would only repel the problem for a little while, while it would fester and return with more serious consequences. So, don’t be cheap and hire a professional to handle repairs.
4. Landlords Should make Sure that all the Required Paperwork is Done before they Rent their Property
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): An EPC needs to be provided to the tenant as soon as possible. It includes the energy rating of your house, and the recommendations for using energy efficiently. If you do not provide the EPC to your tenant, you can be charged a fine between £500 and £5000, depending on the value of your property.
- Deposit protection: As a landlord of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, (AST), it is your responsibility to protect the deposit of the tenant within 30 days. If you fail to do so, you will be liable to a fine up to three times the amount of the deposit. You are also required to provide the Prescribed Information to the tenants, which include the details about the deposit protection scheme.
- ‘Right to Rent’ check: This is an important check that you need to make before renting your property in the UK. If you fail to do so, you can be held liable for a penalty up to £3,000, or even imprisonment. The government has provided a handy user guide for the landlords to provide them information about the rules of the checks and samples of documents which are acceptable.
- ‘How to Rent’ guide: The government guide of ‘How to Rent’ includes the responsibilities of the landlord and the rights of the tenant. As a landlord, you need to provide a copy of this guide to the tenant before they move into your home.
5. Make an Inventory With the Tenant Before the Tenant Moves In
Before your tenant moves in your home, have an inventory of the contents in the property beforehand. This would ensure that there are no disputes later on, and you can enjoy a healthy relationship with your tenants. Invite the tenant for the inventory and have a detailed documentation including pictures so that there would be photographic evidence of the original condition of the house. This way, both parties can rest knowing that there is a documented record of the inventory.
The Don’ts of Being a Landlord
While the do’s of being a landlord may seem easy as you may have prior knowledge about it, the don’ts may come to be as a bit tricky. These tips have been collected by our experts, who have taken into account the stories of the worst landlords, and figured out what they had been doing wrong, consciously or unconsciously. To make sure that you don’t make the same mistake while renting your house and be labelled as a terrible landlord, avoid these actions and activities:
1. Dropping by for an Inspection Unannounced
Yes, the house that you are renting is your property. Yes, you have a right to inspect the property whenever you wish, and if you think that there is any damage done to the property.
No, you cannot show up on the doorstep unannounced.
Why? Because it’s rude and unprofessional.
Nothing can irritate a tenant more than theaction of the landlord deciding to be overbearing.
If you need to come over for an inspection, send them a notice or call them beforehand, letting them know the date when you will be visiting.Showing them this simple courtesy will go a long way in the tenant appreciating you as a landlord.
2. Renting Home to Family and Friends
One of the biggest and the trickiest problems that the new landlords face is when family and friends ask to rent your house.Although it may seem like an innocent decision at the time, helping them stay in your home for a charge, but we advise you not to do so.
Let us illustrate the problem with an example.
Let’s say you allow a friend of yours to rent your home. They come over, and everything seems spiffy for some time. Then they come over to you and say, “Hey buddy, I’d be late for the rent this month. You know this happened [insert excuse].” Being a friend, you give them a little slack. Little do you know that you have now opened the Pandora’s Box. One month the rent would be late, again the next month, and then theremay be issues starting with damaged property and whatnot.
The problem here is that this is a lose-lose situation. Either you would be a terrible landlord (not caring about rent or the condition of your property), or you would be jeopardizing your relationship with your friend. Most people choose the former option, and continue losing revenue and hair over the stress that comes with that option.
So, do yourself a favour and make it a policy never to rent your home to family or friends.
3. Not Charging a Late Fee
When renting your home, you should make a policy to always charge a late fee. Like the previous point, this may seem a bit harsh, but rest assured, this is for your sanity. Badgering your tenants to pay the rent would be stressful for you, and annoying for them. It is time that you take the stress out of the equation. Simply charge a late fee according to the number of days that the rent is late.
Charging a late fee would do wonders for you, the most important thing being that it would automatically bump “paying rent” on the top of your tenant’s priority list. It would be a strong incentive for the tenant to pay rent on time. The best part, you don’t even have to say anything! If you get the rent on time, good for you! If you don’t get it on time, you’ll get a late fee with it—something to ease the stress that you would’ve taken in these days.
Important note: Do NOT bring up this policy if it has not been agreed upon in the tenancy agreement. Make sure that the tenant agrees with the policy and is on board with it so that you don’t have to face any issues later on.
4. Fixing all the Repairs Yourself
You may be a great DIY expert, but that does not mean that you should respond to your tenant’s call for repairs by taking your bag of tools at the place. While some repairs can be fixed with no trouble, not all repairs are that easy to fix.
In situations where you have little or no experience in making repairs, hire a professional. It may cost you some money, but it will still be better than you embarrassing yourself in front of your tenants with a botched-up job and having to call a professional after all. Yeah, stay away from that.
5. Not Having a Policy in Place
People renting their home for the first time face this problem the most: they figure out that some things should have been set as rules and decide to put the rule in place after the tenant has moved in. This, naturally, gives rise to many issues with the tenant and the tenant may start to behave badly because you were veering from the agreement.
The best way to make sure that everything works like it should is to make a policy and add it to the tenancy agreement. This way, the rules would be transparent to the tenant and if they ever question why something is not allowed, you can refer to the agreed-upon policy.
If you are looking forward to rent your property through a reliable and trusty online estate agent, then browse through the amazing renting packages of iMoveEstates. If you have any queries relating to your legal responsibilities as a landlord, you can contact the experts today!