The buy-to-let property has been purchased and your client is ready to welcome their first tenant! To help get them started West One have created a handy guide and checklist which covers everything from Gas Safety checks to Tenant Deposits.
Under The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords are required to make sure all gas appliances and fittings are safe and working.
A landlord is required to undertake an annual gas safety check which must be carried out by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer, who will issue the landlord with a Landlord Gas Safety Record (LGSR) once complete.
A copy of the LGSR will need to be provided to the tenants within 28 days of the gas safety check.
Find out more about the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 here - https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l56.htm
As part of the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, landlords are required to have the electrical installations inspected and tested at least every 5 years.
The electrical safety report must be provided to existing tenants within 28 days and to new tenants before they move into the premises. A prospective tenant is within their rights to request a copy of the report and it should be provided within 28 days of the request being received.
If the report identifies any remedial work is required, then the landlord must complete this work within 28 days. Once the work has been completed the landlord is required to supply confirmation of the work within 28 days of the completion date.
Find out more about Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/guide-for-landlords-electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector
In addition, where landlords supply an electrical appliance, it is best practice to ensure that the appliance is in a safe condition that will not cause harm to tenants.
Landlords are legally required to have a minimum of one smoke alarm installed on every floor of their property and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room within the property that contains a solid fuel-burning appliance.
The landlord is required to ensure that all alarms are in working order at the beginning of every new tenancy.
Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £5,000, which is enforced by a local authority.
Further details on The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/1693/contents/made
Landlords are required, under the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations Act (1988), to ensure that any upholstered furniture on the property is fire resistant.
Failure to do so is a criminal offence and in some cases, a landlord can be sent to prison.
More information can be found here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1988/1324/contents/made
Before any tenant moves into a property a landlord is legally required to check their immigration status. It’s important to remember that it is against the law to only check people you believe are not British Citizens.
For more guidance on the government's right to rent immigration checks, read the landlords’ code of practice here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice
Unlike the other checks we have highlighted so far, tenant referencing isn’t a legal requirement, but rather best practice.
Tenant referencing enables a landlord to find out particular information about a prospective tenant through a number of checks and verifications.
They can either be carried out by the landlord themselves, a letting agent or a professional tenant referencing company.
The checks will look at the tenant’s rental history, their ability to cover their rental payments and any criminal convictions they may have.
As part of any mortgage terms, the property owner is required to have a building insurance policy in place.
However, there is a specific type of building insurance for landlords which will generally cover landlords for a broader range of risks than the standard residential building insurance would do.
Contents insurance will depend on if you are letting out the property as furnished or unfurnished.
If a property is rented out furnished, then it’s a good idea to take out contents insurance for peace of mind that in the event of a flood or a fire costly goods such as upholstered furnishing, free-standing white goods or TVs can be replaced.
Another type of insurance that may be of interest to some landlords, is a rent guarantee. This covers rental income in the event that a tenant is unable to pay rent, usually for 6 to 12 months.
Some policies will also cover any legal expenses incurred during the recovery of rent arrears or during a repossession or eviction process.
Another important job for landlords to undertake before a tenant moves into a property is a full inventory.
The inventory should provide an accurate record of the décor, fixtures and fittings and any furnishings provided. While not a legal requirement it is best practice for a landlord to conduct a thorough inventory.
A copy of the inventory should be provided to a tenant for them to check and sign as they move in and any alterations to the property after the inventory has been agreed upon should be noted and signed by both the landlord and tenant.
If at the end of a tenancy there are any damages to the property or its contents and the tenant is not accepting liability, an inventory is a useful piece of evidence to support the landlord's dispute and successfully claim against the tenant’s deposit.
It is the responsibility of the landlord to make sure that a property is thoroughly cleaned before a new tenant moves in.
The new tenant should not be expected to move into a dirty and messy home. While this isn’t a legal requirement, it is important in setting a precedent for the way in which a tenant leaves a property when they vacate.
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), is an agreement, usually written, between the landlord and tenant(s).
It should set out the responsibilities of the landlord and tenant along with other important information regarding rent payments, the type and duration of the tenancy and the notice period both the tenant and landlord need to provide.
Further information on what to include in a tenancy agreement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-agreements-a-guide-for-landlords
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) tells tenants how energy efficient a property is and provides recommendations on improvements that can be made to a property in order to improve energy efficiency.
Landlords are required to provide tenants with an up-to-date EPC, failure to do so means they are unable to serve tenants with a valid eviction notice (section 21).
Since 1st April 2020 properties have been required to have an EPC rating of E or higher, however, this is set to change from 2025 when all new tenancies will be required to have an EPC of C or higher, with existing tenancies following suit in 2028.
Further guidance on energy efficiency standards for landlords can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-energy-efficiency-standard-landlord-guidance
Landlords are required to provide tenants with the Government ‘How to Rent Guide’, as part of The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015.
The guide details the rights and responsibilities of the tenant and the legal obligation of the landlord.
It is important that landlords ensure that a tenant receives a copy of the ‘How to Rent Guide'. Failure to do will mean a landlord is unable to issue a Section 21 to repossess the property.
The ‘How to Rent Guide’ can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent
When a landlord takes a deposit for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement, they are required to place the deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme.
There are a number of Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) to choose from and the landlord is required to let the tenant know which scheme they have used within 30 days of receipt of the deposit.
Failure to do so could impact the ease at which a landlord can evict a tenant under section 21 of the Housing Act.
A benefit of TDP schemes for landlords is that they offer free, independent adjudication at the end of a tenancy, which can be incredibly useful when there are disputes over deductions.
More information on the Government TDP schemes can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/deposit-protection-schemes-and-landlords
West One has created a useful checklist which can be downloaded and used by landlords when preparing a property for rent. Click here to download.