This is the first article in a series on letting a property. Featuring tips, advice and need to know information for anyone thinking of becoming a landlord. If you want to let your property, but aren’t sure where to begin, this series will help educate and advise you so that you are fully prepared to let your property successfully.
Today, we will be looking at starting out as a landlord and the steps you need to take before you can begin to market your property.
Renting in the UK is on the rise. With the cost of housing growing further and further out of reach for much of the population, renting is the best option available to them. If you are one of the lucky people who own their own home, or even several properties, congratulations! If you are planning on letting your spare property, then read on for some expert, tailored advice from one of the leading estate and lettings agents in Swindon.
Finding a Reliable Letting Agent
Your lettings agent will be your guide through the process of letting your property, offering invaluable advice plus years of knowledge and experience regarding the local area and attracting suitable potential tenants. At Castles, we have been working in and across Swindon for many years. Our lettings team are experts in helping landlords navigate legal requirements, effectively market and successfully manage their properties. To speak to a member of our lettings team, contact us on 01793422833 or fill out our online contact form and someone will be in touch.
Preparing Your Property to Let
When preparing your property to let, there are many factors to consider to ensure you meet legal standards and requirements. A reputable lettings agent will be able to guide and support you through this process with their knowledge of property letting and everything that needs to be done before a property can be marketed to potential tenants. Below, we will go through the main considerations before letting out a property.
Firstly, if you are planning on letting your property you must ensure that you are permitted to do so. Some landlords will have a buy-to-let mortgage, but if you do not have one of these, you will need to notify your mortgage provider and gain permission to let the property. If you own a leasehold property, you must inform the freeholder.
Houses in Multiple Occupation License Provisions
If you are planning on letting out an entire property to three or more paying tenants, forming more than one household, you will be subject to mandatory Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing and will be required to apply to your local authority for a licence. At Castles, we have a good working relationship with Swindon Borough Council and our lettings agents can support you in making an application for a HMO licence.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
If you are planning on letting your property to private individuals and the rent will amount to less than £100k per year, it will automatically become an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). An AST typically lasts between six and 12 months, but a different, longer fixed term may be agreed with tenants in advance if you wish. When the fixed term has expired, you will be able to regain possession of the property from the tenants, provided you have given at least two months written advance notice to the tenants.
Tenancy Deposit Protection
As a landlord you are required by law to hold your tenant’s deposit in an authorised deposit protection scheme. Such schemes will look after the deposit and can assist with disputes over deposits at the end of the tenancy. This is vital as you can be fined and lose any eviction rights if you do not adhere to this. At Castles, we can ensure you have access to an authorised deposit protection scheme for your tenants’ deposits and our lettings agents can handle this for you.
Housing Health and Safety
When you let a property it must be a safe, non hazardous environment for tenants and must adhere to several pieces of relevant legislation. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is enforced by local authorities and assesses how hazardous a property is. Landlords must comply with the HHSRS measures to maintain a safe environment capable of being let. For information on health and safety legislation, including gas and electrical testing and fire hazards, see our Landlord’s Guide.
A property being let needs an up to date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which potential tenants should be informed of.
Repairs and Maintenance
Before letting your property you should carry out any repairs and maintenance work that needs doing. Not only is this important for the care and longevity of the property, but it will also help you attract suitable tenants who will pay more rent to live in a nicer property. While people looking for short term lets might not care as much about a few minor things, if you are looking to find tenants to rent for more than a couple of years, you really should do everything to make the property as appealing as possible within your budget. This includes aesthetic jobs such as repainting doors, window sills and potentially entire rooms or upgrading old furniture, door handles and curtains. Most of these repairs and touch ups are minor and do not need to cost the earth. If you have older appliances in the property, make sure they work fully and are safe. A property that appears well cared for is more likely to be looked after well by its tenants.
Furnished or Unfurnished?
Think about whether you plan to let your property with or without furniture. Most rental properties will include white goods so you may need to invest in a fridge, freezer and washing machine. If you choose to let your property furnished, the main things you should provide are:
- Beds and mattresses
- Wardrobes and chests of drawers
- Sofa and armchairs
- Soft furnishings
You will need to put together an inventory of items in the property, with photos and details of their condition to be referred back to at the end of the tenancy when returning the tenants’ deposit. This way, if you need to retain some of the deposit to cover the cost of replacements or repairs, you have substantial evidence to back up your claim.
If you decide to let the property unfurnished, you may need to think about putting some items in storage if you cannot sell them or store them yourself.
It is a good idea to get comprehensive landlord insurance to cover the property you are letting. Landlord insurance can cover building insurance, contents cover, loss of rent, property owners’ and public liability and employer liability. Your tenants will be responsible for their own contents cover and you should make this clear. It is important to inform your insurance company what exactly you want your insurance policy to cover.
As a landlord you are self-employed and as such are liable to pay tax on any income received from letting out your property. To find out more visit www.hmrc.gov.uk.
If all the above sounds a bit daunting, do not worry. Our experienced lettings team is here to guide you every step of the way and we are always on hand to offer expert advice. At Castles, we pride ourselves on our great customer service and communication with our landlords. With us you can rest assured that your property is in safe hands and that you will not be met with any unexpected fees as we are always upfront about our costs. For more advice, read our handy Landlord’s Guide or speak to one of our friendly, professional team on 01793422833.