Starting your tenancy
Now that you’ve bought your property, and your financial plan, mortgage and insurances are all in place, you want to start earning some rent. How should you find a tenant and start your tenancy? Here are some key pointers and, of course, the NLA has extensive resources to help you on this journey.
Last updated: 4th October 2019
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What you need to know:
An introduction to new tenancy
Firstly, you need to decide whether you’re going to manage the property yourself or use an agent. Don’t underestimate the time and commitment it takes to do it yourself, even though you will save money this way. Advertising, viewings, credit checks and references, inventories, tenancy agreements, health and safety checks, being there to check in the new tenants, repairs, rent collection – these are some of the areas a landlord deals with.
About a third of landlords use an agent and if you go this way, we suggest choosing a local, recommended agent who is a member of both a complaints process and an agent association, and who has client money protection. Get details of their fees before you commit. Look at their websites, shopfronts, ads in local papers. If you decide to manage it yourself, here are some of your main tasks.
Finding a tenant
What to look for in a tenant
If you’re near a university, students could be your market. You may want to work with your Local Authority to offer accommodation to people on Universal Credit. Good local schools mean families will be interested, while professionals may opt for city centre homes or those near reliable transport. References are invaluable and in England you are legally required to check a tenant has the right to rent in the UK under immigration laws. The NLA offers a Basic Tenant Check and a Full Tenant Check. This confirms employment status, references from current landlord, ID, as well as any insolvency data.
Marketing your property
To find the perfect tenant you need to market your property, using a combination of words and pictures. Take fantastic photographs which highlight the best features of the property – does it have a garden, a balcony, a huge living room? Let a prospective tenant know how close transport, schools, doctors and shops are. Most people start looking on the internet so advertise on lots of local and national websites. Consider print advertising if there is a local paper and use your own contacts on social media.
Preparing your property
First impressions really count. Weed the garden, paint the front door and windows, put the bins away. Inside, make sure everything is really clean and tidy with all minor repairs sorted – a dripping tap or a sink full of dishes can put off an ideal tenant. Also ensure all gas, electricity and other safety standards are in place so you can show certificates and fire equipment at every viewing. At all times, look professional, be professional and be friendly!
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Getting started with a new tenancy
What to expect
Once you’ve chosen your new tenant or tenants, there’s quite a lot of administration to complete. You need to check their references, both from their previous landlord and their employer and/or bank. The NLA offers a Basic Tenant Check and a Full Tenant Check. By law in England you must confirm they have UK Right to Rent. Your tenant will expect to see documents verifying electrical, gas and fire safety checks and you must ensure the appropriate insurance is in place.
Within your tenancy agreement, you need to confirm the amount and date of rent payment. You should agree the payment of services and reading of meters, with the appropriate companies notified of the new tenant’s details. You must co-sign the inventory and supply instructions for any appliances. If you’re taking a deposit, you should provide deposit protection compliance documentation.
What to avoid
Clear and straightforward communication is crucial, right from the start. Your tenant or tenants will have been with a different landlord and the house rules need to be established before the move-in date. Don’t leave anything hanging in the air – if they ask whether they can bring a pet, respond clearly; don’t leave repairs to be sorted out after they have moved in; never enter the property without their permission, giving them at least a day’s notice (unless it’s an emergency); deal with repairs promptly, and alert them to workmen visiting for maintenance or repairs. Ask the tenants how they would like to be contacted – email first and telephone second is a good standard. Above all, make your tenants feel that your property is their home and that you respect them and their privacy.
What must I provide my new tenant?
Fixtures and fittings
Are you letting your property furnished or unfurnished? If you’re letting to students, for example, they will need a furnished property, with beds, new mattresses, wardrobes, desks, chairs, furniture in the living room and kitchen. They will need electrical items such as a fridge-freezer and washing-machine. However, if you’re letting to a family or to older tenants, they may want to bring their own furniture. You should decide this, and fit out the property as necessary, before you market the property.
The property should be spotlessly clean and in good decorative order with no outstanding repairs. All equipment should be working and little things like lampshades and bulbs for all the lights will be appreciated.
This is a list of the most important documents you should give a new tenant when you meet them to hand over the keys. The NLA can provide a list of recognised suppliers to help you.
- A comprehensive tenancy agreement, so both you as landlord and your new tenants know about expectations and legal obligations
- Gas safety certificates
- Electricity safety certificates
- How to Rent Guide (in England only)
- A copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (if required)
- Deposit protection details
You might also prepare a list of useful local contacts – everything from the nearest GP and hospital to local plumbers, restaurants, gyms, community activities and anything else which might be helpful to your tenant. Again, this will make them feel welcome and valued.
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