Thursday 2 July 2020

The basics of letting a property

There are over 150 pieces of legislation that landlords and letting agents need to be aware of when they let out a property. Below are the basic things I always check first when visiting a prospective landlord at their potential rental property.

Is it leasehold?
If so, you’ll need to check there are no covenants that stop you letting out the property to a certain type of tenant or, in extreme cases, preventing you from letting it at all! You may also find the freeholder and/or management company needs to be alerted to the fact the property is to be rented (and to who).

Is there a mortgage? 
If you have a buy-to-let mortgage, or no mortgage at all, then you’re all set. But if the property is currently your home and you have a residential mortgage you’ll need to apply to your lender for ‘consent to let’ and/or switch to a buy-to-let mortgage.

Is it insured?
Specialist landlord insurance for the property will cover the building, your contents (including fixtures & fittings) as well as providing you with legal indemnity cover.

Furnished or unfurnished?
Most rental properties are let unfurnished, but if you plan to supply any furniture it needs to comply with fire safety regulations (look out for the manufacturer’s label).

 Is there an EPC?
An in-date EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) with at least an E rating is required prior to letting (some exemptions apply). They are valid for 10 years and there’s a register online that you can check before you order a new one.

Are smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in place?
There needs to be a smoke alarm on each floor of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid-fuel burning device e.g. an open fire.

Are the electrics up to scratch?
All new tenancies require an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) to be undertaken by a qualified contractor to ensure the electrics are safe and in a good condition. These are then valid for five years (unless the electrician says they need to be checked sooner).

Got gas?
Any gas appliances i.e. gas boiler / hob / fire needs to be checked by a Gas Safe engineer on an annual basis to check things are safe, with the certificate being provided to the tenants when they move in.

These are the bare minimum legal requirements you must comply with before letting a property. There are many more points to consider though, such as the condition and desirability of the property, its likely target market and rental valuation compared to what else is available at the time. If you have a property that you’re thinking of letting and would like some advice or guidance, please get in touch.

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