Landlords! Seventy three tips to help you manage your properties properly

January 2, 2022

TipsIt’s the start of a New Year – 2022.  Here is a collection of tips to help you (if you are a landlord) on your way.  Click the various links to find out more.

Why seventy-three?  It was going to be seventy but then I thought of three more …

Here are the tips:

  1. When buying a leasehold property to rent to tenants – check your lease. Many prohibit subletting or require you to get permission from the freeholder.
  2. If your property is in Wales, don’t forget to register with Rent Smart Wales
  3. Before you rent out your property, get an EPC check done (you need to give a copy to tenants) and see what you need to do to bring your property up to an Energy Rating C – which is going to be mandatory probably within 10 years. Draw up a plan for how you can achieve this.
  4. When advertising your property make sure you do not misrepresent it – as this can get you into trouble later
  5. Remember that it is illegal to have ‘no DSS’ policies as this could make you vulnerable to a claim for compensation
  6. Be wary about renting your property to someone who intends to sublet to tenants and pay you a ‘guaranteed income’ (ie under a ‘rent to rent’ arrangement). Remember if a deal sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
  7. Don’t forget to sign up for Property Alerts for your property at the Land Registry – this will protect you from criminals trying to take it over.
  8. Be very, very careful when choosing tenants and don’t just take the first person who comes along. They may turn out to be a nightmare tenant.
  9. Take details from applicants in a form and adapt this form to the questions asked by your credit reference company (as explained here)
  10. Always assume, for the purpose of checking applicants information, that they have lied to you and double-check all details. For example, their employer’s phone number – is it correct or is it the number of their friend primed to give a good reference?
  11. Check phone numbers via google search
  12. Be very suspicious if someone wants to pay large sums upfront in cash. Particularly if they ask you not to do inspections. This is a classic sign of someone who intends to use your property for criminal purposes.
  13. Be on the watch for scams generally
  14. Always ask for three months worth of bank statements as part of your checking procedure
  15. Never EVER accept anyone who tells you that they are ‘desperate’ for accommodation and want you to let them in without checking. These invariably turn out to be nightmare tenants
  16. Read the tenancy agreement you use carefully. Can you understand it? Does it include everything you need? If not consider using a new one (the Landlord Law Tenancy Agreement might be a good choice)
  17. Always use a tenancy agreement that is drafted in Plain English. So both you and the tenant can understand easily what it says
  18. Make sure you use the correct tenancy agreement for your tenancy type and how you want to let the property
  19. Be aware that tenancy agreements can be misleading as some clauses may not be enforceable or they may not tell the whole story.  Try to avoid this as much as possible in YOUR tenancy agreement
  20. If you have lived at the property previously or intend to live in it later (eg if it will be your retirement home) make sure you serve a ground 1 notice
  21. If you require your tenant to have a guarantor don’t forget to check the guarantor as carefully as the tenant
  22. If you know you will not be allowing pets – don’t amend your tenancy agreement pets clause to remove the tenants right to ask for permission. You will almost certainly invalidate the clause by doing this.
  23. If you do agree to allow pets, make sure your tenancy agreement is amended to include suitable clauses to protect you
  24. Note that (at the time of writing) the law has not been changed to force landlords to allow tenants to keep a pet
  25. There is a lot of paperwork you are required to give tenants at the start of the tenancy. Always get them to sign a receipt so you can prove later that they were given it.
  26. Don’t forget to take detailed meter readings before they go in.
  27. If you take a deposit, don’t forget to protect it properly and serve the prescribed information.
  28. Make sure you do not take more than the amount allowed for deposits
  29. If you are offering an ‘alternative’ deposit scheme, make sure you check the company out properly first – will they be in a position to pay you if the tenant trashes the property and then scarpers?
  30. Make sure your tenants have copy manuals for all appliances in the property – keep the original versions so you can copy them if they lose their copy
  31. If you are not sure whether to use a letting agent to manage your property or not – follow this free guide.
  32. Be careful when choosing a letting agent, if you decide to use one, as it can be problematic if you make a bad choice
  33. Consider using an open banking system such as Hammock so you are properly informed and notified if tenants fall into arrears
  34. If you are renting to sharers, check to see if this will make your property an HMO
  35. Make sure you have a proper landlords insurance policy (ordinary domestic insurance won’t do).
  36. If the electrical appliances in your rented property are not new, consider getting Portable Appliance Tests (PAT) done.
  37. Make sure you have a proper detailed inventory – if you are self-managing it is best to use a professional inventory company
  38. Make sure the inventory records that the property is clean (assuming it is)
  39. Set up a system for keeping records – and use it!
  40. Be aware of Data Protection and make sure you give applicants and tenants a Data Information Notice
  41. Remember that renting to a limited company is different from renting to an individual
  42. Don’t forget that you will need to carry out a ‘right to rent’ check on ALL occupiers – including those not on the tenancy agreement
  43. Don’t hand over the keys until all the named tenants have signed the tenancy agreement
  44. If they ask to have a lodger be very careful and check your mortgage and insurance policy
  45. Always keep a spare set of keys – if tenants object tell them this is so they can be easily copied if they lose their keys
  46. If possible always have a ‘hand over’ meeting with new tenants when you can explain how things work in the property
  47. Ideally, you should also go over the tenancy agreement with them at this meeting and explain it to them so they know what their tenant’s obligations are
  48. You should also check the smoke alarms at this meeting and get the tenants to sign to confirm that they have been checked
  49. Try to arrange your first inspection visit for a month after the start of the tenancy (so you can check that they have settled in and are happy at the property)
  50. If you have promised to do remedial works to the property, try to get these done and finished during the first month
  51. Carry out regular inspection visits during the tenancy – ideally every 3 months and not less than once every six months – if you don’t this could invalidate your insurance
  52. Apart from inspection visits – leave the tenants alone in the property, although
  53. If they call you about an issue with the property, make sure you respond promptly
  54. Check your bank account regularly to make sure that rent is being paid promptly.
  55. If payments are missed make sure you contact tenants about this. The best time to deal with rent arrears is when your tenants first stop paying
  56. Be aware that there are many grant funds available that may be able to help your tenants with their rent arrears
  57. If one of your joint tenants wants to move out early make sure you deal with this properly.
  58. If you agree (and you don’t have to), this will need a new tenancy agreement and will (perhaps) put you to the cost of finding a new tenant.
  59. If tenants want to end their tenancy early remember that you do not have to agree to this, but it may be best if they have a genuine reason.
  60. Be careful about allowing tenants to find their own replacements without reference to you (what I call disorganised comings and goings) – this can cause big problems as regards deposits and eviction.
  61. If your sole tenant dies, remember that this of itself will not end the tenancy
  62. Do a review of your tenancy during the last two months of the fixed term, so you can serve a section 21 notice if you decide you do not wish to continue the tenancy
  63. If you are in a dispute with your tenants, consider trying to resolve this by mediation rather than just issuing eviction proceedings
  64. If your tenants are to stay and you are happy with your tenancy agreement you can just give them a shorter renewal form rather than a completely new tenancy agreement
  65. However, if any of the parties have changed (ie if there are new joint tenants or if you have taken over the tenancy as landlord) you will need to give a new tenancy agreement
  66. Assuming there have been no changes, you don’t HAVE to give a new tenancy agreement or renewal form – if the tenants remain, a periodic tenancy will be created automatically. There is nothing wrong with this.
  67. Be aware that if you ask the tenants to leave and they refuse to vacate voluntarily, you can only get vacant possession through the courts
  68. If your tenant does not have an assured shorthold tenancy, note that the correct notice to serve is a Notice to Quit
  69. If your tenants tell you that they are looking to be rehoused by their Local Authority note that you will normally need to get a court order for possession before they will be rehoused
  70. If you need to issue proceedings for possession, be awaare it can be tricky and mistakes can cause long delays – check out our free guide here before doing anything
  71. When your tenants vacate, make sure you get a forwarding address for them
  72. Get them to put in place a postal forwarding arrangement for their post – you do not want to act as an unpaid post forwarder!
  73. Never arrange for new tenants to move in within hours of the old tenants moving out – you need to check the property, as YOU will be held liable to the new tenants, for example for any damage caused to your new tenants by the old tenants’ unauthorised alterations.

And finally

Landlords! Seventy three tips to help you manage your properties properly in 2022 from #landlordlaw

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