August 20, 2019
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How to prepare your property for new tenants
If you’re a first-time landlord, or you’re getting ready to welcome a new set of tenants into your existing let, there are certain things you need do before the new tenants move in.
 
Not only does the property need to be habitable, safe and secure, you also need to make sure you have the right landlord insurance in place to protect not only the building itself but also any accidental damage or loss of rent that might occur during the course of the tenancy.
 
As Rightmove points out, there are now around 150 laws that relate to renting out a property, so it’s good practice to keep up to date with new regulations and legislation as much as you can.
 
If you’re renting out multiple properties, you may wish to employ a letting agent who can take care of many of the key responsibilities for you. But if you’re running the property on your own, here are a few of the main things you need to be aware of.
 

Before you start renting

As the Gov.uk website states, from 1st June 2019 the rules around tenant fees changed. There is now a very strict list of things that landlords and letting agents can and cannot charge for, which fall under the Tenant Fees Act 2019. 
 
The types of payments that are still allowed include holding deposits of one week’s rent, payments associated with changing a tenancy agreement, and costs associated with replacing lost keys. You can find a full list of permitted payments here.
 
The Immigration Act also requires landlords to make sure that their tenants have the right to live in the UK. You should ask to see a copy of their ID within 28 days of the start of the tenancy and carry out annual, ongoing checks as required.
 
Landlords also have a responsibility to protect their tenant’s deposits by placing the money in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. There are three places where you can register deposits – Deposit Protection Service; MyDeposits; or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
 
 

When you’re ready to rent

As a landlord, the safety of your tenants should be your top priority. Therefore it’s essential that you organise the necessary safety checks before the new tenants move in:
 

• Electrical and gas safety

 
Get all appliances like cookers, kettles and boilers checked by a professional, registered competent person and give your tenants a copy of any inspection certificates so they know everything is safe and in good working order. The Government suggests that electrical installations and fixed appliances are checked every five years as a minimum.
 

• Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

 
Since October 2015, legislation has required that all rented residential houses, flats and HMOs be fitted with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Smoke alarms should be put on every story of a property where a room is used as living accommodation, and carbon monoxide alarms should feature in every room with a solid fuel-burning appliance, according to the RLA. If you fail to provide these alarms, you could be fined up to £5,000 in England; fines differ in other parts of the UK.
 
It’s your responsibility as the landlord to check that any smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms are in good working order on the day the new tenants move in. Don’t leave these checks to the last minute ­­– they could help to save someone’s life.
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• Furniture and water

 
If you’re renting the property as fully or part-furnished, you need to make sure any furniture has the required fireproofing and labeling. You also need to carry out a risk assessment to determine the risk of Legionella at the property. The HSE’s website has more information on how to do this.
 

• EPC

 
All landlords must provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to new tenants. Since April 2018, the minimum EPC rating allowed in privately rented properties has been E, except where a property qualifies for an exemption.
 

What to do on moving in day

If you’re employing a letting agent to manage the property on your behalf, they may well carry out some or all of these tasks on the day your new tenants move in. But if you’re working alone, Your Move suggest that you should:
 
Give the new tenants a copy of the meter readings on that day
• Conduct the inventory together and sign to say you both agree
• Show them how to use appliances, alarms, locks and safety equipment
• Give them written instructions on what to do in an emergency
• Hand over the keys, making sure each tenant has a set

 
Since 1st October 2015, all landlords have been required to give their tenants a copy of the Government’s How to Rent booklet. Intended for anyone about to rent a house or flat on an assured shorthold tenancy, you can download a copy for your tenants from the Government’s website.
 

Do you have to change the locks?

While you’re not under any legal obligation to change the locks on your property before a new tenant moves in, you do have a responsibility as landlord to make sure the property is secure. Past tenants may have got multiple sets of keys made for their family and friends, so if you’re in any doubt, it’s best to get a fresh set of locks installed if you can afford it.
 

Protecting your investment with landlord insurance

While tenants should take care of their own contents insurance for any personal possessions they bring to the property, landlords are expected to have adequate buildings insurance in place.
 
Here at Insurance Choice, we’ve got over 20 years of experience tailoring landlord insurance to meet your specific requirements. So, whether you’re an individual landlord with one property to rent out, or a business looking to cover your entire portfolio, Insurance Choice can help find the right level of cover for you, for our best price.
 
Why not get a quick quote today and make sure your investment is properly protected?
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