Preparing the property ready to let.
Let's start with the statutory legal things you must do.
If you have not contacted us by now you really need to make this a priority. We will give you the right information about the choices ahead of you.
As a professional Letting Agent, we provide sound advice on what you need to do before the property can be advertised and, just as importantly, advise you on what you do not need to spend money on. As an example - a fully fitted modern kitchen will be an attraction to any potential tenant but bear in mind that if you supply all built in appliances unless specifically excluded within the tenancy agreement, you would be expected to take responsibility for the repair, maintenance and replacement.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (Section 11) clearly states that there is no responsibility for a Landlord to supply, repair or replace appliances but would you really expect a tenant to replace a built in fridge when they may not be living there in a few months time (for whatever reason). Would you want your tenant to be fixing your built in dishwasher or washer-drier themselves because they don't want to pay £30 or £40 for a qualified appliance engineer to come out? A tired kitchen can be refurbished to a standard to attract good quality tenants without having to invest in such items that tend to break down quite often - just leave the required spaces for tenants to provide their own.
There are a number of essential things required by law before you can let a property.
An EPC Certificate.
This must be commissioned prior to advertising and obtained with 7 days of the property being placed on the market. It provides potential tenants with information on the likely cost of heating and lighting in the property and is probably going to play a much more important role in tenant choices as the cost of gas and electricity continue to rise. It is likely to cost around £60 and will last for 10 years. More information on this is available from the Government web site. You need to make sure that the property you are about to rent out has an EPC rating above F or G as there will be severe restrictions on renting or selling these after 2018. Tenants will also be able to force green deal measures under the same Energy Act 2011 and Green Deal Regulations 2012.
A Gas Safety Check
A vital requirement to ensure that your tenant is safe and covered by several different Acts of Parliament and Regulations. This must be done annually and as well as being a requirement to ensure that gas fittings are maintained in safe condition so it is short sighted not to have the boiler/fire etc serviced at the same time to maintain its efficiency and hopefully extend its working life. Best practice is to have a Carbon Monoxide alarm in each room where there is a gas appliance. TLC recommends the type that has a 7 year battery life so that you do not have to rely on your tenant to change the battery each year.
If the property has an open fire or wood burner then it should be swept. Check your insurance paperwork. Do you need evidence to prove that the chimney has been swept annually to maintain the validity of your insurance? In the case of a wood burning stove HETAS certification requires the fitting of a Carbon Monoxide alarm.
Electrical System Check
As a Landlord it is your legal responsibility under The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and The Plugs and Sockets etc (Safety) Regulations 1994 (as well as The Consumer Protection Act 1987) to ensure that the Electrical System is safe for use by your tenant. The most effective way to make sure of this, and to avoid your property being at higher risk of fire, is to have an electrical check carried out. Depending on the age of the wiring system the certificate will recommend when a further check should be carried out. A visual check should be carried out on a regular basis and definitely in between tenancies. Whilst this is being carried out the installation of mains powered smoke alarms is recommended to protect both your tenant and your property.
The property which you are about to let out must be safe for your tenant to occupy. The Housing Act 2004 allowed for introduction of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System Regulations 2005 which detail 29 Hazards such as excess cold, excess heat, falls and much more and how deficiencies can cause harm thereby becoming a hazard to the occupants, or likely occupants. Local Authorities have a duty and wide ranging powers of enforcement under the Housing Act to ensure that serious hazards are rectified.