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New landlord checklist for renting your first property

If you're a new private landlord or just about to take the plunge into letting properties we've prepared a checklist to make sure you don't forget anything when you welcome your first tenant.

Make sure the property is ready to rent

Safety is your biggest concern. As a private landlord, it's your responsibility to ensure your property is safe for the tenant. Does every habitable floor have a mains wired fire alarm? Have they been tested and are working correctly? If you have a solid fuel burner remember you have to install a carbon monoxide alarm as well as regular fire alarms. If you have furnished the property ensure all furniture is flame resistant.

Is the property clean?

It should go without saying that the property must be clean. But don't overlook a final clean before opening the property for viewings. First impressions count and you don't want to put off any potential tenants.

Is the decorating finished?

In the excitement of preparing for a new tenant, not to mention the rush to start seeing a return on your investment, it's easy to overlook small details. Did you remember to finish the grouting in the bathroom? Did that skirting board get painted? What about the new handles on the internal doors? There are always 101 things to do and a walk around the property may reveal a small snagging list.

Make sure your EPC is valid

Your property must have an up to date energy performance certificate. This is a legal requirement and you must provide your tenant with a copy of the certificate. If you don't have an EPC yet you should get one before you start advertising for tenants. You can't market the property unless it has an EPC.

Have you got your Gas Safety Certificate?

Another legal requirement. If your property has gas you must have a safety certificate. Qualified gas safe engineers must issue the certificates. The engineer will inspect your property and check appliances, pipework and flues are safe and in good condition. You must renew your gas safety certificate every year. You must also give a copy to your tenant.

Landlords insurance

Normal residential insurance is unsuitable for private landlords. You must take out specialist landlords insurance. There are different policies available so make sure your broker chooses the right policy for your particular circumstances.

Advertise your property with a reputable letting agent

Finding tenants quickly is essential for every private landlord. An empty property doesn't generate income. To find tenants you should list your property with a reputable letting agent who will market your rental on the biggest property portals as well as to their own database of tenants who are looking to rent in your area.

Find your tenant

Your marketing will produce a steam of prospective tenants. Once the viewings are over you're like to have more than one tenant to choose from.

Check your tenant's references

Finding tenants is obviously important for every private landlord. But don't be in too much of a hurry. You need to find the right tenant. And an essential part of this is checking references. No matter how nice a person they appear to be, or how desperate you are to let the property, follow up on the references. Especially previous landlord references.

Carry out a right to rent check

Before your tenant moves in you must carry out a right to rent check. The penalties for not doing this are quite severe.

Draft your tenancy agreement

Every assured shorthold tenancy needs a tenancy agreement. You can draft this yourself, use a government model or have your letting agent draw up the documentation. The latter option will ensure you cover every eventuality. Needless to say, both you and your tenant must sign the contract.

Prepare an inventory

Before your tenant moves in you should have an inventory drawn up. The inventory records the condition of the property prior to the tenancy beginning. The inventory will include photos as well as a written report. The inventory will be essential evidence should there be any dispute with your tenant over damages at the end of the tenancy.

Protect your tenant's deposit

When your tenant pays you a security deposit you must register it with a government approved deposit protection scheme. Legally you must do this within 30 days. You must also provide your tenant with information about the scheme you are using. You should also give your tenant a copy of the government's How to Rent booklet.

Once you've taken all these steps and followed the checklist your tenant is ready to move in.

As one of the UK's longest established online letting agents, you'll find good tenants faster by listing your property with MakeUrMove.

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