Don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of having to do lots of work on your rental property – here we break down your property prep into 10 steps…
1. Replace the kitchen and/or bathroom if necessary
It’s the kitchen and the bathroom that can make or break a rental property, so ensure both these rooms look their best. Modernising the kitchen and/or bathroom can be a large expense, but it’s an investment that offers significant benefits:
- You can let a desirable property out for a higher rent
- You’ll attract a large pool of prospective tenants
- You’ll limit the chance of void periods, so you won’t lose as much money between tenancies
- A new or refreshed kitchen and/or bathroom is likely to increase the value of the property overall, which will benefit you if and when you decide to sell.
2. Clean or replace the carpets
A well-looked-after carpet will last between 5 and 10 years. If you have had a long-term tenant in your current property, we recommend getting the carpets professionally cleaned or even replacing them. Tenants tend to take better care of properties that have been carefully cleaned and refurbished between tenancies than those that haven’t. We’re happy to help you arrange the cleaning or replacement of flooring, as we work closely with a number of local contractors and are therefore able to recommend someone reputable for you.
3. Decorate in neutral colours
You want your property to appeal to the largest possible number of potential tenants, so we recommend using a neutral colour scheme when you’re getting the place ready to rent. Aim to create a ‘blank canvas’ that will allow prospective tenants to picture themselves living in the property, but that still looks attractive. White, cream and grey shades will make the property look light and modern and will suit most tenants.
4. Prepare an inventory
An inventory is a catalogue of the condition of the property, and it is one way of limiting the risk of damage to the property and its contents. We carry out an inventory before a new tenant moves in and then compare it with the checkout report at the end of their tenancy before returning the deposit.During the inventory, our team will take photographs, check that all appliances and lights work, and ensure all keys are present. If anything is missing or not working, it will be photographed and recorded. The inventory will then be sent to the tenant so they can look through it and query anything if necessary.
5. Make sure you have all the relevant certificates
To legally let your property, you must have the following certificates:
- Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
- Gas Safety Record (GSR)
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a rating of A-E – you cannot let a property with an F or G rating
- HETAS Certificate if the property has a working fireplace or heating appliance like a woodburning stove that the tenants will be allowed to use. We are happy to instruct electricians and engineers to make the relevant checks at your property and issue the certificates, or you are welcome to make these arrangements yourself.
If any of the essential certificates are due for renewal during a tenancy, we will send you a reminder of the renewal date and check whether you’d like us to instruct an engineer to complete the renewal.
6. Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Since 2015, it has been a legal requirement to have at least one smoke alarm on every floor of a property. If you have a working fireplace or a solid-fuel heating appliance like a wood-burning stove, you will also need a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm. We will make sure all alarms are working before the new tenancy begins.
7. If your rental property is part of a block, find out if there are any rules that apply to communal spaces, and whether pets are allowed (if relevant)
You may need to speak to the managing agents for the block as they are likely to have a document outlining the rules and requirements of the head lease. This often includes the use of balconies and communal gardens, noise at night, subletting, and so on. If you are planning to allow your tenants to have pets, again, you’ll need to check the head lease.
8. Consider a ‘To Let’ board
Boards will capture the attention of a broad range of people – particularly those who aren’t able to look for a property online, as well as people in the local area who aren’t looking for a property themselves but know somebody who is.
9. Prepare legal documents
As part of your contract with us, you will need to provide proof that you own the property you will be letting out and sign our agreed terms of business. You will also need to provide the certificates detailed in point 5.The tenant will be required to sign a declaration of circumstance form and will be sent a copy of a draft tenancy agreement before paying the holding deposit. They will then go through the referencing process, which involves a ‘right to rent check’, a credit check, confirmation that they can afford the rent, and a check of their residential background.
Once the prospective tenant has passed the referencing process, we will send them the tenancy agreement to sign. The final stage is for the tenant to pay the rest of the deposit and one month’s rent in advance. Once all the necessary documents have been processed, we will prepare the keys and get all the documentation ready for the move-in date.
10. What happens on the day your tenants move in?
On the move-in day, we’ll arrange a time for your tenants to come and collect their keys from our office. We’ll check that the tenancy agreement is signed, all money has been received, and the property is ready for them. When they come to the office, we’ll also check their IDs (passport or identity card) as part of the ‘right to rent’ check.
We provide tenants with a move-in pack that includes all the information they need, such as: who to contact in the event of maintenance issues, the bank details for transferring rent money, a list of valuable contacts for setting up bills, details of contractors who can be contacted in the event of emergency, and guidance on how to prevent condensation building up in the property. We will explain how to report maintenance issues and, depending on whether the property is fully managed or not, we’ll provide details on how to do this via our website.
We’ll confirm that all tenants have received an electronic copy of the inventory and will explain that they have 7 days to check it and raise any concerns or queries. All that’s left to do after that is answer any questions they have and wish them luck with the move!