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Preparing to let your property

Whatever the reasons for letting out your property, here are some practical points to get you started:

  • if you have a mortgage on the property, do you have a buy-to-let mortgage or consent to the letting from your mortgage provider?

  • if you own the property under a long lease, do you have approval to the letting from your freeholder?

  • are you going to use an agent to market the property? For a fee, they can help you with your landlord responsibilities. Make sure any agent carries the 'Safe Agent' kitemark.

The property

Once you are ready to move ahead with letting, there are a number of important legal requirements and landlord responsibilities relating to the property (also known as the ‘dwelling’ in Wales) that must be considered:

  • if the property is self-contained, have you got an energy performance certificate (EPC)? This certificate compares the property’s current and potential energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions. For more information, read Energy performance certificates (EPCs)

  • does the property have all required smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms?

  • have you checked that all gas appliances and equipment have been fully serviced by a registered engineer? You must carry out a gas safety check every 12 months. For more information, read Legal obligations of a landlord

  • are all gas safety records kept in a safe and secure place? You must provide your tenants with an annual gas safety certificate. For more information, read Legal obligations of a landlord

  • has all the electrical wiring been checked and safety approved by a qualified electrician? Is an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) available? For more information, read Legal obligations of a landlord

  • have you updated your Local Authority council tax department that the property will be let?

  • have you spoken to your insurance provider? If you don’t let your insurance provider know you are letting your property, you may not be covered in the event of damage, fire or theft at the property

  • have you decided what will be included in the letting? It is always important to prepare an Inventory of all of the furniture, fixtures and fittings in the property. Note that in Wales, an inventory must be provided to prospective contract holders within 14 days of them moving in. For more information, read Occupation contracts in Wales

  • do all the furniture, fixtures and fittings at the property meet the safety guidelines? As a general guide, any furniture made before 1988 is unlikely to meet the standard. For more information, read Legal obligations of a landlord

  • is the property accessible? If a tenant has a disability, a landlord should consider any reasonable adjustments that tenants request

Can I charge tenants any additional fees?

Since 2019, the Tenant Fees Act legislation is in place banning landlords and agents from charging tenants, and prospective tenants, certain fees. It is designed to restrict the kinds of payments that landlords and letting agents can charge to tenants in connection with the letting of a property. Think of things like credit checks, reference checks, cleaning services, inventory checks, admin fees or check-out fees.

The law also sets out strict regulations for the treatment of holding deposits and cleaning costs.

The following is an exempted list (ie the fees that are permitted):

  • rent

  • utilities and council tax – if this is included within the tenancy agreement

  • a refundable tenancy deposit – capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent where the annual rent is less than £50,000 or 6 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above

  • a refundable holding deposit to reserve the property – capped at a week’s rent

  • changes to the tenancy requested by the tenant – capped at £50 or reasonable costs incurred if higher

  • early termination of the tenancy requested by the tenant

  • defaults by the tenant  – such as fines for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device, where required under a tenancy agreement

Any other fees that are not on this permitted list are banned.

For more information, read Tenant fees.

How much rent should I charge?

In letting out the property you need to decide what level of rent you will charge.

  • do you know an acceptable level of rent? Look at similar-sized properties available to rent nearby

  • what will the rent include? Will it be just the rent or will the tenant also pay all utility bills and council tax or will the rent include these extra costs?

  • will you be taking a deposit? If a deposit is taken, there are laws concerning how the tenant’s money is kept and prescribed information that must be given to the tenant

  • do you have a rent book, or similar document, to keep track of payments made and payments due? Consider using a Rent receipt to confirm (part) receipt of rent paid to you

What type of tenancy agreement should I use?

Different types of tenancy are available depending on what you want and what you have to offer. You will need to consider whether you: 

  • will be living at the property

  • are letting the property to a tenant or your family members

  • want to let individual rooms to a number of different tenants

Whichever agreement you choose, it is a contract between you and the tenant(s). It will contain rights for you both and record the level of rent to be paid.

You can make your rental documents using Rocket Lawyer’s various Tenancy agreements. For more information on the different types of residential letting documents, read Residential tenancies and Residential tenancies in Wales.

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