Landlords: How to Prepare Your Property for a New Tenant
Published on February 28, 2021 by Paul Cassar
Getting ready for a new tenant is an important time. Aside from referencing, sorting out the tenancy agreement and making arrangements for the deposit to be protected, there is a lot to do in terms of getting the property ready for the new arrival.
You’ll want to do all you can to cement a good and lasting relationship with your new tenant. So, to ensure you get off on the right foot, here are some helpful guidelines to follow to help you ensure the property you are renting out is clean, safe, legally compliant and, most of all, welcoming.
Make sure the property is compliant with safety regulations
There are many regulations with which your property will need to comply. If you are overwhelmed by the amount of red tape, it may be an idea to hand over to letting agent or property manager. Let’s take a look at the applicable legislation.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 state that all gas appliances in privately rented properties must be checked for safety on an annual basis by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Once this check has been carried out, a Landlord Gas Safety Certificate (CP12) will be issued, a copy of which must be supplied to the new tenant.
As a residential landlord in England, you are required to maintain your property to certain standards of electrical safety as set out by the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020. You’ll need to make sure you have an inspection carried out by a qualified and competent person every five years, and supply an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) to the new tenant.
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 England and Wales, landlords have a number of fire safety related duties, including a requirement to undertake out fire risk assessments in the common areas of sheltered accommodation, flats, maisonettes and HMOs.
Also in connection with fire safety, the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended) give landlords the responsibility to make certain that all upholstered furniture is legally compliant. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 also makes it law to display the necessary fire safety labels on all supplied furnishings.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
You’ll need to make sure that there is a working smoke alarm on each storey of your property that’s used as living accommodation. Checking alarms that are already installed to ensure they work is important. You’ll also need to make sure there’s a carbon monoxide detector in every room where there’s a solid fuel-burning appliance. Again, be sure to test any existing alarms. This is all required under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. Your best bet is to install ten-year long life tamper-proof alarms in the property so that your tenant is unable to remove the batteries.
Fitness for habitation
You must also ensure that your property is fit for human habitation. Under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, you will need to ensure there are no serious instances of damp or mould growth; that there is no exposure to hazardous or toxic substances, or to pests; that there is an adequate supply of hot and cold water that’s free from contamination, that there is sufficient sanitation and drainage, and that there are satisfactory facilities for food storage and preparation. There are a lot more factors under this legislation that need to be complied with, so have a read of our Homes Fitness for Habitation guide to learn more.
See to your maintenance checklist
If you’ve already been letting your property then you should have a check-out report from the previous tenancy which will highlight any maintenance or repair tasks that need to be actioned ahead of your new tenant moving in.
You may find that you’ll need fill holes or cracks and repaint walls; re-grout tiles; rectify dripping taps and replace showerheads; replace roof tiles and repair or replace guttering, and generally make sure that the property is safe and habitable.
It is also important to work through all the appliances, fixtures and fittings to make sure everything works as it should. Anything that is damaged or not working properly will need attending to. Pay particular attention to the locks to ensure they are in full working order and able to protect the property and your new tenant.
On the subject of security, be sure to thoroughly check that all the keys have been returned and that no spares have been left under the door mat or plant pot. Change the alarm code too.
Your check-out report should highlight who is responsible for covering the costs of repairs outside of fair wear and tear.
It is down to your departing tenant to cover the cost of a professional clean if you provided one on check-in.
Whatever the situation, a deep clean is essential at the start of a new tenancy. Carpets that have been stained or soiled should be steam cleaned, again at the cost of the outgoing tenant if there is evidence they caused the damage. A professional oven clean is also a good idea so that everything is pristine in readiness for the new tenant.
Finally, empty the bins and clear away any rubbish.
Arrange a check-in and inventory
A clear, fully-documented record of the contents, condition and cleanliness of your property at the start of a tenancy will provide you with a comparison point for when it finishes. The check-in and inventory forms vital evidence of how you supplied the property so that you can prove any need to claim against the deposit should there be damage or neglect evident at the end of the tenancy.
Be sure to invite the new tenant to check the inspection report, make any comments and sign it off so that everything can be considered fair and unbiased.
Make your new tenants feel welcome
A happy tenant is a long term tenant, so it’s good to do whatever you can to make them feel welcome from day one. Here are some ideas to help you get off to the best possible start:
Pull together any useful information that will help your tenants settle in. Useful local services, emergency contacts, takeaway menus, instructions for any safety equipment supplied, waste collection days, etc. will all be considered helpful.
Instructions on how to use all the appliances supplied are always useful to new tenants. You may also want to provide a practical demonstration of anything that’s particularly complicated to use.
The softer touch
A vase of flowers, a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates or biscuits are a lovely way to greet a new tenant and make them feel valued.
How to rent guide
You’ll need to give this government guide to all new tenants. It sets out their rights and responsibilities. Without providing it, you will not be able to serve a Section 21 eviction notice. By sending it in an email you will have a record that you provided it, or you could ask the tenant to sign for it. It’s very important.
Need a check-out, check-in or inventory? We’re here to provide an unbiased, professional service at competitive rates, with fully detailed, photographic reports that will give you the evidence and reassurance you need should you need to make a claim against your new tenant’s deposit.