Steps to take before a tenant moves in

Posted: 4th Jun 2014

There are obviously a number of things that, as a landlord, you will want to see to before your new tenants move in.

These may typically fall into three broad categories namely:

  1. things relating to the preparation of the property itself;
  2. the selection and vetting of tenants;
  3. things that relate to the legalities of the tenancy and that document the respective roles and responsibilities.

Specifically:

  • in a competitive letting market your property may need to look attractive to potential tenants – so a fresh coat of paint and a thorough cleaning may make it easier for you to find suitable people;
  • in addition though, any property that is being let out to tenants needs to conform to certain health and safety standards and it must be well maintained. This is in your best interests, as any injuries your tenants or other members of the public may suffer due to some badly maintained element of your property, might result with you in court being sued for damages;
  • remember that you are obliged to have gas and electrical appliances professionally and appropriately serviced on a regular basis. You must also have copies of operating instructions available;
  • take considerable care in following up references and carrying appropriate background checks on your tenants. It may also be a good idea to keep a photocopy of their passport or driving licence;
  • if you are having difficulties finding tenants and your property is standing empty for extended periods of time, you may need to also think about specific insurance to cover this eventuality;
  • remember too that not all landlords’ insurance policies may provide cover for all categories of tenant. Companies such as ourselves at Cover4LetProperty however have policies covering all types of tenant including students, DSS, immigrants etc;
  • there can be no argument that from time to time you may experience trouble with your tenants. While this may not happen very often, as a landlord you should perhaps always prepare for the worst so that you can best protect your own interests;
  • this could include taking steps like getting your future tenants to sign a Section 21 notice to quit at the start of their tenancy so that this can be served immediately in the event their behaviour subsequently warrants it. You may otherwise have to wait two months before you are legally able to get rid of anti-social tenants;
  • it is always sensible to have a full and detailed inventory with photographs where appropriate of your contents, fixtures and fittings. This should be signed by your tenants and don’t forget to have the date on there so you have a clear and unambiguous record of the condition of your property and its contents at the start of the tenancy. Give a copy of this document to your tenant and keep a copy yourself in a safe place;
  • you should also note that with certain types of tenancy agreement, you have to lodge your tenants’ deposit in one of several schemes which have been set up for this purpose. This ensures both your and your tenants’ interests should there be a dispute at the end of the tenancy about damages to your property;
  • The government provides a useful internet site where you can find more information on deposit schemes .