when preparing your property to let, your standards need to be high if you want to attract the right tenant. Slapdash work and a poorly maintained interior would probably lead to a tenant with a similar attitude - not good start.
Preparing your property to let isn't complicated, but it does take time and money to get right.
Safety first - The safety of your tenant is paramount. Accidents from faulty equipment or services in your property will be costly to remedy and could even result in legal action if someone is badly hurt. Here are the main safety considerations:
- Gas safety - under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords must arrange to have all gas appliances, pipework, fittings and flues checked every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Electrical equipment - you aren't required by law to get your electrical supply and appliances checked. However, there are lots of regulations covering electrics and you do have a duty of care to your tenant. It's good practice to arrange for a portable appliance test (PAT) for all the electrical appliances in your property before you let it. Alexander Charles & Browne will be able to recommend qualified local tradespeople for gas and electricity tests.
- Furniture and furnishings - to minimise the risk of fire, the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 set out requirements for soft furnishings, such as cushions, beds, sofas and pillows. It's illegal to provide furnishings that don't comply.
- Smoke alarms - all properties built after 1991 must be fitted with mains-powered smoke alarm. For older houses, the rules are less clear-cut, so the best advice we give is to get smoke alarms fitted without question. They are cheap and easy to fit - and they save lives and your property!
Presentation - One person's taste in colour schemes and furnishings will not necessarily be shared by others. So try not to impose a highly personal style on a property you want to let. Keep the décor simple; neutral colour schemes and furnishings are unlikely to offend peoples tastes, and will help you let your property quickly.
Really think about the property you're trying to let, the likely rental value and the types of tenant you think will be interested. There's no point installing high-spec fixtures and fittings in a one bedroom property in an likely to attract a graduate coming to the city for their first job. Likewise, a flat decked out in budget furniture from a certain well-known store probably won't go down well with a top city lawyer looking for a city-centre pad to entertain friends. If you're in doubt, speak to your Alexander Charles & Browne letting agent who will give you good advice on the best way to decorate and furnish.
In your haste to let the property, don't neglect the garden on balcony, if there is one. Few things are more off-putting to a prospective tenant than outside space that has become a dumping ground. Good, usable outside space comes at a premium, especially in major towns and cities, and it can greatly increase your rental yield. Don't go over the top though- your tenant is unlikely to want to spend too much time maintaining the garden, so simple lawns, decked areas, or patios and potted plants are good options. If ongoing maintenance is an issue, it might be an idea to include the services of a gardener in the rent.
EPC's for lettings properties - On 1st October 2008, the energy performance of Buildings Directive became effective throughout the private rented sector. This legislation states that all residential rental properties must have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for tenants to view before contracts are signed.
An EPC shows you and prospective tenant/s how energy efficient your property is and recommends ways of improving this. It also shows how the property may effect the environment. The EPC must be made available to all prospective tenants. Your Alexander Charles & Browne agent can arrange for an EPC to be prepared on your behalf.
Other things to think about - The list of things you could or must do before you let your property is endless. As well as the essential stuff we've already mentioned, here's a reminder of other things to consider:
- If the property is to be let furnished, you must ensure that its 100% habitable and the tenant has everything they need from the outset.
- There's little difference in rental value for furnished or unfurnished property, so try to be flexible, to get as many potential tenants through the door as possible.
- If you're letting the property unfurnished, you must still ensure the property has working, safety-checked appliances, including a fridge, freezer, washing machine, oven and hob. In London, all rental properties should have window fittings such as curtains or blinds.
- Get enough sets of keys cut for the agent and future tenants.
- Ensure all minor DIY jobs are finished, such as putting up shelves, changing light bulbs and finishing skirting boards.
- Supply important day-to-day items such as vacuum cleaner, mop and bucket, brush and pan and iron.
- Hire a professional cleaner before tenant moves in.
- Remove any items you care about and wouldn't want damaged or broken.
- Defrost the fridge and freezer.
- Bleed the radiators.
- Leave instruction manuals for all appliances and take copies for yourself and the managing agent (if you have one).