There are many steps you need to cover as a landlord to make your property ready for housing tenants, including legal obligations, marketing, property maintenance, and financial accounts.

We’re compiled a landlord checklist of things you need to take care of before renting out your property, including:

  • Make sure your property is safe
  • Check if you need an HMO license
  • Protect yourself with landlord insurance
  • Arrange an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Get a How To Rent guide
  • Reference your tenants
  • Use a modern and efficient accounting system

Landlord checklist for preparing your property

Make sure your property is safe

Safety is everything when it comes to renting out your property. As a landlord, you have a duty to keep tenants safe, and failing to do so could result in hefty fines or even prison in some cases. According to government guidelines, you have a legal responsibility to make sure your property is safe and free from health hazards. This means you must:

  • Install a smoke alarm on every floor with a room used for living space
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in every room with a solid fuel-burning appliance (for example, a boiler)
  • Make sure the electrical system is safe, including sockets and light fittings
  • Ensure all appliances you supply are safe, like cookers, microwaves and kettles
  • Provide tenants with a valid Gas Safety certificate (also known as a CP12) at the start of their tenancy

Check if you need an HMO license

HMO stands for ‘house of multiple occupation’, and you need to get one if both of the following statements describe your property:

  • At least three tenants live there, forming more than one household
  • The tenants share a bathroom, toilet, or kitchen with other tenants

If your property has more than five tenants that form more than one household and that share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen with each other, it counts as a large HMO property. 

To rent out your property as an HMO in England or Wales, you need to contact your local council to check if you need a licence. Although, large HMOs always need an HMO license. Landlords of HMO properties need to follow a set of rules to ensure the housing conditions are up to par and tenants are safe. You can find out more about these rules and conditions here.

Protect yourself with landlord insurance

When renting a property, things can sometimes go wrong that are outside of your control, like flooding, appliance breakdowns, or fire. As a result, you may need to have repairs made that can end up being very costly. It’s important to consider what insurance you need to protect yourself in case these things happen.

It’s not a legal requirement to have landlord insurance, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Landlord insurance can include a variety of options, such as buildings, contents, legal expenses, rent guarantee, and so on. Do some research and find the cover that best suits your circumstances.

Arrange an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

All landlords must be able to provide tenants with an EPC on the day they move in. Since 2008, it’s been a legal requirement to include an EPC rating with all advertisements for rental properties. If you don’t already have an EPC, you need to order one before you start marketing your property to let.

You need to provide a new EPC every time you rent your home to a new tenant so they know how energy-efficient the property is. It’s also good practice to take the meter readings at the start and end of a tenancy (a photo of it is fine) for your records.

Get a ‘How To Rent’ guide

Like the EPC, you must always give your new tenants a document called the “How to Rent guide” before they start renting the property. This guide will list key information like tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities, deposit arrangements, and so on. You can find out more details and download a copy of the document from the government website.

It’s worth noting that tenants are legally entitled to know who you are and where you live as their landlord. This means that you must give your tenants this information within 21 days of them moving in. Failure to do so could lead to a fine.

Create an effective property ad

You need to do a few things to make your ad web-friendly to increase your odds of attracting potential tenants. For example, your ad description needs to be clear and to the point (remember to include your EPC rating) and that your photos must be of excellent quality. Unfocused photos taken in poorly lit rooms can cause viewers to shy away from your property. 

You want to make sure your rooms are clean, tidy, and well lit to look homey and inviting. Use the best camera you have access to (newer smartphones have really good ones) and take clean, bright, and in-focus photos. The more welcoming your photos look, the more likely you are to attract tenants.

Carry out a ‘Right to Rent’ check

The Right to Rent scheme requires landlords to check whether considered tenants have the legal right to rent in the UK. You can identify tenants’ immigration status by checking and taking copies of their identity documents, including UK passport, EU passport or identity cards, permanent residence cards or travel documents showing indefinite leave to remain.

Other accepted proof of Right to Rent is Home Office immigration status documents or certificates of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen. You can find out more about checking a tenant’s right to rent here.

Reference your tenants

While tenancy referencing is not a legal requirement, it can help minimise the risk of letting the property. A tenant reference will typically include all their basic information as well as previous or current employment details, bank statements, addresses and references from previous landlords. 

Referencing your potential tenant will allow you to make an informed decision about whether to accept their application or not. 

Use a modern and efficient accounting system

The final step on your landlord checklist should be to make sure you have the best possible system in place to help you manage your finances effectively.

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app that is helping thousands of UK business owners save time on their financial admin.

The two-in-one app gives you real-time profit and loss insights, automatic expense categorising, and automated bookkeeping features, saving you hours of time to focus on making your property profitable. Find out more here.