A key factor in tenants decisions on their rental property is imagining themselves and their belongings in that setting. Will their bed linen and soft furnishings match the paintwork? Does the colour palate suit their taste? Will they feel comfortable in this environment? One word sums up the colour scheme that we would recommend every time, “neutral”. Keep it light and fresh, so that the tenants can envisage how they might add their own personality without having a major colour conflict. In most situations we would recommend paint instead of wall paper and would advise a refresh every 3 to 5 years.
As with décor, try to stick with neutral tones, though anything too light might be avoided as it tends to show marks and discolouration. The level of furnishing varies from property to property, according to the requirements of the market. Larger family houses tend to have stronger demand as entirely unfurnished, so that tenants, usually families, can install their own possessions. One and two bed flats for long lets seem to be more popular if they contain the big bits of furniture, such as beds, sofas, dining table and chairs. Whilst short let properties in the main need to be furnished right down to bedding, towels, and kitchenware. When considering quality and style further thought needs to be given to your audience, the level of usage and the duration of the tenancy. Always think practically, stark rooms may look fantastic but most tenants need somewhere to store their clothes, shoes, suitcases, ironing boards and general paraphernalia, so storage is key.
Fixtures & fittings
Ensure that your fixtures and fittings are good quality, have universal appeal and longevity in terms of style. Wood floors are becoming increasingly popular throughout the main living accommodation, and many European tenants have a preference for wood flooring in the bedrooms too. Even unfurnished properties will require curtains or blinds and again keep them simple, neutral and good quality.
Technology & appliances
As a rule household appliances such as fridges, freezers, washing machines, ovens, hobs and dishwashers are expected in all properties whether or not they are fully furnished. Some larger, more expensive properties, may also benefit from wine fridges, integrated coffee machines, microwaves, air conditioning units. Short let properties would be expected to offer all conveniences such as a kettle, toaster, microwave, TV and media system. Even when you are not providing a wide selection of appliances it is preferable to ensure that the necessary network cabling is available.
Where applicable this area is the first impression that a tenant has when viewing the property, so it is beneficial to ensure that it is clean, tidy and well maintained.
Gardens should be left in seasonally good order, and whilst tenants are expected to ensure that the garden stays tidy, trimmed and pruned, they are not obliged to nurture flora and fauna.
Preparation and organisation are an integral part of a smooth tenancy. The initial outlay for renting a property isn’t insignificant and it can be some months before you see the return on your expenditure. However, doing it properly is worth every penny and cutting corners can often prove to be the more expensive option. Allow yourself plenty of time to accomplish the necessary as time pressure and haste can lead to unnecessary complications. Below are some areas to consider when preparing the property for incoming tenants.
It is expensive but it is entirely necessary and no, you can’t just ask your cleaner to stay for a few extra hours. One of the biggest complaints tenants make when taking up residency is that they’re new home hasn’t been cleaned to an adequate standard. It’s not a good start to the tenancy. A professional cleaning company do everything from steam cleaning carpets and curtains, cleaning in the extractor hood over your hobs, to cleaning round the drum of your tumble dryer. The big bonus is that tenants are expected to leave the property as they find it, so technically it should be just a one off expense.
We would recommend providing a set of keys for each tenant plus and extra set, and if we are managing the property on your behalf a further set for us to gain access when necessary.
It is a very good idea to leave a copy of user manuals and instructions for tenants as needless to say in a new environment there will be something that they can’t figure out and we all know how frustrating it is when you’re hungry and tired and can’t make the oven work.
If you have been living at the property, don’t forget to have your mail re-directed.
Utilities & council tax
It is advisable to contact your utility provider and council to inform them that you will be leaving the property and when, and that new tenants will be moving in.
Leave the property in good working order, have chimneys swept, burglar alarms serviced, light bulbs working throughout and deal with any repairs prior to the commencement of the tenancy.
Inventory & schedule of condition
All Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their property is safe for occupancy and the list below outlines which areas require compliance. We are able to assist in obtaining the necessary certification through approved contractors, upon request.
Gas Safety (installation & use) Regulations 1998
These regulations are statutory and relate to all gas appliances, fittings, pipework and installations whether served by mains gas, propane or Calor gas. An annual check is required by an approved contractor who appears on the Gas Safe Register, to ensure that there is no risk of harm or injury to residents at the property. The tenant must be provided with a copy of the gas safety certificate prior to the commencement of the tenancy and within 28 days of the annual renewal. Failure to comply is a criminal offence and therefore without a gas safety record we cannot allow the tenancy to commence.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
These certificates are valid for ten years and measure the energy efficiency and environmental impact of your property on a scale from A-G (where A is the most efficient and G the least). They are conducted by Domestic Energy Assessors and must be provided for any property which is advertised for let.
Furniture & furnishings (fire safety) regulations 1988 (as amended)
These regulations apply to all soft furnishings included in a rental property and manufactured post 1950 and pre 1989. Whilst carpets and curtains are not included in this category all upholstery and upholstered items are; beds, mattresses, headboards, pillows, cushions, sofas, loose/stretch fittings/covers (not exhaustive). All relevant furniture should have a visible safety tag attached or proof that it was purchased as new in the UK after 1989. If in doubt the item should be removed in advance of the tenancy commencement.
Electrical equipment (safety regulations) 1994
Under the provisions of these regulations any person supplying electrical equipment must ensure that it is safe and will not cause any danger. The regulation specifically relates to all electrical appliances in the property such as portable appliances (i.e. kettles, toasters, freestanding lamps, washing machines) and fixed appliances (i.e. electric ovens and hobs, wall mounted heaters, air conditioning units). To ensure compliance a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) should be carried out by a qualified electrician.
Electrical installation condition report (EICR)
As best practice it is recommended for Landlords to obtain this report in advance of a tenancy to ensure that all fixed wiring at the property is safe and presents no danger. The safety assessment should be carried out every five years by an approved electrical contractor.
Building regulations stipulate that homes built after June 1992 must be fitted with a mains operated interlinked smoke detectors on each floor. Whilst there is no current legal obligation for Landlords to provide smoke detectors in all other properties it is advised, as best practice, to provide a battery operated smoke detector on each storey. Where a smoke detector is provided the Landlord has a legal obligation to ensure that it is working at the start of the tenancy and the tenants obligation to maintain it through the tenancy.
Carbon Monoxide alarms
Increasingly, it is becoming the norm to install carbon monoxide alarms in all properties containing gas appliances and equipment.
Water and bacterial control
Revised Approved Codes of Practice (ACOP) and guidance on the control of Legionella bacteria has been issued by the Health & Safety Executive which places an onus on Landlords to carry out risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires Disease and thereafter maintain control measures to minimise the risk. For further information refer to hse.gov.uk/legionnaires.
PERMISSIONS & CONSENTS
As a stakeholder in your property, it is necessary to obtain the consent of your mortgage lender prior to entering into a tenancy agreement. Some covenants within your mortgage agreement may prevent you from using the property for purposes other than as a private residential property.
Freeholder / Head lease
Many flats and apartments in the UK fall into two categories leasehold or share of freehold. In both of these situations you will be legally bound by a Head Lease, which will stipulate whether “sub-letting” the property is permitted. Consent will need to be secured from either the Management Company, the other freeholders, where it is shared, or the Freeholder.
Buildings Insurance remains the responsibility of the Landlord throughout the tenancy, therefore adequate cover should be in place at the commencement of the tenancy. It is also necessary to inform your Insurance provider that the property is to be let, to ensure that you have appropriate cover.