Once you’ve advertised your buy-to-let property, found a suitable tenant and agreed on a date to start the tenancy, there are lots of things you need to do as a landlord. It’s natural to assume that “move-in day” is nothing more than turning up at your property and handing over the keys, but the truth is that you have a range of legal and practical obligations to ensure your property is suitable for your tenants. We’ve rounded up some of the biggest…
As a landlord, it’s vital that you hand over your property in a safe condition. With the property empty, now is the time to perform a full check and perform any necessary changes to both protect your tenants and protect yourself against liability issues down the line. You’ll need a valid Landlord Gas Safety Certificate and have any electrical equipment you’re providing as part of the tenancy PAT tested. You’ll also need a smoke alarm on each floor, and you should check for things such as damp and pest infestations indoors and out. Get these fixed before tenants move in, and if the worst happens, ask to delay their move-in day to accommodate.
Landlord insurance might not be a legal requirement, but it’s certainly something that you should consider to protect yourself. Some policies not only protect the building and contents but protect you against loss of rent and landlord liability, should something go wrong. It offers peace of mind and gives you one less thing to worry about, so don’t overlook the benefits.
Even the world’s best tenants will leave scuffs and marks on your walls as they vacate your property, but giving your hallways and living room a quick lick of paint before the next tenant moves in is a great way to get the relationship off to a good start. Refreshing the property will also set expectations - your tenants will know you’re serious about keeping the property in a good condition, they’ll be more likely to look after it and maintain it to a reasonable standard.
If you’re letting your property out for the first time, you’ll need to take a full inventory, and if you’re welcoming new tenants to one of your existing properties, you should update that inventory as soon as possible. You can pay for a professional to create an inventory or do it yourself - either way, make sure your document is clear, photographs are of high-quality, and there’s no ambiguity. Ideally, you should perform an inventory when the property is empty.
Although your vacating tenants should have left your property in a good condition, it’s a nice idea to invest in a professional cleaner (or get down and dirty yourself) to give everything the once over. You want to make the right first impression when you meet your new tenants, and they don’t want to have to spend their first day scrubbing cupboards and cleaning carpets.
Before your new tenants arrive, take meter readings and hand over a copy to your new tenants so they only pay for the energy they used. It’s a good idea to take photos of the readings with timestamps to avoid disputes, and inform your current suppliers that new tenants are moving in can streamline the process and reduce the chances of unpaid bills.
Arrange a time to meet your new tenants at the property and say hello. You certainly don’t need to wear a suit and tie, but keeping it professional and friendly is a good idea. It’s likely that move-in day will be a big day for your tenants; they might be moving out of their parents’ home, moving in with a partner, or relocating, so bear that in mind and give them a warm welcome. Some landlords leave their new tenants a card or a box of chocolates to welcome them, and you can even buy “move-in hamper packs” online, branded to your business.
It’s your legal duty to hand over a Tenants Information Pack when they move into your property, that includes a copy of the How to Rent guide, a Gas Safety Certificate, and any other legal documents. Failure to deliver this pack on day one could mean that you’d be refused a Section 21 if you ever wanted to evict your tenants. Asking them to sign to show that they are in receipt of the documents is a good way to protect yourself down the line.
Although not necessary, walking your tenants through the property with your inventory is a good way to welcome them into their new home, answer any questions they have about the appliances, and make any last-minute checks to your inventory. Leaving instruction manuals is a good idea - it’ll not only benefit your tenants but stop them from calling you every five minutes! Once you’re both happy with your inventory and the property’s condition, you can sign and date the inventory, reducing the chances of potential disagreements down the line.
Before you leave the property, discuss how you’ll stay in touch. Your tenant might prefer that you contact them via text message or email, or you might want them to call you on a particular line in an emergency. Set boundaries and be clear on what you can and cannot offer as a landlord; if you’re independent and aren’t working with an agency, you might need to think about giving the contact details of a friend or family member if you’re unavailable.
There you have it - ten ways you can make move-in day more relaxed and straightforward for your tenants. If you want to make life even easier, consider working with Billing Better to offer a bills-included tenancy service, allowing your tenants to pay one monthly fee for their rent and all of their household bills. Reach out today for a free demonstration of the service.