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Seven Mistakes For Landlords To Avoid

This post is part of the Martin and Co #FeatureFri Twitter initiate. On the last Friday of every month, a guest blog post is shared on the Martin & Co News section and within our social media channels. Search #FeatureFri on Twitter or check out all #FeatureFri guest blog posts on Property Today.

This months #FeatureFri is written and provided by Dan Dan Le Corney, Director of miServices South, an independent provider of inventory, check in and check out inspections, miServices aims to protect the landlord's investment by producing a detailed record of each property's condition.

MiServices work with several Martin & Co lettings branches across London and the South East, although offer national coverage. Preparing a property for renting can be a busy time. In the rush it's easy to overlook something important, especially if you're a new landlord.

There's a lot to remember, so make sure you avoid some of these common mistakes - they could prove costly in the long run...

Overlooking Safety Checks

This can be one of the biggest errors you can make. Did you know, gas safety certificates are required by law, while electrical safety checks and legionella risk assessments are strongly recommended. All reports should be carried out by qualified inspectors. Depending on the inspection results, you might need to arrange remedial works.

Remember to also provide tenants with a copy of the safety tests. An irresponsible landlord overlooking these checks, amongst other safety responsibilities, could be vulnerable to legal action. Some local authorities operate a licensing scheme with more stringent requirements - check with your council to see if your property is affected.

The Martin and Co New Landlord Checklist

The Martin and Co New Landlord Checklist provides details of all health and safety considerations, which should be made.

Not Having Adequate Insurance

If you don't have insurance cover, you could be left to pick up the cost if something goes wrong. Though not required by law, it's strongly recommended. If the property was bought with a mortgage, the lender may require you to buy insurance. (Incidentally, you should also ensure your mortgage allows the property to be let out). The main thing you'll need is legal cover for your liability for any accidents causing injuries; optional extras include:
  • Insurance for building repairs/maintenance
  • Rent guarantees if the tenant falls into arrears
  • Contents insurance - for furnished properties - helping you cover the cost of repairing or replacing faulty items
Tenants have to purchase their own contents insurance to cover their belongings.

Failure To Produce A Tenancy Agreement

This is a crucial document. Though you may be happy with a standard agreement - you should always familiarise yourself with it and check that its details apply to your property. Some landlords insert clauses into the agreement to assuage specific concerns. For example, if the incoming tenant has a cat or dog you might require a professional flea treatment at the end of tenancy to be added into the tenancy agreement. If your property is on leasehold, you should check the lease for any requirements the tenant need adhere to - these can be added to the tenancy agreement.

Not Keeping Your Records

Proof of purchase and keeping all relevant receipts are all useful evidence in the event of a dispute at the end of tenancy. If the tenants have damaged an item, you'll be able to claim a greater amount of compensation if you can prove the object was recently fitted, redecorated or professionally cleaned before they moved in.

Neglecting A Thorough Inventory Report

An inventory report accurately records the condition and contents of your property. Whether you, the agent, or an independent clerk carry it out, it's best practice to show the tenant the completed document, and allow them to provide additions within a certain time frame after moving in. To avoid a nasty argument later in the tenancy, it's important all parties are in agreement with the property's condition from the start.

Not Cleaning Up

There's nothing likelier to start a tenancy on a rocky footing than a cleaning issue. Tenants are unlikely to be impressed if they discover residue from the last occupant or the dusty residue left by maintenance work. There have even been instances of tenants pulling out of a tenancy, as the cleaning didn't match their expectations.

Not Providing Instruction Manuals

Your tenant has moved in and they appear happy with everything. Next thing you know, they're asking you to demonstrate how everything works! To help avoid this, it's important to provide instruction manuals for all appliances in the property - including white goods, burglar alarms and heating systems (especially important during winter). If there's a certain 'knack' to anything, you may want to write your own, easier to understand guide.

This list isn't exclusive - if you're a first time landlord you may want to seek advice to ensure you avoid additional mistakes. Any capable letting agent, supplier or another expert will point you in the right direction. It's always worth a little extra effort to avoid a larger problem later.

At Martin and Co, we are always here to provide Landlord advice. Contact your local Martin and Co branch for more details. Alternatively, please see our ten-step New Landlord checklist.

We advise that you download and print this whole Landlord checklist to help you. It has been designed for first time Landlords but can also be used as a useful reminder for even the most experienced Landlords.

Disclaimer: Guest blog posts on the Martin and Co blog are written by external companies. Martin and Co do not endorse the products or services of these companies.

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