Guide to renting your property
Becoming a landlord
Renting property can be a great way to make some extra cash, but if you're a first-time landlord, it's easy to be unsure about how to get started.
In our how to rent guide, we help answer common questions about becoming a landlord. We break down how to rent your house or flat and what you need to do to get your property ready for renters.
First, check whether you need permission to rent out your property
If you own your home outright, you won’t need permission to rent out your property. However, if you have an outstanding mortgage, you’ll need to seek permission from your mortgage lender.
Understanding the different types of landlords
There are many reasons why you could be renting out your house or flat. You could be moving in with a partner, relocating to a new city or even looking to invest. The type of landlord you are will depend on how you plan on renting your property.
Renting out your current home
If you're temporarily moving out of your home, a great way to continue to pay towards your mortgage is by getting tenants to move in. Letting your home out this way is called being an accidental landlord, because even though you're renting our house out, there's a strong possibility you'll be moving back in.
Renting out a room in your house
If you've got a spare room in your home, getting a flatmate is a great way to save some money. When you're sharing the space you're renting; you become a resident or live in landlord. Different rules apply as you'll need to respect your tenant's privacy. For specific advice for resident landlords check out this Government guide.
Renting out a property permanently
If you've decided to move out of your home and rent it out permanently, you'll need to treat this more as an investment. The same goes if you've bought a property specifically for renting. Before you choose tenants to live in your property, you'll need to ensure you've provided a safe and liveable environment. Be sure to make cost-effective decisions and decide whether you’ll be renting out your place furnished or unfurnished.
7 steps to renting a property
1. Safety first
As a landlord, you have a responsibility to create a safe living environment for your tenants. Before your tenants move in, you’ll need to carry out an inspection to ensure your house meets the necessary safety requirements. There are different regulations depending on which part of the UK you’re renting out your property. Be sure to follow the latest advice for your area:
If you’re renting out a property to tenants who are not from one household but will share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen (for example, students), you’ll need to check whether your property requires a house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence. You can check your postcode here to see if you need an HMO licence.
Here are some key safety measures applicable to all areas of the UK:
Before tenants move in you’ll need to ensure gas safety equipment is installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Once your gas check has been complete, you’ll receive a copy of the record to share with your tenant. You’ll need to have a registered engineer do a check on all gas appliances once a year.
If you're renting your property as furnished, make sure you check all household appliances such as a cooker or toaster are safe to use. Any light fittings and plug sockets in the house will need to be assessed to make sure they meet regulations.
Each floor on a rented property needs to have a smoke alarm fitted, and for any rooms with a built-in fireplace, you’ll need to include a carbon monoxide alarm.
It’s a legal requirement for landlords to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the energy rating must be a minimum rating of E. Landlords must have an accredited assessor evaluate the property and share a copy of the EPC with tenants. Find out more here:
- England, Wales and Northern Ireland
2. Get that house looking spic and span
Welcome new tenants to a well-scrubbed up home. By providing a freshly cleaned house, it will kick the tenancy off to a good start and hopefully encourage them to keep things in order.
3. Have you got insurance?
The insurance you require will depend on how you plan to rent out your home. If you already have home insurance and you plan to be a live in landlord your insurance will likely cover you for any tenants. It’s best to check with your insurance provider first and declare that you will be renting out part of your property.
If you’re going to be renting out your entire home, you’ll need to invest in landlord’s insurance. It will offer your exclusive features that are only applicable when renting a property.
4. How to find tenants
It’s only natural you want to find reliable tenants for your property, after all, you’re trusting them to live in your home. Finding new tenants can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but here are some quick ways to begin the search.
Take some photos of your property and list it online. You can list your property on sites like Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, Spareroom and The Houseshop for free. If you’re struggling to find anyone suitable you can also spend a bit of cash and list on online letting agents such as RightMove.
Don’t forget to ask family, friends and work colleagues whether they know anyone who's looking to rent.
Once you’ve generated some interest for your property, you should organise interviews for your tenants. The interview will be a chance for the tenants to see the property and for you to decide whether they’re the right fit. You can request a reference from their previous landlord, or a character reference for extra peace of mind. You’ll also need to check your tenants are legally able to live in your property, review the Government’s right to rent guide for more details on how to do this.
5. Tenancy agreement
If you’re a new landlord, you may feel a little overwhelmed with the thought of drawing up a tenancy agreement. As with any legal documentation, it’s important to follow the latest guidelines set by the Government.
As standard, all tenancy agreements must include:
- The property address
- The names of all tenants living in the house, including your own details and whether you co-own the property
- Clearly state the rental price and how it’s paid, including whether or not you plan to use a guarantor
- Information on how and when the rent will be reviewed
- If you’ve asked for a deposit, you must include the amount and how it will be protected, including when the deposit can be fully or partly withheld. For example to repair damage caused by tenants
- The start and end date of the tenancy
- Any tenant or landlord obligations
- Detail which bills your tenants are responsible for
- The landlord notice period, in case you want to end the tenancy early. Landlords can set a notice period that suits them, but this is usually one month. However, regulations can change meaning renters may need a longer notice period, check your local Government website for the latest advice
- The notice period for your tenant, in case they wish to end the tenancy early. On average the notice period a tenant needs to give is one month
- Detail who’s responsible for minor repairs (other than those that the landlord is legally responsible for)
When becoming a landlord, you can decide whether you wish to take a deposit from your tenants. Commonly, most landlords will request for a deposit to be in place when renting to cover any possible mishaps. However, if you’re living in the property or know the tenants, you’re not legally obliged to request a deposit.
If you decide you want to take a deposit from your tenants, then you need to ensure it’s kept in a protected government-approved deposit scheme. You can find suitable deposit schemes here:
7. Landlord document checklist
Before you get your tenants in here are the key documents and information you should share with your new tenants:
- Once you’ve had your safety checks, remember to give a copy of your gas safety certificate to your new tenant.
- If you’ve taken a deposit, you’ll need to have protected it in a scheme. You need to provide your tenant with details of where the deposit is being kept.
- A copy of the energy certificate (EPC) for the property.
- It’s a good idea to give tenants a moving in inventory which includes images and information about each item’s condition. This helps ensure your belongings are not damaged during the tenancy and allows renters to record and identify any existing mishaps in the property, such as marks on the wall.
- You can print off a renting guide for tenants from the Government to help your renters settle in.
- Don’t forget to give your tenants your contact information and any emergency contact details if you’re not available.
Time to hand over the keys
Now you’ve completed the landlord how to guide, all that’s left to do is get the tenants in. If you’ve got home insurance with Sainsbury’s Bank and you’re thinking about renting out part of your home, get in touch to ask us any questions.
This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.