Getting off to a good start!

Julie Woolfenden, NLA Local Representative for Shropshire and North Wales, explains how to set up the perfect tenancy; the property, the law, the rent and the little perks!

Renting is becoming the preferred choice of tenure for more and more people. Even Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, having tied the knot in a spectacular ceremony at Westminster Abbey are now renting a cottage on Anglesey where William is serving 3 years as a Search and Rescue Helicopter Pilot at RAF Valley.

However, Royal or not, there are still certain things that a Landlord/Tenant relationship needs for the successful creation of a new tenancy.

During my years as a landlord renting properties to families, I have developed a set of procedures for starting a tenancy – from when my new prospective tenant(s) first views the house to the day when (s)he finally moves in and I hand over the keys.

Firstly, the property needs to be ready; everything spick and span and in full working order together with the Gas Safety Certificate, the EPC to hand and a robust inventory.

If the prospective tenant views and is interested in my property I give them the EPC and an explanation of what it is, as in my experience, tenants rarely know about them.

We then discuss:-

a)      The rent – Working tenant versus benefit tenant and how / when the rent will be paid.

b)      Deposit – A quick explanation about protecting it.

c)       References – Absolutely vital and if a Guarantor is involved they need to be credit referenced as well.

If everything is OK, I issue the tenancy agreement (in duplicate) usually a few days in advance of the agreed start date of the tenancy, giving the tenant an opportunity to read it. If they are claiming benefits the Housing Benefit Office will need a copy prior to the beginning of the tenancy.

As for paperwork when the tenant moves in: Two signed copies of the tenancy agreement, key receipts, utility meter readings, receipts for the Gas Certificate and EPC and the signed inventory. To safeguard myself and supplement the inventory I usually take an audio video, with the tenant in shot, showing the house and the garden. I make two CD copies – the tenant keeps one and signs for it. The tenant also has one copy of all the paperwork and I keep the other.

I also demonstrate how things work; especially the heating and hot water. I tell them where the cold water stop cock is and leave instruction manuals for all appliances. Other useful information I pass on to my tenants is when bin day is and if the electricity / gas is on a card meter where they can go to get the card topped up.

Finally, a card welcoming them to their new home (or even a bottle of wine) is a nice gesture and I find tenants really appreciate it.

I give the tenant my contact details and explain the deposit will be protected and that I will let them have all the relevant paperwork shortly.

About a week into their tenancy I give them a quick ring just to check they are settling in OK.

2 thoughts on “Getting off to a good start!

  1. Thank you for that Julie, I agree with everything that you have said and inparticular how organised you are about the paperwork. The right piece of paper can save a lot of misunderstandings during the tenancy and particularly at the end when there might be a discussion about the deposit. I give the manufacturers In Use and Safety instructions with everthing that I supply, including the Central Heating system. I note on my inventory that this has been supplied and I offer to demonstrate everything so that I have the “right” to expect everything to be used “in a tenant like manner” and returned in good order at the end of the tenancy. I think that misunderstandings account for a lot of disputes between a landlord and tenant and making your expectation clear at the outset can avoid unrealistic expectations on both sides.

    I also give emergency numbers for my gas man, plumber and electrician (with their permission and having made it clear to them that they must report to me any misuse on the part of the tenant and get approval if the job is going to cost over an agreed amount) I tell my tenants to try to contact me first but if I do not get back to them with 2 hours (immeditately if there is an emergency) to call one of my contractors. This avoids big call out fees and uncertain standards of work from unknown contractors.

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