Published: 19/12/2011 By Peter BarryWhen it comes to renting out a property, it isn’t simply a case of giving the place a spring clean and taking a few nice photos: there’s whole list of legal requirements and presentation issues to deal with before you hand the keys over to your new tenants.
Gas and electricity checks
You will need to have a gas safety certificate issued before you can rent out your property. Broken down boilers and dodgy radiators are a constant gripe amongst tenants so make sure your central heating is in good working order. The last thing you want is to get off to a shaky start with your tenants, so avoid the need for them to report issues within the first few days, especially during the colder months of a year.
Most tenants would expect to have a fridge/freezer and washing machine as standard. If you’re not intending to supply your property with these included, then make sure this is obvious in the details. If there’s space for a dishwasher, you might want to think about installing one, it would be a great selling point for the agent if a dishwasher was to be installed. If you don’t, your tenants have every right to ask to install one themselves and wouldn’t you rather use a plumber you know and trust to do the work in the first place?
Fittings and furnishings
A fully furnished property won’t necessarily earn you extra rental income. In fact, a lot of people prefer a flat to be unfurnished or part-furnished (perhaps a sofa, beds and wardrobes), especially if they already own their own furniture. However, if you are letting the property furnished then make sure the furniture is up to scratch. Shabby, mismatched pieces, cobbled together from garage sales, won’t impress potential tenants. They’d rather see a newly painted, impeccably clean but unfurnished property than one that has been filled up with other people’s unwanted junk. Stick to plain colours and try to buy lightweight furniture that can easily be moved around or removed completely if future tenants don’t need it. Beds are often cited as the most personal possession a tenant owns so try to be flexible if a tenant is interested in supplying their own.
The smell of fresh paint
Nothing gives a property a clean, looked-after feel like a coat of fresh paint. Stick to neutral shades that appeal to everyone and get a professional to do the job, unless you’re very handy with a paintbrush. If you don’t want to re-carpet between tenancies, then at least book a carpet cleaner to get rid of any stains, or to spruce up tired carpets before your new tenants move in.
Light and bright
No one wants to feel like they’re living in a cave so anything you can do to accentuate the sense of space and light will add to the appeal of your property – replace drab curtains with light-coloured roller blinds, give the windows a good clean, and choose light floor coverings. It’s a small detail but check that all the light bulbs work before you start viewings.
If it’s broke, fix it
Broken furniture, chipped crockery and dented woodwork are a real turn-off for potential tenants – it’s a sign that you don’t care, and that’s not going to instil a great deal of confidence. Repair or replace broken or damaged furniture and you’ll attract a more discerning tenant.
Don’t get so caught up on the interior of the property that you neglect the overflowing bins, the squeaky gate and the broken doorbell – first impressions count.
The capability for high-speed internet connection is a bonus – indeed it’s pretty much expected these days. If there’s a service provider already set up with a potential connection to the property, so much the better.
Be upfront about costs – if you require a professional cleaning service at the end of the tenancy, make that clear from the outset.
No one expects it if it’s not in the property details, but if your flat does come with a small garden make sure it’s presentable – this is a major selling point so sell it!
If the property can be configured in different ways to suit different potential tenants, make this clear on viewings, and on the property details. For example, a second reception could be used as a bedroom
Finally, always have an inventory prepared that your tenants check and sign on moving in day. This isn’t as vital if your property is unfurnished but even things like blinds, lampshades and movable white goods should be listed as well as the condition and cleanliness of each item. Especially important for the purposes deducting monies from the deposit under the terms of the Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes.