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The Landlord Checklist

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By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Sep 05, 2019

Property maintenance can be one of the most daunting aspects of renting out a home. Handily, with the right checklist, everything becomes a lot easier to manage, If this is your first time, it can end up being a big list which seems easy to put off until tomorrow, but getting things right in the first instance can reduce any drama later on.

If you have been renting out properties for years, it may seem like the idea of a landlord checklist is superfluous, but best practices always change and improve, so it is good to see what the latest suggestions are for keeping tenants and the house happy and healthy. 

To start with, it is important to know the key responsibilities, in terms of what you are expected to cover, and what is a legal requirement as a landlord. Some things might not be regulated for, but other aspects can enhance the longevity of your property when you are renting it out and ensure you have to spend less on repairs and maintenance in the long run. 

Free from hazards

Aside from the financials, the first main point the official government page mandates is to “keep your rented properties safe and free from hazards”. Alongside this, regular testing of all gas and electrical equipment is also a must, as it can prevent any objects from degrading and becoming a serious hazard. Of course, there are plenty of other hazards we do not tend to think about, even when they are in our own home, so it is important to factor in everything else a tenant could encounter in the home, from trip hazards, sharp edges and air quality.

Fire safety

Avoiding fires is naturally going to be one of the highest on the checklist simply because fires can cause such huge and irreversible damage. When a property goes up in flames, it can be an imminent danger to life for a tenant if there are not appropriate fire safety materials in place - so ensure the kitchen is fitted with a fire blanket if possible, and install a fire extinguisher. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should also be installed and tested at least once a year to check everything is still working. While many fires can be prevented, and some are due to carelessness on the part of the tenant, the damage to property can be huge, and every prevention measure will be useful.

Health and safety inspections

There are two reasons a health and safety inspection could be carried out - measured by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) - one could be by the tenant if they suspect aspects of the property are unsafe but do not have the knowledge to show it themselves, and the other is if many houses in the area are afflicted by the same issue, which they then have to check for as a council service. 

In many instances, improvement notices are issued, but when a property is left to greater disrepair, they can either choose to fix it themselves and bill you or disbar people from living in all or some of the property. This kind of legislation shows why it is crucial to fix problems early on before they get bigger, as it can save you from more significant issues further down the line.

Know the legal stuff on repairs

One of the best ways to be popular enough with your tenant to have them respect your rules and wishes and ensure they treat your property with the best care is for you to carry out repairs in a prompt manner. Some repairs can probably wait, but how long it takes to respond to broken items and things that have degraded after wear and tear can indicate how much it seems you care about the property. 

In terms of notice, you have to give your tenants a minimum of 24 hours before you enter the property, unless it is some sort of emergency with the potential to have danger to life, or you have negotiated otherwise. 

Structural aspects of the property will almost always come down to the responsibility of the landlord to fix, remembering that in essence the tenant is in the care of the landlord for some aspects of their health and welfare. Tenants are not expected to be able to carry out anything above basic repairs on their property, and even then, the law maintains they are not mandated to fix these things. When it comes to keeping the house together, it is definitely time for you to step in as a landlord. 

Anything related to sanitary fittings, basins, baths and showers also falls to the landlord. All of these aspects also tend to relate to how healthy the house is and what condition it is, and there are plenty of other fixes you can consider leaving your property in a better state without you having to manage it quite so much. 

According to the UK government, any landlord refusing to carry out clear and basic repairs that relate to the safety of the home and its tenants can be pursued in the small claims courts by the tenants in question, who are also enabled under law to simply repair it themselves and deduct the cost from any outstanding rent. 

Gas safety

Gas safety is becoming something we are all much more aware of these days. General discussions around air pollution and property close to roads means the air quality of some properties in certain areas are already posing health risks to tenants, and this is without appropriate gas safety checks and regulatory enforcements. 

All maintenance aspects fall to the landlord in this case as well, meaning every chimney flue, piece of pipework and connected appliance to the gas mains needs to be regularly tested to ensure it is in working order. Without these checks, it is possible to cause ill health to your tenants simply because they are unwittingly operating tools and appliances that are leaking gas and you have not prevented it.

Of course, making sure you are on top of it need not be so daunting, and following the official guidance of the Gas Safe Register can help put your mind at ease. Thankfully, there are many resources to help people be responsible landlords, and looking deeper into this, especially if you have just picked up an older property with decaying pipework, means you can immediately address the problem in the most effective manner. 

While it is the landlord responsibility to carry out gas safety checks for the property, if a tenant brings in a gas appliance it is up to them to ensure it is in working order, and there is no legal accountability for this - unless they connect to flues in the house which they can argue you should have fixed. A new gas heater, for example, will not be placed under the landlord category. 

Make sure your ventilation is working well

This is one of those aspects which has a number of benefits to take care of and fix at the earliest opportunity. With summer on the way out and the winter months approaching, sorting out your ventilation options is important. For a start, the long-term future of your house can be much more stable if you allow the air to flow through it properly. 

In winter, this becomes much more pronounced, simply because the air is naturally colder, and we tend to generate more heat inside our homes to try and stave off the drop-in temperature. However, if this is not done effectively, it can begin to lead to damp, and a rising amount of water vapour in your property is not a great idea.

When you live there yourself, you can expect to take care of a home how you would know it needs managing - with windows open, effective ventilation, and making sure surfaces are wiped down. However, these are only auxiliary measures that do not tackle the issue at heart, which is why ventilation solutions are perfect for landlords. You can install equipment that does not break your bank but preserves the health of your tenants in the long run and makes sure your house is less likely to fall into disrepair. 

When you come to Envirovent, you can be sure that you are picking the experts in helping you decide which ventilation equipment will suit your property best, no matter the size and your budget. Given that it keeps both your property and your tenants healthier and happier, it seems like a win-win situation. Contact us today to discuss your ventilation needs.