Providing key information at the start of a tenancy will help your tenant feel at home…
“Before a tenant moves into a property there are several essential things that they will need to know,” says owner of Belvoir Evesham Melanie Carter. “Among these are contact details for all the people who they may need to get in touch with during the tenancy.
“Are you self-managing the property or is an agent doing this on your behalf? Make sure your tenant knows who their point of contact is, plus specific details, such as a phone number and email address. If possible, also provide an out-of-hours contact number so they can reach someone during an emergency.
“Some landlords may also provide details of the tradespeople they regularly use, such as a plumber, boiler engineer and electrician. These tradespeople are likely to be visiting the property during the tenancy and it can be helpful for your tenant to know their details in advance. Please note, if you don’t want your tenant commissioning work without your knowledge make sure you make them aware of this too.
“Most of the key contact details are likely to appear in the tenancy agreement but it’s also useful to put together a typed directory of these so that they are easily accessible for whenever they are needed. Provide a hard copy and email the list to your tenant too.”
“Before a tenant moves into your property they will need to pay a deposit and there are a few things that you’ll need to make them aware of regarding this,” says owner of Belvoir Swansea Ben Davies.
“It is important that their deposit is registered legally either by the agent or the landlord if you are letting the property privately.
“The deposit will then be held and protected until the tenant moves out of the property at the end of the tenancy. Provided the tenant looks after the property they will have their deposit returned to them.
“Some of the reasons a tenant may lose their deposit, either in part or full, are if they don’t leave the property how they found it, if they don’t maintain the garden or if they have caused damage to the property. If a tenant does cause accidental damage during the tenancy they should report it immediately rather than leave the issue until they leave in order to prevent it growing into a larger problem.
“Make sure your tenant knows all of the above information before the tenancy begins in order to avoid deposit disputes when it ends.”
“In most rental situations a tenant is responsible not only for the rent but also for paying the utility bills, such as gas, electric, water, phone bills, internet, TV licence and council tax,” says Ben. “Make sure your tenant is aware of this.
“At Belvoir Swansea we carry out an inventory before the tenancy begins and, as part of this, we will take the metre readings. We will then write to the utility companies with the tenant’s name and the tenancy start date so that the utility companies can contact the tenant and set up the account with them directly. A tenant may be able to change suppliers if they wish but they should keep the landlord or agent in the loop so records can be updated.
“Therefore, before a tenant moves into the property make sure they know who the utility companies are, the exact metre readings and that it will be their responsibility to pay the bills when they arrive.”
Dates in the diary
“Throughout the tenancy you will need to have access to the property for inspections,” says Melanie. “This is likely to be once every three months.
“Before the tenancy begins let your tenant know that this will be the case and outline what you will do during your visit, how long it is likely to take and what you’re expectations of them will be. This is particularly pertinent if the tenant has never rented before.
“It is helpful if your tenant is present during the inspection because they may bring to your attention small issues that they may otherwise not report. Plus, it will give you an opportunity to ask any questions you may have, as well as answering any of their own.
“If possible, co-ordinate diaries and pre-schedule times that are convenient for you both. If your tenant is unable to commit to several future dates at this stage, try and book in the first visit as a minimum – and during this first inspection you can liaise about suitable dates for the next one.”
“When tenants move into a property they are each given a full set of keys and we will keep a record of what we have given to them,” says Ben. “Make sure the tenant is aware of what their responsibilities are regarding these.
“At Belvoir Swansea a photocopy is taken of the keys at the start of the tenancy which is then signed by the tenant. At the end of the tenancy we expect those keys to come back to us.
“It is important that the tenant looks after the keys while they are in their possession. If they lose a key, for example, they will be responsible for any costs involved, such as changing the locks.
“If there are many keys in the set (such as front and back door keys, a letterbox key, a shed key and a number of window keys) and it’s not immediately obvious what each key is for, it may also be worth pointing this out before the tenancy begins.”
Around and about
“At the start of the tenancy it can be helpful to supply information about the neighbourhood and local amenities,” says Melanie. “This is particularly useful if your tenant is new to the area.
“Offer them key information about the local schools, shops and restaurants, plus provide maps too if you can. The location of the nearest bus stop to the property and a current bus timetable is also useful.”
What are your tenant’s hobbies and interests? Do you know? If so, tailor the information you offer to their specific needs.
If they are a walking enthusiast, for example, perhaps provide information about interesting public pathways. If they are a keen sportsperson, maybe supply information about the nearest gym and its fees. Some thoughtful landlords even supply a number of their favourite takeaway menus too!
“Providing useful information like this will help your tenant settle into their new environment with ease, plus lay the foundations for a good landlord/tenant relationship before the tenancy even begins,” concludes Melanie.
A warm welcome
Some landlords compile a ‘move in’ pack for their tenants in order to make key information accessible. This could include:
√ A copy of the tenancy agreement
√ A copy of the standing order mandate
√ Information about their deposit and its protection
√ The inventory
√ Utility supplier information and readings
√ Key receipts
√ Details of vital contacts and a list of emergency numbers
√ Local area information and maps
√ Location of the nearest bus stop and a current timetable
√ A copy of the gas safety certificate
Article Courtesy of Belvoir Lettings