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Agent Advice To Landlords - how to optimise your investment

London-focussed lettings agency Douglas & Gordon gives its rundown on what new landlords should know to get the most out of their investment.

1. Know your safety certificates

There are several certificates and safety reports you need before letting your property. Here are some of the most important:


- Energy Performance Certificates: EPCs last up to 10 years and rate a property's energy efficiency and environmental impact on a scale from A to G. Currently, landlords need an energy efficiency rating of E or above. However, the government's 2050 net-zero emissions target could raise the minimum energy efficiency standards for rentals to C by 2028.

- Electrical Installation Certificate Report: EICRs last up to five years and must be current before the tenancy can begin. To get this report, electricians must test up to 20 per cent of the property's wiring, including sockets and lights. Depending on the number of rooms your property has, the cost of the EICR will vary between £120 to £350.

- Portable Appliance Testing: You must also ensure that all your portable appliances are safe before your tenant arrives. You can record this via Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), and it only needs to take place once a year.

- Gas Safety Certificate: Gas equipment should be safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The certificate lasts for one year and tenants should be provided with a copy before movie in. Tenants cannot move in if we do not have a valid Gas Safety Record, all appliances must be safe to use or capped where relevant.


2. Get a license

If you are a landlord, you may need a license to rent your property. Licenses can last up to five years, and you will need to give your agent a copy of the license or proof of application before the tenancy starts.

- Mandatory House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO): It applies nationwide and is required when you have five or more occupants from two or more households. Planning permission is required where you have seven or more occupants from two or more households.

- Additional HMO Licensing: This depends on your property's council and applies to properties with three or more occupants from two or more households.

- Selective Licensing: Also council dependent, selective licensing can be affected by the street the property is located on.


3. Pay attention to furniture & furnishings

Furniture and Furnishing (Fire Safety) Regulations are in place to ensure that all upholstered furniture, furnishings, and other products containing upholstery have the correct labels and meet the regulations for renting.


4. Test smoke and carbon alarms regularly

Most residential and commercial properties have smoke and carbon alarms, but how many actually work? On average, one in eight house fires that Fire and Rescue Services attend don’t have a working smoke alarm.

Ideally, both alarms should be tested each week, and batteries should be changed annually. Before your tenancy agreement begins, you must ensure you have a working smoke alarm on every storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where solid fuel is used. It is recommended that a carbon alarm be present in any room where there is a gas appliance. All alarms have to be in working order on the start day of the tenancy and be retest when there is a change of tenants.

5. Focus on the things you can control

There are 2.56 million landlords in the UK, and the residential sector can be competitive. You can't control some things, so it's essential to focus on the things you can, such as the maintenance and cleanliness of your property. This plays a massive role in influencing a potential tenant’s decision and attracting the type of tenants you can enjoy a long and rewarding relationship with.


6. Keep your water safe

As a landlord, you must ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to avoid the stagnation of water, as this can result in the growth of Legionella. Testing can be done by ordering a Legionella Water Testing Kit. Preventative methods can also include: 

- Flushing out the system before letting the property;

- Avoiding debris getting into the system by having a tight-fitting lid over the cold-water tanks;

- Setting control parameters to ensure your hot water cylinder is regulated at 60 degrees Celsius;

- Removing redundant pipework.


7. You don’t have to do it all

Being a landlord can be extremely rewarding, but the checklists and regulations can be challenging. But you don't have to do it all. Property management companies can make renting your property a straightforward process for you and your tenants. From creating tenancy agreements, organising safety checks and putting together end of tenancy claims, having an expert on your side can take all the stress out of the process.

* Douglas & Gordon has been a prominent London lettings agency since 1958 *

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