Becoming a landlord has gained in popularity. Since interest rates for savers have fallen, investing in bricks and mortar has proven to be a more reliable investment in recent years.
This guide has been put together by Hunters Harrogate to help you get to grips with collating the numerous legal documents that you will have to get organised before letting out your property, as well as considering some of the current property prices in Harrogate should you be looking to embark onto a buy-to-rent venture.
Are you thinking about letting your property in Harrogate? The set-up process is not always straightforward, but if you get everything right the first time, then you will be saving yourself a lot of headaches and hassle further down the line.
There are many things to consider when preparing to let your Harrogate property – the earnings, the costs, health and safety regulations and right to rent laws to name but a few. You’ll have to get on top of all of these things – and more – when setting out to let your property, and this guide from Hunters Harrogate has been put together to help you do just that.
Preparing Your Property
Renters are as discerning as buyers – and first impressions count. So, you need to take the time to ensure that your property is looking ship-shape from the inside to the out – maintaining this appearance will give you the best chance of letting your property at the best possible price.
Begin by considering the external view of your property. Keep all rubbish and bins out of sight. If there’s a garden, make sure it’s not overgrown, is weeded, and generally looking as tidy as can be. The same goes for the path up to the front door. Make any reparations to cracks, holes, or other blemishes in advance, and if the doors or window frames need a lick of paint, supply it.
The outside appearance will secure a good first impression, but this will soon slide if you don’t maintain similar standards for viewers once they set foot inside.
You need to de-clutter all rooms to create the appearance of additional space. Make sure the whole house has been cleaned and hoovered recently prior to any viewings. If there are any minor repairs that need doing – leaky taps, cracked tiles, blown light bulbs etc. – then see to them. You can probably do the minor stuff yourself, but if there is any serious disrepair or major damage from damp or such like, then you will need to invest in having these faults professionally repaired before you embark upon finding tenants or you will struggle.
Health and Safety
To protect your tenants from injury, and yourself from being sued or prosecuted, there are a number of health and safety guidelines to which you must adhere when letting your property.
Landlords are required by law to service all gas-related equipment once every 12 months at the very least, keep records of regular checks, and provide tenants with an annual gas safety certificate as issued by Gas Safe. Furthermore, you must also provide your tenants with sets of instructions detailing the safe use of all gas-dependent equipment and appliances.
Electric Safety and Other Requirements
Any wiring that is more than 15 years old must be inspected and tested for safety on an annual basis. More recent wiring can be left for longer, though best practice is to have it checked just as frequently. Make contact with an electrician approved by the National Inspection Council for Electrical Inspection Contractors.
You are also required to ensure that the property has enough sockets to meet the needs of tenants, and any electrical equipment that you provide for tenants – toasters, kettles etc. – must also be tested and labelled accordingly. Keep all records of tests.
Any furniture and/or furnishings that you provide for your tenants must meet guidelines set under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Amendment Regulations. You can check items for fire safety standards by looking for the permanent labels that state what regulation they conform to.
When letting your property in Harrogate, also consider your obligations concerning the Right To Rent legislation, ensure that your insurance is updated for letting, that you have requisite permission from your mortgage lender, and that you have informed the council’s environmental health department.
The most important document of letting any property is the tenancy agreement. This is the legally binding contract between you as the landlord and your tenants, and will form as the conditions of the let.
The most common form of tenancy agreement is the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST). This agreement will set out the rights of both the landlord and the tenant, the most important aspect being that the landlord will have the right to repossess the property at the end of the agreed term of tenancy.
Even though the title of this agreement refers to a ‘shorthold tenancy’, there in fact is no maximum length of time to which the agreement will hold true – that is to say that an AST will be good to continue for as long as both landlord and tenant wish it to do so. However, if the fixed term exceeds three years, then a solicitor must be employed to draw up a deed.
There is no minimum term that is specified, though the tenant has the right to remain in the property for at least six months.
As the landlord, you will normally be required to give at least two months’ notice if you wish to terminate the agreement.
The most important information that the AST will contain includes the following:
Landlord’s full name
Tenant’s full name
Address of property
The date when the tenancy will commence
The duration of the tenancy
The amount of rent payable, including details of how and when it should be paid
What other payments are expected of the tenant, including utilities bills and Council Tax
Another crucially important document in the letting process is the landlord inventory. Here is where you will detail the contents of your property, including the condition that everything is in. When your tenants move in, both landlord and tenant will sign the document, agreeing on the condition of all contents of the property. It is then expected that the tenant will leave everything as they found it when the time comes to vacate. All parties must have a copy of this agreement to avoid any discrepancies of damage later on.
Most landlords will demand a deposit from their tenants before moving in. This money is there to protect the landlord from any damage that the tenant may cause to any items on the inventory (beyond normal wear and tear), or in the case that the tenant leaves without paying rent.
Landlords must provide the tenant with a receipt of their deposit, as well as a document detailing exactly what the deposit is for. If you decide to withhold any of the deposit when the tenancy reaches termination, you must notify the tenant as soon as possible in writing, providing evidence of receipts and/or estimates of costs incurred to repair damage. Otherwise, the full deposit must be returned to the tenant within a reasonable period of time (typically one month) following the final day of tenancy.
For further information on providing health and safety documentation see our Lettings Guide.
Property Prices in Harrogate
Currently, the average value given on all properties in Harrogate over the past 12 months stands at £319,433 (up 0.99%).
By property type, the average values of Harrogate houses break down like this:
£498,719 (up 0.95%)
£276,559 (up 3.76%)
£234,837 (up 1.02%)
£227,452 (up 2.71%)