Tenancy Timeline

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General tips and guidance with links to Landlord Law content.  

Check out all the things you need to be doing as a landlord.  Are you fully compliant?  

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Stage

Action points

Links to Landlord Law Content

Notes

1.
Preparatory stage

  • Get property in tip top condition
  • Ensure electrical appliances are safe and get PAT testing done if necessary
  • Ensure furniture is compliant
  • Do fire risk assessment
  • Get EPC
  • Get Gas Safety Check done
  • Install smoke & Co alarms
  • Do Legionella risk assessment
  • Sign up to Deposit Protection Company
  • Research Inventory companies and select a suitable company to work with
  • Notify your insurers and mortgage company (if you are not on a buy-to-let mortgage)

It is important that all these things are dealt with before the tenant moves in as there may be problems gaining access later.

If you take a deposit it is crucial that there is an accurate inventory report and ideally this should be prepared by someone independent.

This is why we recommend an inventory clerking company (if you use an agent they will normally deal with this for you).

Things to consider:

  • What type of tenancy will it be?
  • Will it be an HMO?
  • Will you let them keep pets?
  • Will you be letting to students?
  • Will you be paying the bills?

The type of tenancy affects your rights and also the type of tenancy agreement you use - so you need to know this.

Also if you rent to people sharing who are not family - there is a good chance this is an HMO and you will need to comply with additional regulations.  It is best to find out about this before you rent - or you could end up being prosecuted.
 

Welsh Dragon Welsh Landlords need to be aware that landlord & tenant law will be changing in Wales when the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 comes into force.  In the meantime, many of the new regulations in England are not applicable to Wales.

Note that ALL landlords of property in Wales and all Welsh letting agents need to register with Rent Smart Wales.

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Stage

Action points

Links to Landlord Law Content

Notes

2.
Choosing letting agents

  • Check that they have client money protection and are a member of SafeAgent
  • Chose regulated agents if possible
  • Find out as much as possible before using them - it may be difficult to move to another agent later.
As you are bound by everything your agent does re-renting your property - even if it is something you told them not to do - you need to great care when choosing an agent..  

We also have a guide to help you if you are unhappy with your agent - which may be useful if you want to move (and also for agents to help landlords move to them!).

Note that the rest of this timeline will be on the basis that you will be managing the property rather than your agent

Things to consider:

  • Price - note that cheapest may not be the best 
Our guide will help you to decide whether using an agent would be better for your situation.  
Welsh Dragon Note: agents in Wales will need to be registered with Rent Smart Wales and be licensed (for which they will need to have undergone training).  Do not use an unlicensed firm.

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Stage

Action points

Links to Landlord Law Content

Notes

3.
Choosing tenants

  • Ensure advert is accurate
  • Get tenant to complete a tenant information form
  • Check all tenants carefully and follow up  references
  • Get a credit check done
  • Check ID and that they have the right to rent
  • Be aware of consumer legislation

 

Choosing a good tenant is the single most important things when renting property so it is worth taking some trouble to get it right.

It could take you months to evict them if you get things wrong.

Under consumer law you are required to behave fairly -  eg tenants now have stronger rights to end tenancies if they have been deliberately  mislead.  

Things to consider:

  • Watch out for scammers and criminals - remember that con men are very persuasive, that's their job!
Listen to your 'gut feeling' and don't allow yourself to be rushed or take on tenants without proper referencing and checking.
Welsh Dragon Note that at present the Right to Rent checks do not apply in Wales.

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Stage

Action points

Links to Landlord Law Content

Notes

4.
Preparing paperwork

  • Tenancy Agreement - ensure it is appropriate for your tenancy
  • Deed of guarantee if appropriate (get it signed in advance of tenancy agreement signing)
  • Standing order form
  • Meter readings letter
  • Housing Benefit letter of authority (for tenants on benefit)
  • Tenancy Deposit Prescribed information notice
  • In most cases you will also need to serve an EPC, Gas Safety Certificate and the How to Rent Booklet
  • If tenants are on benefit, consider getting them to pay via a Credit Union or Tasker payment services
The Private Rented Sector is now heavily regulated and it is important that your paperwork is perfect.

Take care to get things right and then store them somewhere you will be able to find them easily if needed.

Note that if you accept tenants on benefit - you  are advised to require them to set up an account with a Credit Union or Tasker Payment Services as this will ensure that your rent is paid to you.

Things to consider:

  • Be careful completing forms - these are legal documents and should be accurate.
Your tenancy paperwork may one day (if you are unlucky) be scrutinised by a Judge in court proceedings.  So take care.
Welsh Dragon At Landlord Law we have different tenancy agreements for properties in England and Wales.  Note that in Wales the new rules under the Deregulation Act 2015 requiring service of EPCs, Gas safety certificates and the How to Rent booklet do not apply.

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Stage

Action points

Links to Landlord Law Content

Notes

5.
Signing up tenants

  • Ensure ALL paperwork is signed before you hand over the keys
  • Arrange for your inventory clerk to check the property with them, ideally on or before the day that they move in
  • You will also need to check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working on the first day of the tenancy
Note you need a detailed inventory signed by the tenants or prepared by an independent inventory - otherwise it will be difficult if not impossible to succeed  at adjudication if any deposit deductions care challenged by your tenants.

Things to consider

  • Have all right to rent checks been done?
  • Have you got the first rent payment and deposit in cleared funds?
  • Has everything been properly signed?
  Now is the landlords 'moment of power'.  This will be lost as soon as the tenants have moved in.  
Welsh Dragon The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations do not apply in Wales.

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Stage

Action points

Links to Landlord Law Content

Notes

6.
Shortly after the tenants have moved in

  • Get a signed copy of the inventory from the tenants if this has not already been done
  • Make sure that the deposit is protected and the prescribed information is served on the tenants within the 30 day time limit
  • Get any agreed work done promptly
If you have agreed with the tenants that things will be done when they move in, it could be grounds to end the tenancy under the 'unwinding' provisions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if they are not done.

Things to consider

  • For tenancies which started on or after 1 October 2015 you are not able to serve a s21 notice during the first 4 months of the tenancy.
  • Note if you have allowed occupiers paying rent into occupation without signing a tenancy agreement first - they WILL now have a legal tenancy.  
It used to be common practice to serve a 'precautionary' section 21 notice - this is now no longer possible.

Tenancies without a written tenancy agreements are NOT a good idea!

Welsh Dragon Note that the s21 time limits in the Deregulation Act 2015 do not apply so Welsh landlords can serve a s21 notice at the start as a precautionary measure if they wish (at the moment).

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Stage

Action points

Links to Landlord Law Content

Notes

7.
During the tenancy

  • Carry out regular inspection visits
  • Do repairs as necessary
  • Do the annual gas safety check when required
  • Respond to tenants requests as appropriate but otherwise
  • Leave them alone
  • If you are approached about changing joint tenants make sure you follow the correct procedure
If your tenant will not let you in to do the annual gas safety check - note that there is a separate Kit you can get - find out more here

 

Things to consider:

  • In most cases if tenants refuse access - you cannot enter, even if it is for a lawful reason allowed under the tenancy agreement
  • Deal with rent arrears promptly
  • If you decide you need to evict the tenant - Landlord Law has extensive online help for you
  • If the tenants appear to have moved out BE VERY CAREFUL about going in and changing the locks
Unlawful access is a top (and justified) complaint by tenants. It may justify them changing the locks.

If your tenant falls into arrears of rent it is ESSENTIAL this is dealt with promptly.  The Rent Arrears Action Plan has extensive help, forms and letters. 

Note that if the tenants are in hospital, on a long holiday or in jail - the property may appear abandoned - but if you go in and change the locks you could be subject to  compensation claims and be prosecuted for unlawful eviction.  

Welsh Dragon The items discussed here all apply to Wales.

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Stage

Action points

Links to Landlord Law Content

Notes

8.
Shortly before the fixed term ends


You will want to start doing the following in the last 2 months of the tenancy:
  • Review the tenancy and decide whether you will wish to renew
  • Contact the tenant about renewal and any rent increase
  • Check to see that guarantors will be willing to sign a new deed of guarantee, or
  • Serve section 21 notice if you decide not to renew
  • If the tenants are vacating - arrange for final inspection so any deductions from the deposit can be agreed
If you are happy with the terms of your current tenancy agreement and the same tenants will be in the property you can renew with our renewal form.

Note that any guarantee deeds signed will no longer be enforceable if there are any changes - in particular if the rent is increased or if a new tenant joins the tenancy.  So you will need to get guarantors to sign new forms.

Things to consider:

If you decide to serve a section 21 notice - make sure you have complied with all pre-requisites

Consider getting Joanna White's cleaning videos so tenants know the proper way to clean.

Cleaning Videos Judges are very fussy about the s21 rules so you need to get them right.

NB If you have forgotten to protect the deposit and need to serve a section 21 notice see Tessa's separate Deposit Error Repair Kit.

Welsh Dragon Note that the new rules re section 21 under the Deregulation Act 2015 do not apply in Wales.

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Stage

Action points

Links to Landlord Law Content

Notes

9.
At the end of the fixed term

If tenants are remaining:
  • Arrange for the tenants to sign the new tenancy agreement and
  • Get guarantors to sign the new guarantee
  • Check to see if you need to re-serve the 'How to Rent' Booklet
  • Check if you need to re-do right to rent checks
  • If tenants are remaining under a periodic tenancy, consider increasing the rent by notice

If the tenancy is to end

  • Arrange checkout inspection with tenant, or
  • Commence eviction proceedings if they fail to vacate

If you need to evict tenants:

Note that if tenants remain in the property after the end of the fixed term, and no new fixed term agreement is signed - they will have a periodic tenancy.

This happens automatically.  Tenants are entitled to live in the property indefinitely until either they move out or they are evicted under a Court Order.

Rent for periodic tenancies can be increased using the prescribed notice procedure (s13 of the Housing Act 1988) every 12 months.

There is extensive guidance and help for landlords on eviction of tenants, including our DIY Court Eviction Guide.

Things to consider:

Are you sure the tenants will leave when they say they will?   You need to be very careful about signing up new tenants before the current tenants have vacated.  If they refuse to leave (which they are entitled to do) you will be in breach of contract and liable to the incoming tenants for compensation.  

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Stage

Action points

Links to Landlord Law Content

Notes

10.
After the tenants have vacated

  • Check the property thoroughly
  • Deal with any cleaning / redecoration / repair work needed
  • Do any necessary repair work / PAT certificates
  • Deal with refund of deposit to tenant or deduction as appropriate
  • Start the process again!
   

Things to consider:

If there is a dispute over deposit deductions you may need to refer this to adjudication   There is an excellent ebook on deposit adjudications 'How to Win Deposit Disputes' available from the Your Law Store website.

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