Making sure of your mortgage provider
MAKE sure your mortgage provider knows you are renting the property and if it is leasehold, that the freeholder is also aware.
Have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) drawn up by someone qualified to do it. You can buy standard agreements, but it helps to have one tailored to your specific needs. You should keep a copy of the signed AST. If you don't, obtaining possession could be more difficult and more expensive.
Take a detailed inventory of all the items in the property and get the tenant to agree and sign it.
If a deposit is to be paid, this must be paid into a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). Failure to do so could result in a penalty of up to 3 times the value of the deposit. You must also provide the tenant with prescribed information regarding the TDS within 30 days of receiving the deposit.
If you do not already have one, obtain a Gas Safety Certificate. This can only be provided by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer and needs be renewed every 12 months.
Obtain an Energy Performance Certificate from a registered assessor. A copy of this must be given to the tenant free of charge.
Make sure all your furniture complies with fire regulations. If the furniture does comply there should be a label on it confirming that this is the case.
You must give proper Notice of the end of the tenancy, of at least two months. The Notice must also end at the same date as the end of a period of the tenancy. It is worth getting legal advice to ensure the Notice is in the proper form. If the tenant refuses to move out on the due date, you can apply to the court for a Possession Order. As long as the Notice is in the correct form, you have a signed copy of the AST and evidence that any deposit has been paid into a TDS, the Court will grant the order, as there is no defence.
You have to instruct the court bailiffs to evict the tenant, don't try it yourself. Changing the locks or threatening the tenant is illegal and can result in a substantial fine and claim for damages.
You can apply for a Possession Order based on rent arrears. However, this requires a court hearing and the tenant to seek to raise a defence. Alternatively, you could issue a money claim after possession has been obtained. Again, don't try any strong-arm stuff yourself!
Eastleys (and other solicitors) have wide experience of drafting tenancy agreements and taking possession proceedings, if in doubt.