Effective property management is essential for both landlords and tenants, ensuring a smooth and positive rental experience for both parties. This guide covers all aspects of property management from finding and screening tenants to handling repairs and complying with legal requirements. Read on to discover expert insights on the entire tenancy process, including information on pre-tenancy checks, right to rent, and the repossession process.

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Section 1: The basics of property management

Having an efficient property management team and process is key to a successful letting agency business. Landlords are won, upsold and lost based on how well their properties are managed, making this a key component in increasing revenue, justifying management fees, and ensuring your agency beats the competition to work with landlords.


What is property management and why does it matter?

Property management is, as the name would suggest, the managing of any property, whether it’s owned by yourself or by someone else. Residential letting agents are responsible for managing a portfolio of properties on behalf of their landlords. This means that, depending on the type of service offered, they can be responsible for advertising the property as available for rent, finding the tenants to live in the property, ensuring any deposits and checks are taken before the tenant moves in, collecting rent, liaising with the landlord, and managing maintenance. That’s a lot! Along with all this, there is a minefield of regulation around managing a property, which is why a landlord will often instruct a letting agent to do this on their behalf. 

This gives an insight into why a trustworthy property management service is so important. The property management services you offer can be the reason a landlord chooses your business over a competitor. The better you are at managing your clients’ properties, the more instructions you’ll win, and the more successful your business will be as a result.

What property management services do agents typically offer?

Most letting agents offer two types of property management to their landlords: let only and fully managed.

In a let only service, the agent only finds and places tenants on behalf of the landlord. The agent is usually responsible for the marketing of the property, carrying out viewings, reference checks, the move-in process, and the collection of rent and deposit money.

All other aspects of the management of the property fall under the remit of the landlord. The landlord is responsible for dealing with repairs and maintenance issues, safety checks, and the move-out process.

Most agents charge for a let only service via a one-off payment at the beginning of the tenancy, making it a more cost-effective solution for a landlord, though one that offers fewer services.

A let only service can offer risks for landlords depending on their knowledge of property legislation and their responsibilities. For this reason it may be less attractive to accidental and non-professional landlords.

A fully managed service, on the other hand, is one in which the letting agent carries out all aspects of property management on behalf of the landlord. This includes everything listed above, with the letting agent being the point of contact for all maintenance issues.
A fully managed service is more time-consuming in comparison to a let only one, allowing a letting agent to charge a higher fee, and one that is recurring, rather than a one-off payment.

Most agents attempt to upsell their landlords from a let only service to a fully managed one —whilst the manpower and time spent on a fully managed property is greater than a let only one, it is a more profitable service for an agency.

Different types of landlords

Landlords can come in many shapes and forms. Some landlords are ‘accidental’ landlords, where they may have inherited a property or moved in with a partner, and therefore, have a property they wish you to rent out. Others are ‘portfolio’ landlords, who have specifically purchased properties in order to rent them out. This is known as buy-to-let. You may even be managing properties on behalf of a developer, known as a build-to-rent provider, who has a large block of flats with rented units within.

As you can imagine, each of these landlords is likely to have different requirements and expectations, so it’s important to factor these in here. Some landlords may expect regular catch-ups and reports from you, whereas some may be a lot more hands-off.




Section 2: Rental ready: Ensure your property is safe and compliant

Ensuring your property is safe and properly licensed helps you put your best foot forward at the beginning of a new tenancy, but staying compliant with HHSRS and property licensing requirements is easier said than done. That’s why we’ve put all the essential information you need to nail pre-tenancy together in one place. Ready for a hassle-free tenant experience? Read on.


Property inventory checklist 

First things first, you need to make sure your property is fit for purpose. Doing an inventory check after the previous tenant leaves helps to give a clear picture of what work may need to be done on the property. This is also helpful information for your prospective next tenant, giving them a good idea of what the property provides and if it comes furnished or unfurnished (meaning no unpleasant surprises for anyone involved!). 

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HHSRS checklist

What does HHSRS mean?

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk-based assessment tool which is used by environmental health officers to assess the risk (including the likelihood and severity) of hazards to the health and safety of occupants or visitors in residential housing.

Next stop: health and safety. The HHSRS exists to make sure all rental properties in the UK are “fit for human habitation.” It’s absolutely vital that you meet HHSRS standards in order to stay legally compliant, avoid fines, and maintain healthy tenant relationships. 

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There are a couple of other health and safety checks you need to undertake with a contractor before renting a property. Here’s the complete list of legally required checks: 

  • Gas safety check
  • EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report)
  • Boiler service (best practice)
  • Portable appliance testing (PAT testing) of any provided appliances (best practice in England and Wales, legally required in Scotland).
  • Install and test smoke and CO2 alarms. 


HMO and property licensing guide 

Are you letting a property with multiple bedrooms? If so, consider licensing it as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). An HMO licence allows you to rent properties out to multiple different households at once, opening it up to young professionals, house shares and even students. 

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Final checks

Once you have all your information and licensing in place, be sure to keep evidence of all your work, including certificates and inventory checks. These will come in handy throughout the tenancy and when it’s time for your new tenants to move on. Before you start looking for a tenant, here are some important final checks you need to undertake:

  • Does everything work? Make sure anything that needs fixing is either repaired by the time tenants move in or has a planned maintenance date. 
  • When do your certificates expire? Make a note of when all your safety checks need to be renewed and get ahead of planned assessments. 
  • How does the property exterior look? While the property is uninhabited, seize the opportunity to take care of any outdoor maintenance.


Listing your property

When advertising your property it’s important to use the correct terminology. It is a legal requirement that the property be described as accurately as possible  — including timely updates and clear language that will help to direct your prospective tenant. Check out the National Trading Standard Association’s guide to lettings terminology to make sure you’re keeping up with best practices. 

Once you’ve got your documents ready and the home is ready for habitation, it’s time for your next step: finding the right tenant. Check out section two for more information on how you can find the right people for your property. 

Section 3: Pre-tenancy procedures: What you must do to follow the law

Before you can move tenants in and start a tenancy, there is a wide range of checks that need to be carried out. Some of these are legally required, and the landlord and agent can be prosecuted for failing to follow through with them, resulting in a fine or even prison time. Others are best practices; though not strictly necessary, carrying them out will make it easier to find suitable tenants and lead to smoother tenancies.


Right to rent

What is right to rent?

In England, all tenants over the age of 18 must prove they are legally allowed to live in the UK. This requires presenting documents to their landlord or agent or, in some cases, providing an online share code.

The penalties for renting to individuals who do not meet this criteria recently became more stringent. The fine for an illegal occupier is now £10,000 for first offenders, with even more serious repercussions for ongoing offenders. Learn more here.


How do I check a tenant’s right to rent?

A tenant must either present their identification documents in person, use the Home Office online service, or if they hold a British or Irish passport,  through IDVT (Identity Document Validation Technology) using an IDSP (Identity Service Provider).

During the pandemic, they could present their documents over a video call to avoid in-person interactions. In October 2022, this stopped being the case.

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Tenant referencing

What is tenant referencing?

Tenant referencing refers to the basic checks you’ll want to carry out on prospective tenants to determine if they would be suitable for the property or not. These can be financial, i.e checking if they can afford the rent and bills, or character related, to see if they would be trustworthy and a good fit for the current household (if it’s a houseshare).

When it comes to financial checks, an easy rule of thumb to follow when seeking tenants is to check their salary is at least 2.5x the monthly rent. That way you’ll know they’ll be able to afford the payments and if they’re likely to slip into arrears or not.

Then, you’ll want to check their background. It’s often best to use a specialist service for this. A basic check using a tenant’s personal information will include credit history and court judgements. More comprehensive checks may be carried out by using previous landlord and current employment references.

Remember that under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, you cannot charge the prospective tenant for these checks in England. Fees like these have been banned in Wales since 2012, and in Northern Ireland, you can only charge for the cost of the check itself — no more.


Tenancy deposit protection

Under the Housing Act 2004, you must protect your tenants’ security deposit in a government-approved deposit scheme if you have entered an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) with them.

In England and Wales, the deposit can be registered with either:


How to comply with tenancy deposit protection regulations

There are strict requirements for following tenancy deposit law, including providing the tenant with certain information after receiving their deposit. If you don’t, you could face a penalty of up to three times the initial deposit.

If you took a deposit from the tenant prior to referencing, and they failed those checks, you must give them their deposit back within seven days. The only exceptions to this are:

  • if they failed a Right to Rent check
  • if they intentionally provided false or misleading information
  • if they changed their mind about wishing to rent the property

In each of these cases, you must write to them within seven days explaining your decision.

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Tenancy agreements

What is a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a contract between the tenant and the landlord. It sets out the legal rights of each party and what they can and cannot do. It can be written or verbal, though it is best practice to have everything in writing. That way you will have a record to refer back to should any disagreements arise.


Do I have to provide a tenancy agreement?

It’s not the law to provide your tenants with a written agreement to sign, but it is highly recommended. You’ll want to have everything in writing to prevent any miscommunications about what is and isn’t allowed and to be able to provide solid evidence of what was agreed upon in case of a dispute.


What does a tenancy agreement look like?

The agreement should detail the rights and responsibilities of both parties. It must follow the rights given to each party by the law. These rights will vary according to the type of tenancy agreement. If a term in the agreement conflicts with a right given by the law, it is not enforceable.

Citizens Advice recommends the following should be in a tenancy agreement:

  • your name, your landlord’s name and the address of the property which is being let
  • the date the tenancy began
  • details of whether other people are allowed to use the property and, if so, which rooms
  • the duration of the tenancy — if it’s a fixed-term tenancy, this means the date when the fixed term ends
  • the amount of rent payable, how often and when it should be paid and how often and when it can be increased
  • what the rent includes — for example, council tax or fuel
  • whether the landlord will provide any services — for example, laundry, maintenance of common parts or meals and whether there are service charges for these
  • how much notice the landlord and tenant must give to end the tenancy

If the tenancy type includes obligations for the landlord to repair the property, these should be detailed in the agreement, too.

The government has produced a model tenancy agreement which you may wish to use as a template for yours.

Remember, you can’t discriminate against a tenant in an agreement because of any of these protected characteristics:

  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • pregnancy or maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex or sexual orientation


Can the tenancy agreement be changed once the tenancy has started?

Yes, but only if agreed upon by both the landlord and tenant. Again, it’s best practice to ensure any change to the agreement is made in writing.

That’s everything you need to do before your tenant moves in. In the next section of this guide, we look at what you can do to ensure a smooth and enjoyable tenancy for everyone involved, including how to handle pets in properties, improve communications and carry out effective and hassle-free inspections.

Section 4: Managing tenancies: Anticipate and solve key issues/obstacles

You’ve got a tenant in your property – now what? While every tenancy is different, there are some key commonalities between all of them, from property inspections to requests to keep pets.

We’ve put together info on some of the most common obstacles you’ll face in your tenancies, and will give you the tools to navigate them smoothly. Read on to find out how to keep your tenants satisfied, and make your own life easier.


Property inspections

Landlords often dread property inspections, but they don’t have to be a struggle. Following simple guidelines can make the process simple for everyone involved:

  • Arrange a day and time with the tenant. You don’t want to get to the front door and find out they’re visiting relatives for the next month.
  • Notify the landlord. Keeping everyone in the loop can help prevent miscommunication later on.
  • Read up on past reports. If a problem has been reported in the property before, you’ll know to check if it has got worse.
  • Have the tools you need. The last thing you want is running out to the shops to buy a screwdriver because you left yours behind.


How often can a landlord inspect a property?

Industry standard for property inspections in the UK is every three, four or six months. Any more frequently than that could be considered by the tenant as harassment and violating their right to quiet enjoyment.

Landlords cannot inspect properties without the tenant present, except in the case of an emergency. Tenants must be given at least 24 hours’ notice before an inspection.

Once you’ve prepared, know what to look out for when you arrive:

  • Any trace of damp and mould should be nipped in the bud early. Check out our section on damp and mould below.
  • Fixtures – scuffed walls, broken windows, overloaded plug sockets, etc.
  • Leaks. Self-explanatory.
  • Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. You should’ve already made sure these are up to standard in the pre-tenancy checks, but ensuring they still work is vital.
  • Drains and gutters. Clogs in autumn lead to leaks in winter. Take a look at our seasonal property maintenance section below.
  • Cleanliness and clutter. Tenants aren’t expected to be a Mary Poppins level of tidy, but they are expected to keep their property clean and tidy to avoid pest infestations.

Keep on track with detailed notes for property inspections. After the inspection, you should put together a detailed property inspection report for your property’s file. Having detailed notes of each inspection will help you to keep track of developing problems, how well the tenants are looking after the property, and are a great way of keeping landlords informed.

  • Property Inspection Guide
  • Property Inspection Report Template
  • Checklist for use on the go: printable & editable from your smartphone

After the inspection, you should put together a detailed property inspection report for your property’s file. Having detailed notes of each inspection will help you to keep track of developing problems, how well the tenants are looking after the property, and are a great way of keeping landlords informed.


Managing damp and mould

Since December 2022, letting agents’ responsibilities over damp and mould have changed dramatically. Previously, the responsibility for mould in properties lay on the tenant to take steps to reduce humidity and dampness. However, after several notable cases of death due to extreme cases of mould since 2022, this has changed.

Michael Gove and the Housing Ombudsman’s consensus is that it is the responsibility of landlords to assess the cause of damp and mould issues within their properties. Gove agreed with the Ombudsman that “damp and mould are not lifestyle issues”. If a tenant is taking all possible steps to eliminate damp and mould, it cannot be blamed on them.

Landlords are expected to take steps to understand the cause of mould, and not automatically assign blame to the tenant. A full assessment must be done before causes can be attributed. Actions landlords and agents can take include:

  • Review the accessibility of reporting. Do non-English speaking tenants have a way to communicate issues to you? Can you be contacted by tenants without digital skills?
  • Look back at previous complaints of damp and mould. Have the issues been resolved? If not, you must follow up with the aim of resolving.
  • Be timely with your response. Mould can grow quickly, so take speedy action to prevent it from getting worse.
  • Take a zero-tolerance, proactive approach to any report of damp or mould.

Regulators will be able to issue unlimited fines for breaches and confiscate properties from landlords where tenants' lives are at risk, so make sure to act swiftly when your tenants report damp and mould.


What causes damp and mould?

Damp and mould are not the same thing. Damp is the presence of unwanted moisture a building’s structure. Mould, on the other hand, is a fungal microorganism which is typically the result of damp, as mould grows in moist environments.

Damp can damage a building’s structural integrity, and living with mould can be extremely bad for your health. According to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), mould can be a Category 1 or Category 2 hazard, as it can – but does not always – pose a serious risk to health. Since the end of 2022, there have been two high-profile deaths related to mould in managed properties. 

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Seasonal property maintenance

Throughout the year, the actions you have to take in and around your properties evolve. But don’t worry – we’ve got the pointers you need, whatever the weather.

  • By early May, gulls and pigeons could have already built nests and laid eggs in the crevices of your landlords’ properties. If these become pests for your tenants, make sure to contact a licensed professional to deal with them — you don’t want to fall foul of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
  • Waste created by birds — such as nests, foul and other refuse — can clog drains and rainwater outlets causing a flock of other problems. Keep a record with photos when these are cleared, in case they become relevant in insurance claims.
  • To prevent bird issues altogether, it could be worth using bird spikes, netting or wire to discourage nesting. Install these in early spring to get ahead of potential problems.
  • Avoid broken boilers and burst pipes in the winter by getting them checked out in the summer – this way, you’ll skip the higher prices and contractor shortages.
  • Summer is when outdoor spaces become the most overgrown, leading to pests and weeds. Especially with tenants known to let gardens become unkempt, one way to discourage this is to schedule property inspections during the summer months, giving them an incentive to cut back lawns before they become out of hand.

Got any seasonal tips you want to share with your fellow agents? Send your tips into ideas@fixflo.com and we’ll include them in our guide.


Pets in properties

Upcoming renters reforms are expected to broaden pet-owning rights for renters in the UK, but until then it’s up to the landlord’s discretion whether or not they want to allow pets in their properties.

The current Model Tenancy Agreement suggests that as a standard, landlords should not put a blanket ban on pet ownership. They would have 42 days to refuse tenant requests for pets, and only for a good reason. However, there is no legal requirement for landlords to use this standard agreement.

Landlords who do allow pets should take some precautions:

  • Ask what species and breed the pet is. Some dog breeds are banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act, and ownership of some rare or exotic pets requires a license.
  • Ask prospective tenants for a pet resume. This could include statements from previous landlords and neighbours on the behaviour of the animal.
  • Find out if the animal has been spayed or neutered. Certain animals cause more nuisance if they have not been fixed.
  • Require tenants to buy or contribute to pet insurance. Even the most docile animal has the potential to cause damage to a property.
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Communicating with tenants

Even when the rest of the tenancy is running smoothly, if you are having trouble communicating with your tenants, the whole process falls apart. Here are our top ways to keep your tenants in the loop:

  • Be clear and consistent. Let your tenants know what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you. That way, there’s no guesswork.
  • Make it easy to report issues. 
  • Digitise communication as much as possible. 
  • Use an online portal for issue reporting and other property processes to keep everything in one place so nothing gets lost.
  • Send updates and follow-ups if plans change or take longer than expected.
  • Make services available in multiple languages.
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Section 5: End of tenancy: Master the moving-out process 

So your tenancy has come to an end. In some cases, the tenant has simply decided to move on or buy a place of their own. But in other instances, the end of a tenancy can be more complicated. Whether you're managing a straightforward moving-out process or an eviction, we have the resources you need to make this difficult process easier for everyone. 


Moving out checklist 

Moving house is widely acknowledged to be one of the most stressful life events you can face. Between missing keys and disappearing boxes, how can you make your tenants’ move-out process as smooth as possible? 

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Section 8 guide 

Sometimes, a tenancy just doesn’t work out. Evicting tenants is never easy, but in some instances, it can be the necessary course of action to protect your property and business. 

Eviction is a delicate and emotive process for both landlords and tenants, particularly if they have broken the terms of the tenancy.

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What is Section 8?
Section 8 refers to Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, under which landlords can evict tenants if the tenancy agreement has been broken or they want to change the use of the property. 

Section 21 guide

What is Section 21?
A section 21 notice starts the legal process to end an assured shorthold tenancy. A section 21 notice is given when the landlord wants to regain control of the property through no fault of the tenants or occupiers. 

At the end of a tenancy period, you may not wish to renew your contract with the existing tenants. This can happen for a number of reasons, and as long as the tenants have not broken the terms of their lease, you can pursue a no-fault eviction by serving a Section 21 notice. 

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But wait! Section 21 could be gone soon… 

When will section 21 be abolished?

Introduced in May 2023, the Renters (Reform) Bill proposes major changes to the UK lettings sector. Including the removal of Section 21, this new legislation could be shaking things up very soon. Read up now on the changes to come.

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