Picking up the keys is an exciting time – you can finally start to make plans to let the property out and start earning some income. However there are lots of things to take care of on the day you pick up the keys.
The first thing to do is make sure your property is insured. In fact, you should obtain buildings insurance from the date of exchange since you are legally committed to buying the property. It is amazing how many buyers are not aware of this and solicitors (especially the bucket shop ones used by the banks) never seem to inform buyers that the responsibility for insuring the property falls upon the buyer from the date of exchange, NOT completion.
This is a good time to get keys cut. Depending on the size of the property you would need at least two sets to give to the tenants. In addition, we would suggest making two more copies. If you are self-managing, you should keep the keys in a safe place (a fireproof safe is ideal) with no tags directly identifying the address. If you use a letting agent, they should keep one set of keys and you should keep one for yourself.
This is a good time to take a good walk around the place and determine what if any work needs to be done. Check appliances are working, doors close properly and attend to any other repairs. If a lot of work is required take a tradesman in on the day of completion to walk through with him.
Make sure all appliances are working including the boiler, thermostat, gas, showers etc.
Unless the property requires months of work, we would suggest that you put the property up To Let on the day you pick up the keys. Take photos of the property in the condition it is. If you are going to redecorate or make improvements, mention in the description that renovations are ongoing with an “Available from..” date. Although some people may balk at a property which doesn’t look ready, others may be able to see past it and you may sign up a tenant before the work is complete which would minimise your void. In addition, make sure you keep updating the photos once individual rooms are completed so that potential tenants can see what the finished property is going to look like.
Safety & Legal
While not a legal requirement, it is sensible to have an electrical condition report done for a property as soon as you buy it. If there are problems, you want to know about it at the outset rather than once tenants have moved in. In some cases, it can make sense getting an electrical condition report done even prior to exchange so that any big concerns can be raised and fixed or the price adjusted to reflect the likely costs.
For the gas, We would wait until a few days prior to a tenant moving in to get the legally required Gas safety inspection certificate.