Property viewing checklist: a guide for landlords

Two landlords looking at a property they're interested in buying

Buying a property to rent out is a big decision that could impact your finances for many years to come.

Viewing properties is an important part of the process and although this can be exciting, it’s not uncommon for emotions to get in the way.

This can lead to rash decisions, or forgetting to ask crucial questions.

And as a landlord, there are specialist criteria to consider compared to viewing a house you’re planning to live in. To get the most out of viewings, you need to be prepared and have an idea of what you’re looking for.

Read our buying a house checklist for landlords to give yourself the best chance of a successful viewing and making the right buying decision.

Exterior and interior – questions to ask when viewing a house

Whether you’re buying a house to rent out or to live in yourself, it’s crucial that you know what to look for on a property viewing.

Below we outline the main things to take into account and the key questions to ask when viewing the exterior and interior of a property.

Property exterior – 6 things to look out for

  1. Brickwork – are the bricks in good condition or showing signs of crumbling or decay?
  2. Drains and gutters – broken or blocked drains and gutters can lead to costly problems in the future
  3. Roofing – damaged or cracked roof tiles could be a sign that work is needed, so you’d need to bear this in mind before making an offer
  4. Front door and porch – check the general condition, considering whether any repairs or refurbishments are needed
  5. Front garden – how is it currently being used and would it need renovating after you buy the property?
  6. Back garden – does it need any serious work or just tidying up? Does it have useful storage space, such as a shed?

Property interior – 6 things to look out for

  1. Windows – what type of glazing do the windows have and will blinds or curtains need to be replaced?
  2. Cracks – small cracks in the walls or ceilings are unlikely to be a big issue (especially in older properties), but look out for anything significant
  3. Damp and mould – as well as in the bathroom (see below), it’s important to look for signs of damp and mould throughout the property
  4. Boiler and insulation – is the boiler in good working order and what type of insulation does the property have? This could impact future utility bills
  5. Electrics and fire safety – check plug sockets and wiring, looking for things like exposed wires. Keep an eye out for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms too
  6. Security – is the property secure? Check the front and back door locks, as well as windows, plus gates and fences

Room by room – what to look for on a property viewing

Properties come in all shapes and sizes, but they’ll all come with a kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, and some kind of living space.

Here’s what you need to consider for each individual space.

What to look out for in the kitchen

  • white goods – ask the agent if the seller is planning on leaving them and if not, make a note of how much space there is for refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines
  • built-in appliances – check the condition of the oven and any built-in appliances as you’ll need to factor in the cost if they need replacing
  • conditions of worktops – what material are the worktops? Could they take the strain of sustained use over a long period?
  • flooring – is the flooring able to handle constant use, as well as spills and stains from food and drink?
  • furniture – will any of the furniture be left behind by the seller? If not, what size table and chairs will fit in the kitchen space?

What to look out for in the bathroom

  • damp or mould – any signs of damp or mould could lead to significant problems down the line. Read our guide to mould removal for more information.
  • flooring – what type of flooring is there? Is it in good condition and does it seem hard-wearing?
  • shower and bath – what is the set up and condition? Is there a screen or shower curtain?
  • sealant – broken sealant can cause leaks or long-term damage. Make sure you check it thoroughly

What to look out for in bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms

  • power sockets – as well as checking their condition, it’s worth noting how many sockets there are and whether extra ones will be needed
  • flooring – is the right type of flooring in each room? Consider which areas will get the most use
  • furniture – try and find out what furniture the current owner is planning to leave behind or would be willing to sell
  • storage – what in-built storage options are available? Will you need to create more storage space?
  • repairs – look for small things that need fixing. You may be able to negotiate a lower price and fix them yourself or get the seller to fix them before they leave

Buy-to-let properties – what landlords need to look out for on viewings

As a landlord, you’ll be viewing a property through the eyes of your future tenants. As well as working out whether the property is suitable for people to live in, there are also legal obligations to consider.

Here are some key things for landlords to consider on a viewing:

  1. What is the EPC rating? The property’s Energy Performance Certificate rating will impact utility bills for tenants. It’s also illegal for landlords to rent out a property with an EPC rating of F or G
  2. Are there carbon monoxide and smoke alarms? These features not only help to keep tenants safe, but it’s a legal requirement to have them in a rental property
  3. Could a reception room be turned into a bedroom? Many landlords opt to turn a dining room into an extra bedroom, particularly if they’re planning to rent out a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
  4. Is the property fire safe? Landlords have responsibilities when it comes to fire safety, so it’s good to know whether you’ll need to make any improvements before buying the property
  5. Is the electrical system up to scratch? You’ll need to carry out electrical safety checks at least once every five years so take a close look at things like fuse boxes, wiring, and sockets

What else do you need to know?

Before you put in an offer on a property, take the time to find out some key information about the local area. For example, are there strong transport links, plus local shops, pubs, and restaurants? And if you’re thinking of renting to a family, good local schools will be a priority.

Knowing this information can help you to decide on the type of tenant you want to rent to as well as how much to offer.

Other key bits of information include asking the estate agent why the property is being sold, whether it’s been a rental before, and how much things like council tax and buildings insurance could cost.

Read our guide to buy-to-let investment for more tips on buying a rental property.

Top tips for landlords viewing a property to buy

Alongside all the things you need to look out for as part of our checklist, here are some more ideas to get the most out of your viewings when buying a rental property:

  • take photos and videos – these are useful to revisit after the viewing and you can show them to friends and family to get a second opinion
  • ask lots of questions – no question is a stupid question. The more you ask, the more key information you could uncover
  • view more than once – there’s a lot to take in on a first viewing. That’s why visiting a second time could bring you closer to a final decision
  • be curious and suspicious – properties are staged for viewings, so don’t take everything at face value
  • check out the local area – finding out about neighbours, how busy roads are, and getting a general feel for the area is crucial before making an offer
  • take your time – don’t feel rushed by an estate agent. Look in every corner of the property and arrange follow-up viewings if you have more exploration to do

What are your tips for viewing a buy-to-let property? Let us know in the comments below.

Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a professional writer with over 10 years’ experience across the property, small business, and insurance sectors. A trained journalist, Conor’s previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor has worked at Simply Business as a Copywriter for three years, specialising in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

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