There is an increasing amount of new legislation, new rules and regulations that are continually coming into force relating to the private rented sector.
Also, apart from these major changes, there’s a host other long-standing rules and regulations that a landlord must be aware of, and comply with, when letting out a property.
Below is a list of 12 top legal tips for landlords who might be planning to enter into the rental market for the first time:
1. Make sure you that you have at least a basic knowledge of your legal requirements, obligations and responsibilities before renting out your property. Do some reading up on the regulations covered on this website, and invest in a basic book on buy-to-let – there’s plenty of choice on Amazon for under £10.
2. Hake sure you serve your tenant with all the necessary documention when the tenancy commences, otherwise you may have difficulty evicting if things go wrong. An EPC, a gas safety certificate, the government’s “How to Rent” guide, and the deposit statutory information and scheme rules are all vital bits of information you must supply. Attach them to the tenancy agreement and get the tenant to sign for them.
3. Make sure that your property is neat and tidy and in good state of repair before letting it out. Not only will your property let faster, if it has “kerb appeal” and is in good and clean condition throughout you can sleep easier at night knowing that you are not breaking any safety rules.
4. If there are gas appliances in the property, you must have a gas safety certificate from a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. Always check the engineer’s credentials, make sure the certificate is renewed every year when the gas appliances are checked and serviced, and make sure you give a copy of a current gas safety certificate to the tenant/s when the tenancy begins, and on renewal.
5. Have the electrical system checked every 5 years by a qualified electrician, and make sure the appliances are in a safe condition, ideally by have them all PAT tested. Make sure the furniture supplied within the property meets the fire safety requirements, each one having a label to that effect, and carry our a Legionella risk assessment.
6. Have a good up-to-date tenancy agreement, which outlines the tenant’s and your own (landlords) obligations. Don’t use an old revamped agreement as it won’t take into account any new changes in the law – these come up all the time.
7. If your property falls under an HMO designation, or is in a licensing area, you are housing students, then seek advice from your local authority. They will give you chapter and verse advice as to what criteria and requirements you need to fulfil before letting. They will also let you know if your property will need a licence. Local authority websites are usually a good source of information on that.
8. Carry out a good property inspection and safety risk assessment (or better still have an independent inventory clerk do this) and fill in an INVENTORY of all the items and their condition in the property before handing over the keys. Make sure you note down any damage that already exists and incorporate photograph if possible. This will be very important if you need to make a claim against the deposit.
9. If the property is mortgaged, then make sure you make the lender aware that you are renting the property out and get the necessary consent from them.
10. When taking out insurance for the property, let the insurance company know that it is being let out and that you need a landlord’s policy. This covers you for all the necessary risks in particular for third part risks such as death and injury in and around the property. You will find a range of specialist providers here: https://www.landlordzone.co.uk/suppliers-directory/insurance
11. If the tenant fails to pay rent or breaks other conditions of the tenancy agreement, than as a last resort, you may have to take the relevant steps towards eviction by issuing a section 21 or section 8 notice. This is a notice requiring possession of the property. You should do this as soon as you feel the tenant may cause you serious problems, as the longer you leave it the more out of pocket you may become.
12. Finally, you should not enter a tenanted property without the tenant’s consent. If you believe the tenant has vacated the property, abandoned it, you must follow certain steps before you can take possession again. You may need a repossession order from the county court before taking over. Remember it is a criminal offence to unlawfully harass or evict a tenant.