Please Note: This Article is 3 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

This is a summary of the feedback we received from a Webinar presented by UPad’s James Davis, accompanied by Tom Entwistle from LandlordZONE on Thursday evening the 26th of November entitled “The New Landlord Checklist: Know Your Legal Obligations“.

We received some amazing feed-back, almost all positive.

I thought it might be a good idea if I answered some of these questions and posted them on our website here.

At the end of the Webinar we asked, “Are there any other questions you’d like us to answer?”

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Here are Tom Entwistle’s answers to these additional questions:

Q – Have you got a copy of the Legionella RA you use please?

A – The Legionella Risk Assessment along with several other useful forms, notices, letters and checklists are available from our website here: Documents

Q – The best way to construct assured short hold tenancy agreements?

A – There are several commercially available AST agreements, all of which are kept up-to-date legally, and easily available: Upad, the RLA and NLA do their own agreements, free to users and members, plus the Lawpack letting kit from WH Smith and Staples or online. Oyez.co.uk is a good source of a wide range of agreements, plus our website here. The Government have now produced their own Model tenancy agreement (AST) which can be downloaded here

Q – Will you be changing your AST template to include the documents that the tenants are required to have received?

A – This was a question about the Upad agreement, but the same applies to the sources listed about: all agreement will be updated in due course; you just need to check that you buy those that have been updated recently.

Q – What is the view on compensation if the boiler breaks down and there is quite naturally a short time delay in organising work and replacement?

A – This is my personal view: if your own boiler breaks at home you may have to wait a day or so without heat and hot water, similarly for the tenant. Providing you do all you can, get someone out within a reasonable time (say 48 hours) and get it fixed, then I don’t see a reason to give compensation. If there is a delay then I think it would be reasonable for the tenant to expect you to provide alternative heating & hot water, and there may then be an argument for compensation.

Q – Are lenders able to insist on a letting agent/solicitor to be appointed for a mortgagee to be allowed to let their property?

A -There’s no law that says they should, but frankly lenders can insist on whatever they like, after all they are the ones who agree to lend you the money. It’s not usual for them to do that though.

Q – Do you have to provide a valid EPC certificate with every new tenancy along with the gas certificate?

A – Yes is the answer. It was law before the new regulations to supply an EPC and a Gas Certificate (CP12) but now it is a condition of obtaining a possession order. You must supply these along with the government’s How to Rent guide before you can serve a valid s21 notice. At the start of the tenancy is the time to do this.

Q – I believe that all landlords should petition for being singled out with all the tax changes and the 3% stamp duty. The mortgages for Landlords are dearer than residential, deposits required are much higher and now another barrier to entry for individual Landlord.

A – I’m afraid landlords as a body don’t have much power, even with a Conservative government when most vote Tory – it comes down to numbers, and tenants outnumber them perhaps 10 to one. Landlords struggle to get public opinion behind them. The landlord associations do a great job lobbying and pressurising, but on some issues such as tax there’s no moving government. Buy-to-let mortgages are now much more competitive that they were in the past and many are little more expensive that home owner ones, though in the end price equates to risk to the lender.

Q – There is no other business in the land being treated so unfairly.

A – I tend to agree, but government and HMRC argue that property investment for the individual is an investment, not a business. How they arrive at that conclusion beats me! Despite this, HMRC do allow certain expenses against running a buy-to-let “investment”.

A – The press continuously shows Landlords in bad light. How can the image of landlords be changed?

T’was ever thus: landlording’s not the most revered occupation in the land, perhaps on a par with politicians dare I say, but the media like a good juicy story, and especially from what they see as the poor underdog. Landlords need to behave in a professional way and local authorities need to make more of their efforts to drive out the rogues.

Q – Would you think it possible that we could get a petition together as like you said, we are getting taxed on the whole of our business now rather than the profit. I want to expand by portfolio, I am only new to this business and feel I have come into the wrong one!!

A – The petition idea has already been done https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104880 but it’s thought doubtful it will have any effect on the outcome.

Q – Tom mentioned that there is a new law about the tax when buying a house.  What is this?

I presume you are referring to the 3% levy on top of Stamp Duty (SDLT) when purchasing a buy-to-let from April 2016, introduced by George Osborne in the Autumn Statement.

Q – Does section 21 apply the same in Scotland?

A – Scotland has a very similar system on the no-fault eviction procedure to the England and Wales s21. However, in both Scotland and Wales these processes are under review and the no fault eviction process is not expected to survive these – it is likely it will be more difficult to evict a tenant in both Scotland and wales in future.

Q – If documents were not delivered correctly does that mean you can never evict a tenant no matter what they do to your property?

A – No, in the case of the now mandatory documents: Gas Certificate (CP12), EPC and the How to Rent Guide, it will be possible to serve them late, prior to serving the section 21. This is not the case if you don’t protect the deposit on time (you have 30 days), though the deposit statutory notice (S213) can be served late. You could be stuck with a tenant if the tenant won’t accept the return of the deposit.

Q – What are the tenant’s responsibilities in allowing access to the property for repairs? Does the responsibility fall entirely on the landlord or does it depend on the terms of the tenancy as to whether or not the tenant has to make an effort to be in attendance for workmen, assessors etc.

A – This is a difficult area and one which landlords argued strongly against in relation to the anti-retaliation legislation. A tenant can easily stymie a landlord’s attempts at repairs if they have a mind to, to avoid an eviction. Letting agreements state that landlords have a right to access for repairs, but this cannot proceed without the tenant’s agreement. It would a breach of contract on the tenant’s part but going to court over this issue would be senseless. No test cases on this as yet with retaliatory eviction but I think you would need to gather evidence that this is happening and trust the courts would be sympathetic on eviction, and if necessary using the section 8 process.

Q – Please can you confirm the position regarding stamp duty for buy-to let prop bought by Limited companies?

A – I don’t think this has been clarified yet. The Autumn Statement says that consultations will be made on how this will affect companies and funds with substantial residential investments and a figure of 15 properties was mentioned.

Q – I’ve just been through the process of evicting a bad tenant who left having caused lots of damage, and made unauthorised changes to decor, carpeting etc., plus 3 months’ rent arrears. As I had to involve solicitors in the process, I was surprised at how much the law is skewed in favour of tenants, no matter how bad the tenant or how conscientious the landlord. The recent legislation just seems to add to that imbalance. I’d be interested to hear your views on that?

A – Contrary to popular opinion I don’t think the law is skewed one way or the other; many tenants think it’s skewed to landlords. It all boils down to burden of proof and having sufficient documentary evidence – we’ve all seen how difficult it is to bring terrorists to justice. The recent legislation is no different on that, though the answer to the last question but one gives a flavour of the difficulties, and it without doubt opens up more loopholes for the determined tenant or her lawyer to avoid eviction. However, as was one of the main themes of the Webinar, having documentary evidence is the key to good tenancy management, especially good ingoing and outgoing inventories. Providing you are dealing with working tenants you can almost always recover all losses, including arrears and damage, through the courts, if you have sufficient and reliable documentary evidence.

Q – We are planning on using an agency to manage our letting (not started yet). If we request them to undertake various things (right to rent checks, collect evidence of EPC and Gas Safety Cert being issued, collect evidence of working smoke alarms and Con detectors being in place etc), and they agree, are we then still liable? Or do they become liable if they don’t follow through? If we are ultimately responsible, can we request that we are sent the various evidences etc, so we have sight of them?

Q – Why aren’t Letting Agents fully responsible for their actions? If a Landlord is paying a letting agent, then it shouldn’t fall back on the landlord.

A – Yes and no. The law says that in these matters the responsibility lies with the “responsible person”. Clearly, in these cases the responsibility is shared and in many cases the ultimate responsibility lies with the landlord, such as when an agent disappears owning deposits. Courts tend to be lenient on amateur landlords, say when letting their own home, and less so on professional agents and landlords. Your agent works for you and on your behalf, so whatever you determine in the relationship goes, so you can certainly demand evidence as you say.   

Q – I have an historical situation where there is a regulated tenancy and tenant was allowed by others to fit their own gas boiler/fire. Who is responsible for getting this tested? I get the pipework integrity tested and ask the tenant to confirm he has the fire/boiler serviced and tested. Is this adequate?

A – That’s a tricky one. To be on the safe side I would get the lot tested on the visit to safeguard yourself – should not cost all that much more. I would also think about a CO alarm while you are at it. I know there’s little return from these tenancies but a legal claim against you is just not worth the risk.

Q – I have been told you don’t need EPC certificates for house shares where everyone is on individual contracts; however this is one of the documents needed to eliminate section 21 issues?

I believe EPCs were not required for HMOs with shared facilities, but this is subject to change now. I think you would need an EPC for the building as a whole, so I would just photocopy and give every tenant a copy.

Does the tenant post passport “original” to landlord and then you Skype to prove who they are, or that they post the landlord a certified copy and then you Skype. Could I ask all prospective tenants to bring original ID with them to viewing, but how do I prove to HO I have physically seen it in front of them?

Q – Still a little confused about serving S21 when it goes to periodic or validity of previously served S21.

A – It’s not surprising there is a little confusion as it is complicated. This article should help https://www.landlordzone.co.uk/information/new-section-21-rules but basically:

  • For tenancies started prior to 1/10/15 and those that went periodic after that, s21 notices lasted for the full fixed term of any length.
  • A periodic notice would need to be served once the tenancy became periodic but this would last indefinitely once served.
  • Old tenancies or continuations must use the old style s21 notices, but you can use the new notice, providing ALL the new conditions are complied with.
  • New tenancies after 1/10/15 use the new prescribed form 6A notice

All these notices available here: www.landlordzone.co.uk/documents

Q – Do we need to use Section 21 if an Assured Shorthold Tennancy is drawing to an end.  Will the tenants be leaving unless they request to stay and a new contract drawn up. Have we as Landlords got to issue a Section 21 even though the Tenancy is terminating.

A – Tenants have a right to stay-on after the end of a fixed term tenancy when a tenancy automatically becomes periodic – month to moth if rent paid monthly. They do need to notify you in any way one way or the other. They can leave at the end of the term without notice if they decide to or by mutual agreement. If you want them to leave against their will then you would need to go through the s21 possession procedure with 2 months’ notice.

Q – What is the best way to get/take a witness to sign tenancy agreements without appearing over bearing?

A – It’s always best to have a witness with you when dealing with tenants when in dispute. You could be accused of harassment which would be difficult to disprove, and of course if they won’t acknowledge receipt of a notice you need proof of personal service by a witness. This does not need to be overbearing if handled correctly.

Q – Renting to Students? Thinking of purchasing a property close to Brighton University. What are the ROI like and are there any pitfalls that you can miss when calculating ROI.

A – I can’t comment on the student market in this location but I would say, do your market research. Speak to agents, the university accommodation officers and look at local ads and the internet for rent rates. Of course, multiple occupation properties are much more profitable than single lets but you need to cover management fees if you don’t live near. Nat all agents will agree to manage multi-lets and student accommodation.

Q – No mention of how to authenticate Identity documents.  How would we recognise a valid legal Passport, Identity Card, Residence Card or Certificate of registration or Naturalisation?  We have only ever seen a Passport, none of the others.  How do we know if it is a fake?

A – This won’t be easy. All I can say is that the government have put out a lot of information about this; they have websites and a help-line for the Home Office. Read the guide here and a Quick Summary here

Q – We have installed a new boiler in the past few months, so our EPG is out of date even though the five years are not up.  How do we update the Certificate without going to all the expense of getting a new one. We only receive a small rent.

A – EPCs last for 10 years. You can get the EPC upgraded after improvements if you contact the issuing company. EPC Register – http://epcregister.com/ – From 01 April 2018 the proposed law changes for landlords of residential or commercial mean properties must be upgraded to at least band ‘E’ (F or G will not be lawful to let) before the property can be let to an existing tenant (where the property already has an EPC) or a new tenant; or within 6 months of a sale where the obligation to improve the property is on the new landlord; and within 6 months from the date they became a landlord, where a tenancy is granted by operation of law.

From 01 April 2023 the regulations will start to apply to all existing lettings and not just to new lettings.  In other words if you do nothing about improving the energy efficiency of a non-compliant property, it will be a breach of the Regulations to allow existing leases to continue where the rating is F or G subject to some-time limited exemptions that impose a high burden of compliance.

Are there any other subjects you’d like to hear about for future Webinars?

  • Landlord software reviews
  • Any relating to the area covered and how to successfully run a letting
  • Electrical test / reports on tenanted properties and requirements
  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Upad’s rent protection insurance.
  • I’m sure there are, but can’t think of any at present so look forward to what you have to offer.  Many, many thanks.  Jensine
  • Network events for the property industry. Property Auctions. New Build properties being constructed with a good investment yield
  • Perhaps the most tax efficient way to build/grow a BTL portfolio
  • Structuring your portfolio in a tax efficient way.
  • Letting agency responsibilities when finding a tenant.
  • Taxation
  • Best buy to let mortgages
  • what is best option if condensation from drying clothes inside but tenant won’t ventilate property
  • Tenancy agreements. Advisable clauses
  • how to make the most out of any relief against tax that we can find knowledge is power
  • Not at the moment
  • Fire Risk Assessments
  • Give me some time to think of that
  • Protecting TDS and re-protecting once tenancy runs into periodic.
  • Abandonment

Over 100 people logged in and here is feed-back from those who attended the Webinar

  • Software took about 4 minutes to load – but just did not miss beginning!
  • Informative, succinct and short which is great? And no up sell!
  • Clear and informative
  • Interesting, informative, many thanks.
  • Very informative
  • very informative session
  • Excellent presentation of some pretty dry subjects, 45mins spot on for this sort of info.
  • Very informative
  • Mostly interesting, but of course there’s a lot I already knew.
  • Very good clear advice though there seemed to be some confusion re Section  21.
  • Clear and honest answers. Thanks.
  • Very interesting and informative.
  • Very good, thank you!
  • “I can’t believe the listeners were so divided in their answers to your poll, I assume very few were experienced landlords
  • Very Informative, I had an agent tell me you have to pay a competent person to do a Legionnaires check but I do feel competent enough to do myself.
  • very informative
  • Very useful and brought forward a few points I hadn’t thought about – and facinated that the carbon monoxide alarms are only required for solid fuel burners in England & Wales – how crazy is that?  (I have them in all rooms with gas or solid fuel appliances anyway).
  • Good comments and a future webinar can be arranged to cover more topics.
  • Excellent, very informative.
  • Good speakers, sound clarity was a little dull.
  • Very informative on issues that are very current and affects all landlords
  • Good information about the carbon monoxide alarms
  • Informative but lots of the content I.e S21 was included in other recent webinars.
  • very helpful and interesting
  • Interesting subject matter. Scary requirements for nationality checks in the future. Took home the strong message about getting proof of documentation delivery.
  • very useful especially in view of all the recent changes and requirements demanded of landlords
  • very informative very helpful i had no idea some of the documents the tenants are meant to be issued
  • It covered the issues that are very relevant to the landlords.
  • Really useful update on recent legislation and pitfalls to be aware of. I like the webinar format as I probably wouldn’t have had time to attend a physical event. The handouts and slides made available meant I didn’t need to be there in person.
  • Useful information – really pleased to have handouts etc to review with my partner.
  • Very comprehensive yet straight to the point. A lot discussed in a short time
  • It was enjoyable and helped to keep up to date with all the changes. I think more should have been said about the temperature measurements necessary for the Legionnaires Risk Assessment
  • “Joined late, but what I saw was useful. As a part time landlord it nice to know that there is help out there. More webinars please they are very useful.
  • I do webinars for a living, its worthwhile un-muting people (who want to talk) to allow them to ask questions at the end, it increases engagement “
  • Useful information in a good format
  • Really useful and raised a few points I hadn’t considered.
  • It brought out interesting and new regulations but did not tell us how to follow them up.  References to information points would be useful

Look out for future Webinars run by Upad and LandlordZONE.

Please Note: This Article is 3 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.

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