Landlords now have a long list of rules and regulations with which they must comply – or risk facing hefty fines.
Professional landlords will be more than willing to abide by the regulations as it means that their tenants are not placed at risk because of inadequate fire alarms, obstructions to emergency exits or dangerous gas appliances.
More recently, however, the Government has created even more work for landlords and letting agencies by introducing still more legal and regulatory control covering issues such as deposits, right to rent checks and energy efficiency improvements.
Landlords could be out of pocket if they are found to be in breach, with a fine of up to £1,000 for letting a home to a tenant who is not legally entitled to stay in the UK.
Just last month private landlord Matthew Hartley had to pay more than £1,000 after he admitted operating in Burnley without a licence. He was prosecuted by Burnley council for managing a property in a selective licensing area.
Plymouth landlord Abdul Manik was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for endangering his tenants’ lives when a dangerous gas boiler was found in a flat. He was fined £11,000 and required to pay costs of £880.
A more disturbing case at Exeter Crown Court heard that an unregistered gas fitter, Christian Winter, had installed a gas boiler and carried out gas safety checks at a rental property. He had deceived the landlord by using a false Gas Safe Register number.
Winter was given a suspended prison sentence of 12 months, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £3,327.80 in costs.
The landlord had challenged Winter but he continued to lie by saying that he was a registered gas engineer.
The Winter court case shows just how important it is for landlords and property management companies to carry out their own checks and not simply rely upon someone’s word that they are appropriately certified. By checking the Gas Safe Register personally, the landlord can find out if the fitter is indeed qualified to carry out the work.
It is a sorry state of affairs in which landlords and rental companies cannot afford to trust a contractor or supplier but they need to exercise due diligence and check up on service providers. If not, the consequences could be far more serious than a financial penalty, potentially putting tenants at risk.
It also highlights the need to keep accurate, up-to-date records of all transactions regarding any rental portfolio.
There are numerous tasks which need to be carried out when letting a property, including contracts; leases; billing; accounts; getting an Energy Performance Certificate; arranging a gas check and obtaining a Gas Certificate; installing smoke detectors; checking furniture complies with fire regulations; performing Right to Rent checks on tenants; and collecting deposits.
Landlords also need to market properties in order to attract tenants; arrange viewings; carry out check-ins and check-outs for tenants arriving or leaving; and draw up an inventory.
Investing in software is an efficient and cost-effective approach to managing records regarding rental properties and tenants. The technology will also remind property owners as to when checks or inspections must be carried out and certificates or contracts renewed.