As the number of laws and regulations governing letting property in the private rented sector continues to grow, becoming a first-time landlord can be daunting. Here are some tips to help you understand the obligations and legislation to abide by.
Firstly, you must check with your local council to see if you require a landlord licence before legally renting out your property. Introduced in 2006, this legislation has the primary aim of ensuring that landlords manage and maintain their rental homes to an acceptable standard.
As a landlord, rigorously referencing tenants is essential, to ensure they are reliable and can meet rent payments every month. These references include employer checks, previous landlord references and credit eligibility. Most importantly, you must check that tenants have the lawful right to live in the UK. It is vital that checks are conducted thoroughly, as failure to carry out a Right to Rent check under the 2014 Immigration Act can result in fines or even imprisonment.
Tenancy deposit protection
If you accept a deposit from a tenant, it must be protected in one of the Government’s authorised schemes. There are three schemes available; the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) or MyDeposits. The deposit must be placed in one of these schemes within 30 days of receipt, and you must send both the completed Prescribed Information and Deposit Protection certificate to the tenant. Failure to do this can result in fines of up to three times the deposit value, and the inability to evict the tenant if things go wrong.
Energy performance certificate
An Energy performance certificate (EPC) must be served to your tenants. As of 1st April 2018, new legislation was implemented stating that a property must be rated with a minimum EPC band of E before being let. If you arrange a new let before ensuring your home meets these standards, you could face a fine. Since 6th April, new regulations were implemented that meant you can be prohibited from managing property should you breach a law in how you let your rental property. This would result in your local authority taking control of the rental property, and collecting rent. However, you would still be accountable for the mortgage costs and any other bills such as repairs and maintenance.
As landlord, you will be responsible for making sure the property is safe for tenants. This includes the legal obligation to hire a Gas Safe registered engineer to check all gas appliances within the property each year. Tenants must then be provided with the Gas Safe Certificate within 28 days of the check. Fire alarms must also be fitted on all storeys of the property from the beginning of the tenancy, with carbon monoxide detectors installed in all rooms where solid fuel is utilised. These alarms must be tested on the very first day of the tenancy to ensure they are in good working order.
A written tenancy agreement is a document issued between landlord and tenant, which sets out the terms and conditions of the tenancy. Although not a legal requirement, it is best practice to ensure both the landlord and tenant are aware of the responsibilities and rights of both parties.
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