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TEN THINGS Accidental OR FIRST TIME Landlords MUST KNOW

With the ever-growing number of laws governing the private rented sector, becoming a landlord for the first time can be somewhat daunting. Here are a few top tips to make sure you understand your legal obligations so you can be sure that you don't fall foul of landlord legislation.

1. Preparing your property

If you are offering your property as a furnished home, think carefully about what you can provide. Remove anything valuable or sentimental – aside from the fact they’re at risk of damage, it can be off-putting for tenants to rent a property that is filled with someone else’s belongings.

You should also think about the type of tenants you want; if you’re hoping a family will move in for a few years, they may have their own furniture already and therefore won’t want your stuff. However, if you’re renting to university students, it’s highly unlikely they’ll have accumulated enough belongings to furnish a house.

Regardless of who your tenants are, before anyone comes to view your property, make sure it is clean, tidy and you have completed any modernisation or DIY projects.

The legal implications of letting the property itself are something that needs to be considered, whether it’s leasehold or freehold, as there are different rules concerning each. Also, where a rental property is located across the country there will be differing regulations to consider before allowing any tenants to move in.

For more advice check out our top tips for renting out your home.

2. Lets with pets

First and foremost, you need to check if you need a landlord license from your local council before your property can legally be rented out. This legislation was introduced in 2006 with the main purpose of ensuring landlords maintain their rental properties to a good standard.

3. Safety first

As a landlord, you are responsible for ensuring the property is safe for your tenants, and as a part of this, you are legally required to get all gas appliances checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer every year. You must then provide tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate within 28 days of the annual check taking place.

Smoke alarms are required on all floors of your property and it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed in any room where solid fuels are burnt (such as wood, coal or biomass). These need to be tested and working on the first day of the tenancy, which is usually done when checking in.

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Read this guide to learn more about your safety responsibilities

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4. Landlord Licence

You will need to check with your local council if you need a landlord license before a property can legally be rented out. This legislation was introduced in 2006 with the main purpose of ensuring landlords maintain their rental properties to a good standard.

5. Tenant Referencing

Rigorously referencing new tenants to check they are reliable and will be able to meet rent payments each month is required. These include credit eligibility, employer checks and previous landlord references.

Most importantly, landlords must check that their tenants have the right to lawfully live in the UK. Failure to undertake a Right to Rent under the Immigration Act 2014 can result in a fine or even a jail term, so it’s important they are conducted thoroughly.

6. Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP)

If you take a deposit from your tenants you must protect it in one of the Government-authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes. There are three available – Deposit Protection Service (DPS), MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

You will need to protect the deposit within 30 days of receiving it and provide the tenant with both the Deposit Protection Certificate and completed Prescribed Information.

Failure to do so could result in you not being able to evict your tenant plus the full return of the deposit and a fine of up to three times the value of the deposit.

7. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

You must serve your tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate. All properties must be at least EPC band E before letting it out and if landlords are caught arranging a new let without ensuring a property is up to these standards, they could be fined.

8. Written tenancy agreement

A tenancy agreement is a document between the tenant and landlord that sets out the terms of the tenancy.

Although written agreements aren’t a legal requirement, it’s best practice so that both the tenant and landlord are clear on what their rights and responsibilities are.

9. Regular inspections

It’s important to undertake regular inspections of the property, however, a landlord cannot enter the property without the tenant’s permission as this is classed as trespassing and is illegal, plus, all COVID-19 safety measures must be closely followed.

It’s best practice to grant them 24 or 48 hours’ written notice, and this should be stipulated in your tenancy agreement.

10. Landlord insurance

If you do not inform your buildings insurer that you’re renting your property out, you risk invalidating your policy.

Most standard buildings insurers don’t provide the protection you require as a landlord, so it’s worth taking out specialist landlord insurance. A good policy will cover a loss of rent, damage, legal expense and liabilities.

Angela Davey

Angela Davey
ARLA Propertymark President

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Whether you’re an accidental landlord or a professional one, the same rules apply, so it’s essential you’re up to speed before marketing your property. You are ultimately allowing a stranger into your biggest asset and therefore it is critical that you do your research, keeping in mind all parties with a vested interest in the property. If you haven’t complied with all these important steps at the start of the tenancy, you may find yourself in a vulnerable position should anything go wrong.

Choosing an agent

When planning to use a letting agent, it is important to use an expert who follows best practice, meets all requirements of the profession, and works to industry standards. ARLA Propertymark Protected letting agents are experienced and trained professionals who work to a code of practice to help landlords manage their homes.

Not only will an agent advertise your property, deal directly with the tenant and complete all relevant paperwork, but an ARLA Propertymark protected agent will also have Professional Indemnity insurance, and a landlord and their money will be covered by our Client Money Protection, providing peace of mind throughout the letting process.

Search for your local ARLA Propertymark agent using our Find an Expert tool.

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