Being a Landlord – Your Responsibilities
Becoming a landlord is a commitment and carries a great deal of responsibility. No matter how informal you’d like the arrangement to be (if you’re renting to a friend, for example) you are still entering into a legal agreement and, as such, have certain obligations. These regulations are put into place to protect the tenant and non-compliance can result in hefty fines or, in some cases, prosecution.
Your responsibilities include:
Health & Safety
You must ensure all that gas equipment in the property is installed and inspected annually by a registered Gas Safe engineer;
All electrical systems and any supplied appliances must be safe and carry the CE symbol;
A smoke alarm must be fitted on each storey and a CO alarm in any rooms with solid fuel burning appliances. There must also be access to escape routes, and all supplied furniture must be fire safe;
The property should be free from damp that could harm health.
Property Repairs & Maintenance
You are responsible for structural and exterior repairs;
Repair and maintenance of basins, sinks, baths, toilets, other sanitary fittings, pipes and drains;
Repair and maintenance of heating and hot water systems;
Repair and maintenance of gas appliances, flues and ventilation, and electrical wiring;
Just like selling, you also need an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) for the property and the tenant should be supplied with a copy.
Tenant Checking, Deposit and Rent
Firstly, you need to make sure that whoever you’re renting to is allowed to be renting in the UK by checking their ‘Right to Rent’: https://www.gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents/who-to-check;
Landlords in the UK are also required to give their tenants a copy of the ‘How to Rent’ guide (either printed or by email) which can be downloaded here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent;
You then need to make sure the deposit you take is protected in a government-backed scheme. A copy of the deposit registration certificate should be given to the tenant;
You should create a tenancy agreement signed by both parties outlining important information such as names, addresses, deposit, agreed term, rent, payment dates, any bills you’re responsible for, termination conditions, furniture inventory;
Any rent increases must be in line with the terms of the tenancy agreement (this will also depend on the type of tenancy);
You must inform your mortgage lender that the property is to be rented (if mortgaged) and also inform HMRC that you are a landlord, paying any associated tax.
These responsibilities must be taken seriously. If you think the list looks a bit intimidating, the good news is you can employ a lettings agent to manage many aspects for you, including finding and checking tenants, holding and managing deposits, preparing tenancy agreements, collecting rent, dealing with repairs, condition inspections and furniture inventories. The services provided will vary depending on your contract with the agent (and the fee you pay) so make sure you know what is covered. No matter how much or how little help you want from an agent, use RightAgent to find the agent for you. Be aware, however, that the legal responsibilities and obligations remain with the landlord, even if you’re employing an agent to act on your behalf.
Being a Landlord – Your Rights
While the tenant’s safety and interests are protected by law, there is also protection in place for landlords too. You have rights to the following:
- Receive rent when it is due
- Change market rent (in accordance with tenancy agreement)
- Be advised of any necessary repairs
- Be given proper notice to terminate an agreement
- Access the property to carry out repairs (you must have the tenant’s consent and give 24 hours’ notice). You can’t ‘harass’ your tenants (this is a criminal offence) or pay impromptu visits – prior notice must be given.
- There are certain circumstances in which you will be allowed to evict a problematic tenant, but you must specify a notice period and follow the correct procedure. It is important that you take legal advice before commencing this process.
- Damage and Repairs
- The tenant can only carry out repairs or refurbishments if the tenancy agreements states they can;
- They must inform you of any repairs that need doing (and you must inform them of when they’ll be done);
- They must put right any damage (at their expense) caused by themselves or their family/friends/visitors.
This is not a definitive list but should give you a clearer idea of what to expect if you’re thinking of renting out a property. There can be variations depending on the type of property you’re renting, the number of tenants, and the type of tenancy. Obtain legal guidance or advice from an experienced lettings agent before entering into an agreement as this will be legally binding. Further information on your rights and responsibilities, including any recently updated regulations, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/browse/housing-local-services.