There is so much more to being a landlord than just purchasing a property and finding tenants that it is near impossible to name just five things to look out for. Being a landlord means that you are running a business and for it to be a success it must be treated as such. This includes complying with the many, ever-changing laws and regulations which govern the sector.
To avoid getting into trouble here are 5 things a landlord should know:
It is vital that you provide your tenants with a comprehensive tenancy agreement which is robust and up to date. A tenancy agreement sets out the terms of the tenancy and includes important details of each party’s responsibilities in a clear, concise and transparent way. The tenancy agreement may also be called upon should a dispute arise at the end of the tenancy. It is therefore vital that the agreement covers every aspect of the tenancy.
At the start of a new tenancy, the landlord should provide a tenant with certain documents. If you don’t, you could be in breach of the law, and may run into difficulties if you need to regain possession of your property. From 1 October 2015, the Government will require a landlord to provide their tenants with the following documentation:
- A valid Energy Performance Certificate.
- An annual Gas Safety Certificate. Each gas appliance must be checked and certified each year.
- A copy of the Department’s ‘How to rent’ Guide. This guide is accessible for free on the Department’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent
- Relevant tenancy deposit protection information.
If you take a deposit, it is the law to that it must be protected in a Government-approved scheme such as my|deposits. A landlord in England and Wales (other rules apply to Scotland and NI) must protect the deposit within 30 days of receiving the deposit and provide the tenant with the prescribed information within those 30 days.
Protect yourself and know the law
You also have a responsibility to your tenants and you must ensure that you know what they are and follow them. This will ensure the safety of your tenant and keep your property in good nick.
As well as providing a safe environment for your tenant, you must also be aware of a wide range of other responsibilities. For example, is your property in an area where the local authority requires landlords to be licensed, and if so, do you have a licence for the property? If you don’t, you will be breaking the law and could end up with a hefty fine.
Having readily available advice and support can mean all the difference. Joining a landlord association such as the NLA will provide you with help, advice and support to ensure the smooth running of your letting business. The NLA has a comprehensive online library and an advice line. The NLA also offers training for new and existing landlords to ensure you develop your professional skills and are up to date with any new changes.
Most calls to our advice line have been because a landlord has an issue which arose because they were unaware of the rules and their responsibilities. Getting into trouble like this is stressful and sometimes ends up being very costly.
More than anything else, do your research before embarking on the landlord journey.