Essential guide for Landlords
Becoming a landlord means letting out properties to tenants, ensuring that these properties adhere to the essential rules and regulations for the rental market. It’s important that landlords understand their responsibilities as many of them are legal, meaning not adhering to them could land you in trouble.
Making sure properties are safe and legal
Arguably the first step in ensuring a property is safe is to make sure it has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This needs to be available to prospective tenants during viewings.
An EPC gives information on how energy efficient a property is as well as the carbon emissions of the property. The running costs of heating, hot water and lighting are also included. The certificate is valid for 10 years.
It is now a legal obligation for all rental properties to have an EPC, and properties cannot be put on the market until a certificate has been obtained.
When it comes to gas safety, government legislation states all landlords need a Landlord’s Gas Safety Gas Certificate, which has been issued by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer and details all gas appliances in a property.
A Gas Safety Certificate lasts for 12 months and needs to be renewed on an annual basis whilst properties remain let. Copies of the certificate need to be given to landlords and tenants.
Any appliances included as part of an inventory for a tenancy should be tested for safety. Landlords have a legal duty to make sure all portable electrical appliances like fridges and washing machines are safe. A PAT safety certificate can be obtained to show this has been done.
When letting a property out, landlords should check that fixed wiring is safe, and this can be done by having a Periodic Inspection and Report (PIR) undertaken. This will be carried out and signed off by authorised electricians. The report will identify areas that need attention along with recommendations of what work could be done to bring these issues up to the required standard.
Fire safety for landlords is an important responsibility, and one, which needs to be adhered to correctly. Since October 2015, landlords are required to have at least one smoke alarm fitted to each floor of a property, along with carbon monoxide alarms installed in rooms that have a solid fuel burning appliance like a coal fire. It is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure these alarms work before the commencement of a tenancy.
What other obligations do landlords have?
The presentation of a property before the start of a new tenancy is the landlord’s responsibility. It’s common for a professional cleaning service to be used to include the cleaning of carpets and curtains. Any exterior areas like gardens should be well presented, with grass that has been mowed.
Landlords are also obliged to offer assistance when it comes to maintaining and repairing a property. These repairs include the exterior and structure of a building including damage to roofs, guttering, drains, windows and walls if any damage is the result of structural problems.
The interior of a property is also the landlord’s responsibility when it comes to maintaining the supply of water, gas, electricity, and sanitary systems.
For tenancies starting after 6 April 2007, landlords must put deposits in a government-backed scheme. This legislation came into force due to deposits being unfairly withheld at the end of tenancies.
When it comes to tenancy agreements, the majority of tenancies are classed as Assured Shorthold Tenancies. This means landlords have more rights when it comes to claiming possession of properties, with a more efficient way of doing this.
The minimum period for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy is six months, but many tenancies are entered into for a 12-month period. If break clauses are included in an original tenancy, then it means either a tenant or landlord has the legal right to end a tenancy before the expiry of the written tenancy, if sufficient notice is served.
Becoming a landlord means adhering to the legal responsibilities and duties set out, for the safety of tenants. It also means that the maintenance and repairs of the rented property are the responsibility of the landlord, and properties that are to be put on the market need to be fit for habitation in terms of safety and cleanliness.