Becoming a landlord can be a hugely rewarding experience, but with it comes a lot of responsibility. Not only do you have ethical obligations to consider, but also the legalities of renting out a home. If you are thinking about becoming a landlord, it’s important to have all the information before you start your first tenancy. Doing a little research beforehand will put you in a great position and help avoid any trouble further down the line. Here is everything you need to know about your responsibilities as a landlord.
Landlord Responsibility 1: Meet Minimum Standards
The law dictates minimum property standards to ensure the health and safety of your tenants. If the property does not meet these standards and a tenant reports it, you will receive a visit from the local authority. If they find that you have breached your responsibilities then you may incur a sanction along with a hefty fine. Here is a closer look at what is required.
Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarms
You must have at least one smoke alarm installed on every floor. A carbon monoxide alarm must be in any room containing a fuel-burning appliance (e.g. a wood-burning stove or an open fireplace). As part of the check-in process, you must make sure that they are all in working order when a new tenancy begins. You must also make your tenants aware that they will need to check them on a regular basis and report any faults to you or your property management company.
You must arrange checks on all gas appliances in the property on an annual basis to make sure that they are safe. A Gas Safe registered engineer should always carry these out. Following the inspection, you will receive a gas safety certificate for each appliance that must be available inside the property. Finally, you must keep a record of all the gas safety checks. By law, you should give a copy of this record to your tenants within 28 days of the gas safety check. For new tenants, you’ll need to provide this at the start of their tenancy.
Electrical safety standards for rented accommodation came into force in June of 2020. These standards stipulate that electrical goods and wiring must be checked by a qualified and registered electrician every 5 years.Once the inspection has been done, you must provide a safety report to both your tenant and the local authority. Breaching this requirement has a particularly severe fine of up to £30,000.
If you have provided any furniture or furnishings for the property, you must make sure they are all categorised as fire-resistant. If they are not, you are committing a criminal offence. This regulation is enforced by local Trading Standards Officers and landlords can not only be fined up to £5,000 but can also be sent to prison for six months. Furniture that is classified as fire resistant should come with a permanent label outlining its suitability. There should also be temporary labels clearly visible at the time of purchase. If you are unsure whether or not your furniture meets these requirements, then you should contact your local Trading Standards Officers for advice.
As a landlord, you must make sure that the water supply to the property is safe and working properly at all times. While chances are very small, in the UK it is possible to contract Legionnaires disease through bacteria in our water systems. As a result, there is a legal duty for landlords to assess and control the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria. This can be done through a simple assessment by a ‘competent person’. This just means a person who is aware of the sources of legionella, what precautions to take and how to maintain and control systems to minimise the risk. To find out what the assessment entails, you can download this free document from the Health and Safety Executive.
Landlord Responsibility 2: Provide An EPC Certificate
You need to provide an Energy Performance Certificate, or EPC, whenever a property is built, sold or rented. The certificate gives important information about the property’s energy use and typical costs along with recommendations on how to reduce energy and save money.EPCs are valid for 10 years and there is likely already one in existence for your property. If you don’t, you will need to get an assessment done by an accredited assessor before you market your property for rent. Either you or your letting agent will also need to show it to your new tenant.
Landlord Responsibility 3: Repairs
As the owner of the property, you are responsible for most repairs, both inside and out. This includes things like:
- Replacing roof slates
- Fixing gutters
- Clearing drains
- Repairing leaks in the sinks or showers
- Fixing a broken boiler
- Repairing electrical wiring
As repairs are your responsibility, you are not allowed to bill your tenants for the work. However, your tenant is also obliged to report any problems to you in a timely manner. To make sure that nothing gets missed, you may like to conduct interim checks on the property a few times a year. This can help catch any issues early on before they turn into larger problems that are more costly to fix.It’s worth noting that if you decide to carry out the repairs yourself, you must always let your tenant know when you are coming in advance.
Unless it is an emergency and you need immediate access, you should always give at least 24 hours notice. You must also come to the property at a reasonable hour.If you pay for a professional to carry out the repairs, you can simply give the tenant their contact details so they can arrange a suitable time between them.
Landlord Responsibility 4: Check Your Tenant’s Right To Rent
Regardless of their nationality, you must check every single tenant can legally rent your property in England. This applies even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement or even if there isn’t a tenancy agreement at all. If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, you need to do the check-in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy. This is usually done as part of the tenant referencing process. To make sure tenants are being properly vetted, you should always use a referencing company. Alternatively, you can have it taken care of by your letting agent or property manager.
Landlord Responsibility 5: Tenant Deposits
It is standard procedure to get a deposit from your tenant to secure the tenancy. This helps to ensure it is returned to you in good condition. In the UK, you must protect this deposit with a government-approved protection scheme. These schemes are designed to stop landlords using deposit money unfairly. They also ensure its safe return if all of the rental conditions are met. If you are in England or Wales, you can use any of the following schemes:
There are also separate schemes for those renting property in Scotland and Northern Ireland.Once you receive the deposit money, you must submit it to an appropriate scheme within 30 days of receipt. If you don’t use a protection scheme then you may receive a fine. A court may also rule that your tenant doesn’t have to leave the property when the tenancy ends. When you and your tenant have agreed how much of the deposit money they will get back, you must also return it to them within 10 days.
Landlord Responsibility 6: Give Your Tenant A Copy Of The ‘How To Rent’ Checklist
The ‘How To Rent’ checklist is a guide the government has written that you should provide to all tenants. It gives important information on each stage of the renting process, including:
- what to look out for before renting
- living in a rented home
- what happens at the end of a tenancy
- what to do if things go wrong
The guide can be downloaded for free from the government website and printed from your home computer.
Landlord Responsibility 6: Declare And Pay The Proper Taxes
You must declare any rental income you make from your property to the HMRC and pay your taxes accordingly. You are allowed various expenses to help reduce your bill. A certain amount of rental income will also be tax free, depending on your circumstances. There are also slightly different rules if your rental property is classed as a business. Taxes can be confusing at the best of times. You might like to employ the services of a bookkeeper or accountant to help keep everything in order. You can face hefty fines if you make a mistake or do not declare your income correctly, so it’s an expense that’s often well worth making.
As you can see, landlords have a lot of obligations. But the good news is that there is plenty of help available to ensure you keep on top of things. Working with a property management company or a lettings agency like Oasis Living can take care of your investment. Property professionals are well-versed in the ins and outs of the rental market and know all the requirements. Having a helping hand can go a long way in giving you peace of mind. It will also help you get the most out of your rental property. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.