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Landlord Checklist – What you really need to know before you rent out a property

October 12, 2016 4:19 pm
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Landlord Checklist – What you really need to know before you rent out a property

Landlord Checklist – What you really need to know before you rent out a property

For many years the laws concerning Landlords’ responsibilities have made the headlines. Following the Immigration Act 2016, Deregulation Act 2015 and the Localism Bill 2011, Landlords needs to be diligent when it comes to a Tenant’s Right to Rent in the UK, registering the deposit with a deposit protection scheme and serving your Tenant’s with the correct paperwork at the commencement of the tenancy to enable you to serve a section 21 notice to end the tenancy.

To avoid any confusion, we have compiled a simple checklist for Landlords to offer a helping hand:

  • Energy Performance Certificate – As of 1 October 2008, EPCs are a mandatory requirement for all lets and are valid for 10 years. This makes up part of the new Section 21 regulations, which means you won’t be able to repossess your property with a Section 21 notice without providing your Tenant with a copy of this certificate.
  • Gas Safety Check – In accordance with the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 Landlords are responsible for ensuring that the gas supply to the property, along with any gas appliances within, are safe. Therefore, you must organise a gas safety check to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer before the property is rented and every 12 months thereafter. Non-compliance is a Criminal Offence and could result in a fine, imprisonment or both.
  • Electrical Safety Check – In accordance with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the Plugs and sockets etc. (safety) Regulations 1994, checks should be carried out by a suitably qualified electrician and a safety report issued.
  • Smoke Alarms – New laws that came into force in October 2015 mean that all Landlords must; fit at least one smoke alarm on each floor of their premises, fit a carbon monoxide detector in rooms containing a solid fuel appliance, and check and record that all alarms are working when a new tenancy starts.
  • Legionella Risk Assessment – Recent changes in the UK Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice L8 (Legionnaire’s disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water system) means that Landlords must carry out a Legionella Risk Assessment of rented properties. The Health and Safety Executive Code of Practice states that this is a legal requirement in accordance with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.
  • Furniture and Furnishings – In accordance with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 – amended in 1993 – a Landlord is required to ensure all furniture within the property conforms to the 1993 amendments of this Act of Parliament. Non-compliance is a Criminal Offence and could result in a fine, imprisonment or both. You could also be liable for civil prosecution.
  • Mortgage – If your property is mortgaged, you should obtain your mortgage company’s consent to let the property. They may also provide you with additional clauses which must be stipulated within the tenancy agreement.
  • Leaseholds – If you are a leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease and obtain the necessary written consent prior to letting the property. Specific clauses within the lease may need to be included within the tenancy agreement.
  • Insurance – It is vital that you arrange a Landlord’s insurance policy before letting to ensure that you are covered for claims for injury from the occupants, malicious damage by the Tenants and for periods when the property is empty for more than 30 consecutive days. A good Landlord insurance policy should include Public Liability and Property Owner’s Liability cover, alternative accommodation costs, loss of rent cover, glass and lock replacement and, where relevant, contents insurance.  You should also ensure that Tenants have their own contents insurance for items they keep in the property. However, it’s your responsibility to have an insurance policy that covers any fixtures and fittings in the property and, if your property is furnished, to have Landlord’s contents insurance for the items you own.
  • Right to Rent – In line with the Immigration Act 2014, from 1st February 2016, all Landlords in England who allow a tenancy are required to make ID and Right to Rent checks on all adult occupiers. The scheme is compulsory and makes it mandatory for anyone who rents out private property in England to see and make a copy of evidence that any new adult Tenant has the right to rent in the UK, be this continuous or time limited. Landlords who fail to do these checks correctly could be liable for a fine of up to £3,000 per occupier. Under Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, a Landlord must not authorise an adult to occupy property as their main or only home under a residential tenancy agreement unless the adult is a British Citizen, Swiss national, from a European Economic Area or has other proof of a continued right to rent in the UK. An applicant may have a time-limited right to rent if they are from outside of the UK or EEA and this can be proved using the correct documentary evidence.
  • How to Rent Guide – The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have issued an updated ‘How to Rent’ guide for use from 1 February 2016. The ‘How to Rent’ guide needs to be served on all new and renewal tenancies from 1 February 2016. This part of the new Section 21 regulations, which means you won’t be able to repossess your property with a Section 21 notice without providing your Tenant with the booklet. The guide serves as a helpful checklist for anyone searching for a house or flat to rent, offering guidance through every step of the letting process.
  • Deposit Protection – Under the provisions of the UK Housing Act 2004, any Landlord who takes a deposit from a Tenant for an assured shorthold tenancy after April 2007, must register the deposit with a Government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receipt. The law requires you to give the prescribed information as well as protecting the deposit. This is a detailed statement regarding the deposit and must be accompanied by an explanatory leaflet which each scheme issues for the Tenant. Failure to register the deposit by the 30-day deadline and or serve the correct prescribed information will prohibit you from serving a section 21 notice to end the tenancy. It also means that the Tenant (or a third party that pays towards the deposit) can claim a penalty for up to three times the amount of the deposit.

The above is a brief overview of your obligations but the best way to ensure that you are compliant with all up-to-date legislation is to use a reputable Letting and Management agent such as ourselves. Thornley Groves let and manage circa 3000 properties within the City Centre and South Manchester suburbs so we are always available to assist Landlords who need advice about their legal responsibilities.

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