Your Legal Responsibilities as a Landlord
In the UK, those living in rented property enjoy a raft of protections. These laws are designed to keep unscrupulous landlords from exploiting their tenants, but they can also pose problems for fair-minded who might take drastic action in the face of problem tenants. As such, it’s always worth seeking legal advice whenever you’re having issues with a particular tenant.
To avoid problems occurring in the first place, it’s always worth making sure you’ve fulfilled your responsibilities. Let’s run through a few of those responsibilities now.
Smoke and Fire Alarms
Each floor of your properties must, by law, have a smoke alarm installed. This is critical; if you get caught out by a fire and you haven’t taken this step, then the consequences could be dire. Any room with a coal or wood fire must be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector, and every appliance in the home that uses gas must come with an appropriate safety certificate. This means the boiler and gas cookers.
As well as installing these devices, you’ll need to make sure that everything is adequately maintained. Liaise with your tenants when you are thinking of having workmen around, as a courtesy. A letting agent can help with this.
Energy Performance Certificate
Prior to letting out the property, you’ll need to buy an EPC. This is a review which will assign your property a score based on its energy-efficiency. Anything less than an E is considered a fail, and will mean that you can’t rent out the property.
Protecting the Deposit
At the outset of a tenancy, it’s common practice to ask tenants to put up a deposit. This will cover any damage they inflict on the property, and provide peace of mind to the landlord. At the end of the tenancy, the deposit is returned to the tenant, provided that the property is in good condition.
It’s crucial that these deposits are held securely using a scheme that’s backed by the government, called a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (or TDP). This will ensure that no foul play can occur. The funds must be deposited into the scheme withing 30 days of them being paid.
TDP schemes come in two varieties – there are custodial schemes, which are free, and insured ones, which involve a charge. In the latter case, you’re covered against any loss.
Vet your Tenants
Your tenants will need the legal right to rent property in England (if that’s where you’re renting). Make sure that you’ve performed all of the necessary checks. Landlords are obliged to play their role in battling illegal immigration – and if you rent out a property to someone who isn’t entitled to rent, then you could face an unlimited fine, and up to five years in prison.