Pressure has grown on buy-to-let landlords in recent years, with new legislation meaning that they have more legal obligations than ever before.
If you're thinking of getting into buy to let, you can keep on top of everything by following our simple list of tips for landlords:
First things first, you'll need to check with your local council to see if you need a landlord license. Back in 2006, some areas introduced the licensing process to clamp down on rogue landlords.
You'll also need a license if you plan to rent out individual rooms to 5 or more people in the same property (e.g. student accommodation). These are known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and come with extra responsibilities. You can learn more here.
As of April 2018, any property being let must have a valid Energy Performance Certificate. Your property must also have a minimum EPC rating of 'E'. If you're caught arranging a tenancy without one, you could face a hefty fine and may even be banned from managing your property. This would render you unable to collect rent but still liable for mortgage repayments and maintenance costs.
Make sure your property is up to scratch in terms of its energy performance by following our guide on improving your property's eco-friendly appeal.
Think about the type of person you're trying to attract and get the property ready for them. If you're planning to rent the property as furnished, ensure you choose modern furniture with a wide appeal.
When you're listing your property, focus on promoting its most attractive features - the garden, off-road parking etc. Above all, make sure that it's clean, tidy and safe.
When you're looking for a landlord insurance policy, you'll want to ensure it covers loss of rent, damages, legal expenses and liabilities.
Most standard buildings insurance does not provide the level of protection you’ll need, so it’s worth shopping around for specialist landlord cover. If you don’t tell your buildings insurance provider that you’re renting out your property, your policy won't be valid.
As a landlord, you are required by law to have all gas appliances in the property checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer every year. You must provide your tenant(s) with a Gas Safety Certificate within 28 days of the annual check.
It's also a landlord's responsibility to ensure that smoke alarms are be fitted on every floor of the property and carbon monoxide detectors are in any room where solid fuel (such as wood or charcoal) is used. On the first day of the tenancy, you should test all of the alarms to make sure they're working properly.
You must make sure that your rental property is fit for human habitation. If you violate the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, it is classed as a criminal offence and your tenant(s) could take legal action against you.
A tenancy agreement is not a legal requirement, but having a contract between you and your tenant is crucial - especially when it comes to things like rent arrears. Make sure it's an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement and get a solicitor to help you draw it up.
At present, you could be fined or even face jail if you fail to carry out Right to Rent checks. However, this could change in the future as Right to Rent has been challenged in the High Court.
You should also protect yourself by ensuring that rental applicants are both reliable and responsible. This means checking their credit eligibility and getting references from previous landlords.
You must protect tenants’ deposits safely in a government-accredited scheme within 30 days of receiving it. Once you’ve done that, you need to provide your tenant with the Deposit Protection Certificate and Prescribed Information.
Since June 1, 2019, the amount of deposit you can take from a tenant is capped at five weeks' rent or six if the rental costs amount to more than £50,000 a year.
It's a good idea to check on the state of your property regularly. If you want to do this, you should stipulate this in the tenancy agreement. It is best practice to give your tenant(s) 48 hours' written notice prior to an inspection.
Remember, it is against the law to enter the property without the tenant's knowledge and consent.
Want to learn more about the landlord life? Head on over to the Buy to Let section of our blog, where you'll find all the information you need!
Ready to take the plunge? Arrange a FREE consultation with one of our team.