How to Make Sure Your Residential Letting Goes Smoothly: a Quick Guide for Landlords26th February 2018

Buy-to-let might seem like a nice way to build up some capital, or you might own a property you inherited or which was surplus after you moved in with a partner. Landlord and tenant legislation can be a minefield, though, and there are new rules which many landlords don’t know about. What you might think was only a technical breach of the rules might mean that you can’t recover arrears of rent, or get the tenant to leave. So here’s our brief guide to the landlord’s responsibilities at the beginning of the tenancy, and some pitfalls to watch out for.

Paperwork

You must provide the tenant as soon as possible with:

· A valid Energy Performance Certificate;

· A gas safety certificate;

· A copy of the leaflet called “How to rent: The checklist for renting in England”.

 

Fire and carbon monoxide

· There must be a smoke alarm on each floor;

· There must be a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that contains a solid fuel heating appliance and is used as living accommodation.

· The alarms must be tested at the start of a new tenancy.

 

Checking immigration status of tenants

Landlords need to check that the proposed tenant has the right to live in the UK. Failure to do this can give rise to a fine of up to £3000. You need (at the moment) to see an original British, EEA or Swiss passport or ID card, or other proof of right to remain in the UK, for every adult who will be living in the property. Keep a record of the documents you have been shown.

 

Dealing with the deposit or bond

If you ask your tenant for a damage deposit, you cannot keep this yourself in your bank account. The bond must be lodged with a government approved tenancy deposit scheme. If this requirement is missed, not only will you not be able to serve a s. 21 Notice asking your tenant to leave the property, but you may be liable for damages of up to three times the amount of the deposit.

 

Inventory

It’s a good idea to have an inventory taken at the start of the tenancy – if not, this can be a recipe for disputes.

 

More (legal) paperwork

You’ll want to give your tenant:

· A written tenancy agreement (usually an Assured Shorthold Agreement);

· Legal notice in the correct form of any special reasons you might want to ask them to leave at the end of the tenancy, e.g. you want the house back to live in it yourself.

· Tenants who pay rent weekly are entitled to a rent book.

Hopefully these notes will give you a flavour of some of the issues you have to bear in mind. The law quite rightly protects the tenant from unsafe premises and other abuses, but the multitude of technical rules can be a nightmare to negotiate for the non-professional landlord. It’s easy to make a mistake in all good faith. There’s lots of help and information out there, though – if in doubt, try asking: · A landlord association such as the Residential Landlords Association (www.rla.org.uk) or the National Landlords Association (www.nla.org.uk);

· Your local authority;

· The CAB;

· A professional managing agent; or

· A solicitor.

NB: This blog is only a summary of a few important points and isn’t a substitute for legal advice. In particular, the rules are different for:

· Houses in multiple-occupation in England;

· Tenancies in Scotland and Wales.

For help and advice in this area, please contact our landlord expert, Callum Robertson on callum.robertson@emgsolicitors.com