Being a landlord is not as simple as it used to be, there are many legal obligations and responsibilities – and good tenants look for good landlords who follow the rules willingly.
The rules that are in place, are there for good reason and help to keep tenants and landlords safe, so being a good landlord is well worth the price and effort involved. Which is why your lettings agent is there to help and it is worth remembering, that not knowing the law is no excuse in a court.
So to help you out here are some (non-exhaustive) starting points – but do seek professional advice from Grace, if you get stuck:
Do NOT ignore this law above all else. You must ensure there is a gas inspection on all appliances in the property every year by a qualified and certified inspector with the Gas Safe accreditation. The inspector will issue a safety certificate or list essential repairs before it’s issued. Your tenant is entitled to a copy. We don’t want to sound like scaremongers, but faulty gas appliances can kill (usually by carbon monoxide poisoning) this is why it is the law.
You need to have an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report), your home’s wiring system checked out and any appliances you’re including PAT tested before your tenants move in. Again this needs to be carried out by a qualified electrician.
If you are including furniture in your rental property, it must meet fire safety standards and you must evidence this.
That lovely month’s rent taken as a deposit is not yours. You may hold it but it legally remains the tenant’s money and therefore, if you keep it as cash, you legally need to have proof of a government-approved scheme (account) so the tenant knows it is safe and protected.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s)
You need to have your property assessed for energy efficiency to help the tenant in the decision-making process, this includes heating bills and general efficiency for the property. This is valid for 10 years and is required by law.
There are lots of versions but your tenant is entitled to a proper agreement and you want to have one in place too. Legally an agreement can be verbal for up to three years but they’re not worth the paper they’re written on.
Legally you don’t need any but that’s a BIG risk to take. Plus, unless you’re buying cash, your mortgage company will insist on it. Don’t take a short cut with normal buildings insurance – you’ll need landlord insurance. If you buy domestic insurance they’ll happily take your money – but won’t payout if you claim. Therefore, we recommend you do your research.