A Landlords Guide to Renting Out a Property

There are many legal requirements when it comes to letting a property, designed to protect you as the landlord, as well as your tenant. It is absolutely vital that these requirements are met, but what exactly are they?

Gas Safety

The first important requirement is an annual inspection of the gas supply and any gas appliances at the property.

This must be carried out by a Registered Gas Engineer who must check all gas appliances in rented accommodation annually. This is compulsory under Gas Safety Regulations and it is the responsibility of the Landlord to arrange for these checks to be carried out and to keep a written report on the condition of each appliance, when each appliance was checked, and any defects found and repaired.

Failure to comply with Gas Safety Regulations may lead to prosecution and/or imprisonment with fines up to £25,000.00.

Electrical Safety

Secondly, an electrical safety check must be commissioned prior to the commencement of a tenancy and must be carried out by a competent person to ensure that the electricity supply and all appliances are legal. The landlord must supply instruction manuals where needed to the tenant for safe use.

All electrical appliances in let accommodation must be safe. This applies to both new and second-hand appliances, fixed appliances, and covers all electrical items supplied for the intended use of the tenant.

Failure to comply with the Electrical Regulations may constitute a criminal offence that carries a maximum penalty of a £5,000.00 fine and/or six months imprisonment.

Energy Performance Certificate and Energy Efficiency Rating

It is a legal requirement that any property marketed to rent has an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate made available to any prospective tenant.

Energy Efficiency takes into account factors such as insulation, heating and hot water systems, ventilation and fuels used.

Furthermore, regulations require private rental properties to be brought up to a minimum level of energy efficiency from 1st April 2018. The changes mean that F and G rated properties will become illegal to let out.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is a Government backed scheme where the tenants deposit is placed within either a Free Custodial Administered Account or an Insurance Scheme where the landlord holds the deposit but pays a premium as ‘insurance’ to pay back the deposit.

A landlord must within 14 days give the tenant details on how the money is protected and the details of the scheme selected.

Landlords Insurance

Any mortgage company will insist that a landlord takes out Landlords Insurance on a buy to let property – a standard owner’s insurance policy will not be sufficient to protect the landlord if the worst were to happen.

Proper Landlords Insurance covers the property for both buildings and contents and can protect the landlord’s capital investment and property from damages caused by fire and flood, and most importantly it can also help protect the income stream received through the tenants paying rent.

Furniture & Regulations 

The Fire and Safety Regulations (soft furnishings) states that all furnishings (beds, sofas, chairs and the like) comply with the latest fire regulations. A landlord must ensure that they do not have any non-compliant furnishings in a rental property.

Failure to comply with the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations may constitute a criminal offence that carries a maximum penalty of a £5,000.00 fine and/or six months imprisonment.

Tenant Referencing and Rent Guarantee Insurance

For a landlord, it is essential to understand the background of a tenant, their financial history and whether they will be a reliable tenant. By using a tenant referencing company, a landlord can be assured that letting to a potential tenant is safe and secure.

Rent Guarantee is an insurance premium paid by the landlord so that in the event that the tenant fails to pay the rent, the insurance cover will protect the landlord from bad debts of tenants.

Tenancy Agreement

A tenancy agreement is a legal written agreement setting out the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant. A Tenancy Agreement will normally include specific details including the length of the agreement, the rent payable, an inventory, and what the tenant is and isn’t allowed to do in the property.

Buy to Let Mortgages 

A buy to let mortgage is a loan, just as with a standard residential mortgage, but specifically for purchasing residential property which is to be let to tenants rather than lived in by the borrower. A standard residential mortgage would be unsuitable for buy-to-let purposes and Interest rates and fees are typically higher than those of a standard residential mortgage and usually require a larger deposit too. This is because buy-to-let purchasers are higher risk for mortgage lenders as landlords typically rely on rental income to repay the mortgage, so if a landlord is unable to secure a tenant, the property is left unoccupied, or tenants fail to make rental payments, there is a chance landlords won’t be able to keep up mortgage repayments.

So, how can we help? 

Many landlords find they have gaps in their knowledge about rights and responsibilities towards tenants. Here at Bennett Griffin, we are happy to help, having not only dealt with a large number of buy-to-let property purchases but we also have a dedicated direct-dial Helpline for Private Landlords.

 

The information contained in this article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice. Professional advice should always be taken on the application of the law in any particular situation.