Whether you are an experienced landlord looking to expand your portfolio or an accidental landlord who has inherited a property the amount of legislation and changes to it can be a little daunting. We have collated this information for you as an introduction to your legal responsibilities as a landlord. It is not a fully comprehensive but more or a starting point for you.
Health & Safety
As a landlord you must keep your rented properties safe and free from health hazards. You are normally responsible for the repairs to:
– the structure of your property
– basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings
– heating and hot water systems
– anything you damage through attempting repairs
The council use The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to ensure properties are safe for the people living in them. They may decide to inspect your property if they have completed a survey on local properties and think yours may be hazardous or if your tenants have asked for an inspection.
If the council decide to inspect your property they will look at 29 health and safety areas and depending on the urgency will categorise each hazard either 1 or 2. They can then issue you with an improvement notice, fix the hazard themselves and bill you for it or stop you or anybody else using part or all of the building.
You must action an enforcement notice however you do have the right to appeal.
Gas & Electric
All gas and electrical equipment provided by yourself must be safely installed and maintained.
Annual gas safety checks are required by law and must be completed by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The certificate for this check must be provided to the tenant before they move in and each year thereafter. If you fail to do this you can face fines up to £6000 and 6 months in prison. You will also lose your Section 21 rights.
It is strongly recommended to have an electrical safety inspection completed at least once every 5 years as well as any portable electrical appliances yourself as the landlord may have provided. If you are a landlord of a HMO you are required to do this by law.
Most rented premises will be low risk for Legionnaires Disease however it is important that risk assessments are carried out and control measures introduced. You do not need to employ a consultant to complete the assessment; as long as you are competent there is normally no reason why you couldn’t complete this yourself.
Energy Performance Certificate
You must have an Energy Performance Certificate in place before a tenant moves into your property and as of April 2018 the EPC rating must be an ‘E’ or above. A copy of this certificate must be given to your tenant when they move in as if not you will not be able to Service a Section 21 notice.
How to Rent Guide
You must give your tenant the most recent version of the governments How to Rent checklist when they start renting from you as if not, again, you may not be able to service them with a Section 21 notice if you needed to obtain possession of the property.
Right to Rent
Since the 1st February 2016 you are required to check the I.D of all people aged 18 or above who will be living in your property to determine their immigration status. You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for renting your property to somebody who is not allowed to stay in England. It is against the law to only check people you think are not British citizens.
If you request a deposit from your tenant it must be protected in one of the three government approved scheme and the prescribed information relating to the deposit given to the tenant within 30 days of receiving the deposit payment. The tenant could sue you for up to three times the deposit amount if you fail to protect their deposit.
It is your responsibility to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of your rental property which is used as living accommodation, and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used – after that, you must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
Any furniture or furnishings you provide must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 and be “fire resistant”. Furniture that complies with the regulation should display a permanent label.
Your property will be classed as a House in Multiple Occupation if there are at least 3 tenants living there forming more than one household and the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities are shared.
A HMO must have licence if it is occupied by 5 or more people. The council has to carry out a HHSRS risk assessment within 5 years of receiving a licence.
If you have a mortgage on the property you wish to rent out you must obtain permission from the mortgage lender.
You must also pay Income Tax on your rental income, minus your day-to-day running expenses and Class 2 National Insurance if the work you do renting out property counts as running a business.
You would be classed as running a business if being a landlord is your main job and you rent out more than one property or if you’re buying new properties to rent out.
The best thing you can do as a landlord is protect yourself from unexpected expenses relating to your rental properties. You will need buildings insurance as a minimum but there is additional cover you can add that will cover most eventualities such as landlords’ contents, accidental damage, emergency cover, legal expenses and rent guarantee.