Legal Obligations

Being a landlord brings with it many responsibilities and legal obligations. Legislation surrounding the residential property sector is constantly under review, leaving landlords at risk of falling foul of the law.

Selective licencing
Some properties within certain areas have selective licensing in place. This means that you will need to apply for a licence similar to that for an HMO before you can let it to a tenant. There are a number of conditions that must be complied with and further additional legal obligations. You are advised to check this with your local authority. Failure to comply with a selective licensing scheme can result in a criminal conviction.

Right to rent checks
Both landlords and agents now have a legal obligation to check that each tenant has a right to rent in Britain. Failing to carry out these checks can result in a fine and/or prosecution. If you instruct an agent to handle the property, you should make sure that it is noted within the agency agreement that these checks will be performed by the agent and that they take full responsibility for them.

Tenancy deposits
A tenant’s deposit must be protected in a government approved scheme, within 30 days of being paid to you, not from the start of the tenancy. You must also make sure that the tenant and anyone else who has contributed to the deposit (a partner, parent, guarantor etc) is given the prescribed information and the Department for Communities and Local Government ‘How to Rent in England’ publication. Failing to protect the deposit or bond can result in a fine of up to three times the amount of the deposit and will prevent you from serving a section 21 notice on the tenant.

Energy performance survey
Every new tenant must receive a copy of the EPC relating to the property they are renting, before the start of their tenancy. Failure to provide this may affect your ability to gain back possession of the property.

Gas safety checks
If the property has a gas supply or any gas appliances, you will need to ensure that you have an annual gas safety check performed by a qualified engineer. A copy of the safety certificate must be given to the tenant at the start of the tenancy and following each subsequent annual check.

Smoke & carbon monoxide alarms
You are responsible for making sure that there is both a smoke alarm on each floor of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that is used partly or wholly as living accommodation and which contains an appliance that burns or is capable of burning solid fuel. Failing to do this can result in a fine of £5,000 and a criminal conviction.

Legionnaire’s disease
All residential landlords have a legal obligation to assess the property and decide if a Legionnaire’s disease risk assessment is necessary. A risk assessment will be required if water is kept in a storage tank or is recirculated within the property. It’s worth remembering that other appliances pose a risk too, such as shower heads and long pipes. Failing to conduct a risk assessment can result in a hefty fine and/or imprisonment. You can find out more at www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires

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How we can help

Legislation relating to landlords is complex and frequently under review. We can make sure that you are always aware of your legal obligations and that you are updated as and when new legislation comes into force.

Whether you are new to the buy-to-let market, or you have an established property portfolio, we are able to tailor our service to meet your individual needs – offering as much or as little support as you want – the choice is yours. Call and discuss your business needs with our friendly team today.

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