Renting out a property can be a good way of making extra money but there are rules and regulations you need to stick to. Letting Agents HomeLet have a wealth of information on the rights of tenants and landlords, so if you are considering becoming a landlord for the first time or if you need a reminder of both your obligations and those of your tenant, read on:
Familiarise yourself with the Housing Act 1988
The Housing Act 1988 is the legal statute governing English property law. It dictates when you can and cannot do as a landlord and there are certain requirements that must be adhered to by law. The Housing Act 1988 is there to protect the interests of both landlord and tenant and its rules cannot be changed or argued.
What if I disagree with something in the Housing Act 1988? Can I over-rule it within the Tenancy Agreement?
No. The tenancy agreement contains further rules for you and your tenant to agree on such as payment dates, rates of rent, length of lease, whether they can keep pets or not, that kind of thing. You cannot argue with the laws and legal requirements set out in the Housing Act 1988. If your clauses within the tenancy agreement do not adhere to the statutory laws of the Housing Act 1988, the tenancy agreement will be deemed invalid.
Yes, you can visit your property. No, you can’t do so whenever it suits you
The property is yours so you have the right to go and inspect it whenever you wish, right? Wrong. As a landlord you need to give your tenant a minimum of 24 hours notice before making a visit to the property. If you turn up at the door expecting to be let in, don’t be surprised if your tenant turns you away. They have every right to refuse you entry unless 24 hours notice has been given. However, in an emergency, you’ll be entitled to immediately enter the property to carry out any necessary work. An emergency would constitute circumstances such as a fire, the smell of gas, structural damage or the suspicion of a violent or criminal incident.
What can I do with my tenant’s deposit?
Whilst it is not a legal requirement to request a deposit from a new tenant, it can help provide you with a little financial security in the event of them causing damage to your property which needs to be repaid or in the event of the tenant falling into rent arrears. Typically, you can charge one month’s rent as the deposit amount, which must then be placed in one of three Government backed Tenancy deposit schemes. These schemes were introduced to ensure that tenants meeting the terms of the agreement would receive their deposit back on leaving the property. Do note that even if you use a lettings agency, it is the landlord’s responsibility to place the deposit into one of the schemes.
What is an EPC and do I really need to provide one?
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) must be provided before you even begin to market your property to prospective tenants. The information it needs to contain includes the typical energy costs of the property, energy usage and information on ways that energy consumption within it can be decreased. You cannot carry out the assessment yourself but will need to hire an accredited assessor to carry out the EPC for your property.
Do I need to carry out checks on prospective tenants?
Yes, you do, and it is vitally important that checks are thoroughly made in order to ascertain whether a prospective tenant has a right to rent. Suitable checks must be carried out on all tenants and occupiers of your property that are 18 or over, checking original documents and keeping copies for legal purposes along with a note of the date you completed the checks. Failure to do so will incur up to a £3,000 fine if it is discovered that you have rented a property to a person who does not have the legal right to rent in England.
Where can I find out more?
These points are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to renting out a property. Whilst renting a property can be a worthwhile investment, you do need to ensure that you are complying with the law. Find out more before you make the jump and follow the hashtag #RentingRules to keep up to date with rules within the world of landlords and tenants.