Helpful advice and reminders for all private landlords
It seems one of the many things that are constant in our lives are the constant change to legislation. Many seem like knee jerk reactions to problems that do not exist other than in the minds of Politicians and the media.
However, as property professionals we must abide by the legislation or run the risk of further costs in the way of fines. I like you, do not want to be paying out if it is unnecessary, therefor compiled a list of advice that should help you avoid additional expenses.
Subscribe to several email blast such as ours, each business will discuss legislation that impacts them, by subscribing to a few, you will cover all your bases. Political beliefs aside the government does provide communication of upcoming and confirmed legislation. It is worth monitoring their bulletins. Join a good property forum, they quite often discuss impending legal changes well before they happen. Attend your local property meetings. All of the above should provide you with sufficient knowledge to meet your legal obligations as a landlord.
Documentation, I have seen several tenant evictions take longer due to lack of proper documentation, especially if you are considering a section 21 eviction. It is good practice to ensure your tenant signs for all documentation. Remember they need at least the following:
An EPC, a gas safety certificate,
The government’s “How to Rent” guide,
The deposit statutory information and scheme rules,
The tenancy agreement.
Carry out a detailed dilapidation survey prior to letting out your property. Photo and video documentation is very helpful, especially if the tenancy goes wrong and you need to remove the tenant. Always get a written agreement from the tenant on the condition of the property prior to the tenancy. Having it clean and tidy will help rent the property quickly.
As mentioned earlier if there are any gas appliances, you need a gas safety certificate from a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. I know this sounds obvious but always check the engineer’s credentials, there are people out there taking illegal advantage of all this legislation. Make sure the certificate is renewed every year when the gas appliances are checked and serviced, and make sure you give a copy of a current gas safety certificate to the tenant/s when the tenancy begins, and on renewal.
If you supply the property with any soft furnishings make sure they meet the proper safety requirements and have a label to that effect. I would also photograph said labels, some tenants have been known to remove them in an effort to delay being evicted.
Have any electrical wiring or systems checked by a qualified electrician every five years. Any appliances would benefit from having a PAT certificate.
I find this one still amazes me. Have a good up-to-date tenancy agreement, which outlines the tenant’s and your own (landlords) obligations, should the tenancy go wrong and you need to evict your tenant, having a legal up to date agreement will help the process, an old agreement will definitely hinder removing any rogue tenants.
As much as many landlords find their local authorities unpopular and on occasions unhelpful, they are a good source of information, especially if your property is an HMO and/or your local authority runs a licensing scheme.
Ensure you have a detailed inventory and as part of the inspection that I mentioned earlier, consider undertaking a risk assessment, better to be prepared should something go wrong.
If the property is mortgaged, then make sure you make the lender aware that you are renting the property out and get the necessary consent from them. The last thing you want is your property being reposed by the finance company for breach of contract.
Again when it comes to insurance, be honest with the insurance company, I have seen cases where the landlord failed to notify the property was being let, something happened and the insurance company did not pay out. If an insurance company can find a way of not paying out then they will use that clause to keep their money in their bank.
If you feel the tenant is a bad tenant then contact myself or someone similar for free advice, far better to nip anything in the bud, sometimes a letter from us is sufficient to resolve issues.
Last but not least do not take anything personal, some bad tenants are very good at trying to make it personal to muddy the waters. Never enter a property without the tenants consent, if you believe the tenant has left the property or abandoned it, then there is a legal process you have to follow to regain possession of your property, strange but true.
Remember it is a criminal offence to unlawfully harass or evict a tenant and will end up costing you much more time and money than staying within the legal boundaries of the law.