Published On: Thu, Apr 9th, 2015

Landlord Responsibilities: Helpful Hints for Newcomers to the UK Renting Game

With interest at historically low levels for a number of years, many investors have turned their attention to the property market as a way of making their money work harder for them.

Creating a property portfolio and becoming a landlord is an attractive proposition to many, but it can be quite a daunting challenge if you are new to the renting game.

Here is a look at the essentials that you need to know and what your responsibilities are as a landlord, in order to look after your property and also safeguard your tenants.

Letting out your property

You may decide to let out your existing home rather than sell it when you find somewhere else or decide to acquire a separate investment property.

Regardless of your scenario, if you are letting out a residential property, it will be under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) under the Housing Act 1988. This is the default agreement used unless you specifically agree a different form of tenancy in writing beforehand.

photo Alina Ku-Ku via Shutterstock

photo Alina Ku-Ku via Shutterstock

An ASD gives you automatic rights and obligations as the landlord. The document provides you with the guaranteed right to get your property back after six months have expired, if you want to. It also provides you with the framework to be able to charge a market rent, and it also gives you the ability to reclaim possession before six months have expired if the tenant fails to pay and is at least 8 weeks in arrears.

Signed documentation

You should never allow a tenant to move into your property until they have signed the tenancy agreement and agreed a monthly rental figure and paid a deposit.

If you allow someone to rent your home under an informal arrangement or agree a deal verbally, this can cause considerable legal issues, as once your tenant is in occupation, you do not have the same ability to make them sign an agreement, so always make sure the paperwork is done before handing over the keys.

There are considerable benefits to having a formal agreement as it gives you legal powers and rights if things go wrong and it allows you to make stipulations such as no pets allowed, which can then be enforced if these rules are broken.

Taking a deposit

All deposits are now covered under the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, which came into force in April 2007.

This scheme is designed to safeguard a tenants deposit from unscrupulous landlords and also provides a recognised procedure for sorting out disputes.

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to place the deposit money you receive into an authorised deposit scheme within thirty days of receiving, and notify the tenant about the scheme.

Gas and electrical safety

Rental property gas safety is a key priority and the safety of gas installations and appliances at the property are the landlord’s responsibility.

You need to ensure that safety checks and any repair work is carried out on appliances at the property at least every 12 months. You will have to use someone who is listed on the Gas Safe Register and keep an accurate record of all inspection dates and repairs carried out.

The same rules apply for electrical appliances at the property and any heaters, cookers or other electrical goods need to be checked annually to ensure that they are safe and working properly.

Create an inventory

Another important part of preparing your property for a new tenant, is to create a detailed inventory.

This means that you should create a list of all the furniture and other items that are in the house at the time the tenant moves in together with a description of the items and their age and condition.

The tenant should sign and agree that the contents of the inventory are correct as this helps resolves any disputes or issues when they come to move out and you check the inventory again to make sure that everything is as you left it.

Repairs to the property

You can write terms in the tenancy agreement that puts the responsibility on your tenant to keep the property in a good state of repair.

The law does intervene if the tenants are deemed to have been given too much responsibility, so try to find a fair compromise and accept that as a landlord, you will need to spend money each year on getting some repairs done and keeping the property in good order, just as you would if you were living there as an owner/occupier.

If you follow this relatively simple but proven format for renting your property and understand your responsibilities, it can work out to be a rewarding way of getting a return on your investment in property.

Gerald Lucero is a landlord and property investor. He enjoys writing about the latest real estate topics. His articles appear on many finance and real estate websites.

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