Latest figures from the Land Registry show house prices have fallen 15.9% since
last year. Meanwhile, residential rents are rising. This has persuaded many
owners to ride out the current recession by renting property rather than selling
it. According to The Telegraph, “renting is the new elastic … no longer
the preserve of the can’t-haves and students, it’s being favoured by families,
job movers and young executives.” Before you dip your toes into the rental
market, however, you need to know the law:
1. Check your mortgage agreement
You may need consent from your mortgage lender to let the property.
2. Screen tenants
3. Prepare a formal tenancy agreement
Having a signed tenancy agreement will make it easier to deal with any
disputes, should they arise. Find a solicitor
who specialises in landlord-tenant law for advice.
4. Obtain an Energy Performance Certificate
5. Find out whether you need a property license
Houses in Multiple Occupation are subject to mandatory
licensing by local authorities. Rules vary by jurisdiction. Click on a link
below for further information:
6. Find out whether you need to register with your local
Scottish landlords must register with their local authorities. For more
information, visit Better Renting Scotland.
England, Northern Ireland, and Wales do not have mandatory landlord registration
schemes, but that could change soon.
7. Get all gas and electrical appliances checked
Landlords must maintain all gas appliances and arrange and pay for an annual
safety check by an engineer certified by Gas Safe
(Great Britain and the Isle of Man) or CORGI (Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands). For more
information, read Gas Safety
In addition, landlords should ensure the electrical system and all appliances
are safe to use. For more information, read Guide to Electrical Safety.
8. Minimise the risk from fire
All landlords must comply with UK fire safety regulations. For more
information, read Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Requirements and LACORS’
Fire Safety Guide.
9. Carry out repairs and maintenance to ensure your property is
habitable and presents no risk to your tenants’ health and safety
Rules on repairs and maintenance vary by jurisdiction:
- For property in England and Wales, read: (1) Assured Shorthold Tenancies; (2) Repairs; and (3) Housing Health and Safety Rating System.
- For property in Northern Ireland, read: (1) Private Tenancies; and (2) Repairs.
- For property in Scotland, visit the Private Rented
Housing Panel website and read: (1) Private Renting; (2) Repairs; and (3) if common property is an issue (e.g.,
you own a tenement ), Common Sense, Common Property.
10. Place rental deposit (if any) in a Tenant Deposit Protection
In England and Wales, almost all deposits should be protected by a Tenancy
Deposit Protection Scheme (TDPS). For more information, visit Directgov.
Scotland passed legislation to introduce mandatory TDPS in 2006; however, the
Scottish Government has delayed implementation and encouraged landlords to join
a voluntary accreditation scheme instead.
Currently, there is no mandatory TDPS in Northern Ireland, but the Northern
Ireland Executive recently announced it is being considered.
11. Consider using a property management company
Most of the above legal responsibilities have to be dealt with before you can
let your property. If you do not have time to do everything, you should
consider paying a property management company to do it for you.
12. When in doubt, always contact a
solicitor who can tailor advice to meet your unique circumstances
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