Being a landlord is no easy job and getting things wrong can be a costly exercise that can run into thousands of £££’s.
Getting it wrong is not an option when it comes to staying on the right side of the law, so we have written this article especially for landlords to help them avoid falling foul of the rules.
Being a landlord is no easy job and getting things wrong can be a costly exercise that can run into thousands of
Whether it be maintenance related, advertising for tenants or complying with the law, landlords need to be aware of their obligations. Of course, help is always at hand and so, we have written this article with a list of 5 top tips to help you stay on the safe side of the law.
- USE EXPERTS TO SUPPORT YOU – If you are not feeling well, you see a doctor. If you need tax advice, you see an Accountant or Tax Adviser so it stands to reason that you should speak to a good estate agent who has experience in letting and managing properties in your area.You can’t relinquish all your legal responsibilities but you can pass much of the burden to your estate agent who can:
- Check your property and the contents inside comply with the law
- Help apply for licencing where required (EG. Applying for a HMO licence)
- Marketing for tenants and;
- Carry out the necessary checks before the keys are handed to the tenant (EG. Employment & Financial checks or Guarantor Agreements etc.)
Make sure your agent is a member of industry recognised professional bodies such as The Property Ombudsman and complies with appropriate regulation such as being a member of a Client Money Protection Scheme and observes Anti Money Laundering procedures. You can be confident that these agents are properly trained and always keep up to date with the latest legislation and local city council requirements.
2. KEEPING RECORDS – There are plenty of rules around Health & Safety that require checks and tests to be carried out frequently. It’s good practice to keep a clear written record of these or receive them from your agent so you can prove you have taken every reasonable step to keep your tenants safe EG. fire & legionella risk assessments, fire alarm testing and PAT testing of electrical equipment..
3. SPEAK TO YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITY – Many people underestimate the role that their local authority has in their area. Your city councils is a great source of information and can give valuable guidance on:
- HMO licencing
- Article 4 areas
- Pest Control
- Environmental Health Services
- Council Tax Your responsibilities as a landlord when it comes to paying council tax and the way Houses in Multiple Occupancy are treated
- Planning, building regulations and housing departments to find out what their policies are for your specific type of let, particularly if you are converting or extending a property.
Don’t ignore improvement notices from your council. If you inadvertently fall foul of regulations, your local authority may issue a warning, possibly in the form of an ‘improvement notice’. This outlines what’s wrong and how to put things right within a certain timeframe. Landlords who continually ignore improvement notices are at risk of hefty fines (sometime as much as £30,000 or even more). Keeping a good line of communication with your council, demonstrating you are doing all you can to fix problems and providing a good, safe home for your tenants, you should be able to avoid fines or further action.
4. TIMELY COMMUNICATION – With the recent introduction of the Fitness for Habitation legislation which came into force in March, tenants have additional rights to take landlords directly to court themselves. So, if you do receive any communication from your tenants about problems with your property, make sure you take it seriously, respond quickly and remember to keep written records at each stage of the process.
5. TIME TO TALK TO NICHOLAS HUMPHREYS (SHEFFIELD – BROOMHILL & CROOKES) – We help landlords rent their properties to students and working professionals.
We can provide you expert advice on renting your property and can help you keep up to date with changes in legislation, meaning that you and your property always remain compliant. Whether you are an experienced landlord, just entered the buy-to-let market or are thinking about investing in a rental property in Sheffield, it makes good sense to contact us and see how we can help you.
Call us on 0114 470 4715. Our office is open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm.