Throughout most of history, being a landlord has essentially meant keeping a property wind and watertight and collecting the rent. These days, however, landlords not only have to maintain a property to legally-acceptable standards, they have to comply with a whole raft of legislation and by-laws, which can and do change.
When considering whether or not you could benefit from the services of a property-management agent, you should probably be thinking less about the practicalities of property maintenance (although property-management agents can be very useful in this regard) and more about whether or not you could benefit from legal advice. Here are some areas of the law with which property-management agents can provide assistance.
The right-to-rent legislation is simple in theory; landlords in England are obliged to check the immigration status of prospective tenants before agreeing to a new tenancy. In practice, however, this area of the law is nightmarishly complicated and to make matters worse if you are found to be in breach of it, you could wind up in prison, although the limited examples of convictions under this legislation suggest that a fine is far more likely.
What’s more, the law is under legal challenge (which is why it has not been rolled out to other areas of the UK), but that does not necessarily mean it will be revoked, it could simply be amended to a point where the government believes that it is compliant with the human rights legislation under which it was challenged, but if the interested parties disagree, it could be challenged again and amended again…
The Equality Act
If you practice any sort of tenant selection then you need to make absolutely sure that your tenant-selection criteria are demonstrably in compliance with the Equality Act. You may think that this is an absolute no-brainer, but actually it can be surprisingly easy to be challenged on it, especially if you decline to accept a person on benefits. You may win your case, but even if you are awarded costs (and manage to claim them), you will still have to put up with the burden on your time and energy.
Even with the best tenant selection in the world, you can run into issues with tenants failing to pay their rent in full and/or on time. Obviously, these issues need to be resolved and they need to be resolved in a way which is both effective and legal. In some cases, a firm but tactful conversation may be all that is required to resolve the matter, for example, if your tenant is having temporary cash-flow issues and not sure how to deal with it, then it may be possible to come to an arrangement that they pay what they can now and sort out the arrears later. Sometimes, however, enforcement action needs to be taken and it is crucial that this is undertaken in a legal manner in order to protect you from ending up being sued by the tenant who defaulted.