I’ve had a question in from a reader asking, ‘What are the responsibilities of a landlord?’.
That’s a great question, and there’s two different ways at looking at this.
Firstly, from a moral point of view, the responsibility of the landlord is to provide good, safe, sound, watertight, good quality properties, so that a tenant can live in a property in relative comfort and safety.
But, of course, as well as moral responsibilities, there are legal responsibilities that we have as landlords as well.
There are two particular ways in which legal responsibilities are passed to us.
The first is by law, for example by an Act of Parliament.
And the second is through the tenancy agreement itself.
Let’s just think about the law. The law is always changing and over the last few years, the government has been interfering, if that’s the word, more and more in the private rented sector and imposing more and more obligations on landlords.
But the basic obligations you’re going to find as a landlord is these.
In terms of keeping the property safe you’re going to have annual gas safety checks if there is gas in the property. When you let the property out you should have an electrical certificate. When you let the property out, believe it or not, it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure a tenant complies with home office regulations on immigration so you’re going to have to make sure that they’ve got a valid passport and you know who they are and where they come from.
There is an obligation on the landlord to make sure that the money you’re taking on the rent hasn’t been laundered and of course there is a presumption that you’re going to be keeping the property in sound and watertight condition and the property is going to be safe for the tenant. Within the tenancy agreement itself, most tenancy is nowadays going to be short-hold tenancies. The obligations for a landlord are going to be that you’re going to keep the property wind, watertight, safe, again.
But specifically, a landlord is going to be responsible for repairs. In most tenancies the tenant is going to be responsible for a certain amount of wear and tear. To be honest though that can be very hard to prove at the end of the tenancy unless you’ve got a full-blown inventory showing exactly what the property was like at the beginning of the tenancy.
When you let the property you will need to comply with all of these requirements so that if you ever need to take repossession of the property through a Section 21 notice as it currently is, and that’s all changing as well by the way, you are able to do so.
So at the letting stage …..
You have to give the tenant a booklet which the government provide which tells them all about renting (The Government Guide to Renting Property)
You have to give them a copy of the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) which shows how much energy the property is using and whether it is environmentally friendly
You have to give them copies of the gas safety certificate and the electrical certificate.
You need to check the smoke alarms are present and working.
You need to do your checks as to eligibility of the tenant (immigration compliant)
And you need to get your tenant to sign off that you have done all of this.
If you’re taking a deposit, it is very, very important that you have the deposit protected properly, and there are various schemes that you can pay the deposit into and insure the deposit with. If you don’t do that then, again, it could invalidate a future Section 21 Notice, and if you’ve got a bad tenant who’s causing trouble that could be really serious for you.
And you’ll need to keep your tenant updated and informed about how, where and when the deposit has been protected.
So, there we are, that’s a very quick overview of the responsibilities of a landlord.
If you’re thinking about being a property investor though, remember that most of this will be dealt with by your managing agent if you have one – in my opinion the level of regulation and compliance is a good argument for having a managing agent.
But you will need to have processes in place, check lists in place, just to make sure they do everything they should because ultimately, even if they manage the property for you, responsibility rests with you, the landlord.
Peter Jones B.Sc FRICS
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