Many people choose property as an investment as it is seemingly low risk and can generate a good return. To generate an income (as well as capital growth) from property, you may decide to let the property to tenants. Generally, under an assured shorthold tenancy.
When considering the potential risks of letting, landlords usually think along the lines of tenants skipping rent or causing damage. However, landlords, especially those new to lettings, often fail to realise just how heavily regulated the private rental sector is. Landlords will only be profitable if they avoid the penalties and potential prosecutions that often catch landlords out.
There is a considerable amount of law regulating both landlords and the condition of the property they are letting out. And this law is ever changing due to new legislation and case law. Some examples include:
– You, as a landlord, are responsible for keeping the property in a good and safe condition. If at any point your property falls below this standard, you are responsible for making any necessary repairs in a timely manner. At Woodstock we have seen a growing number of claims against landlords for failing to keep the property in repair.
– You are responsible for providing the tenant with the relevant guides and safety certificates within a certain time period.
– You’re also responsible for dealing with the deposit in accordance with the relevant legislation and the rules of the deposit protection scheme.
– You, the home owner are responsible for acquiring the relevant licenses that may be necessary to rent the property.
– You are responsible for ending the tenancy in accordance with the relevant legislation, should you wish to do so.
If you fail to comply with the relevant legislation, you could face large financial penalties and potential criminal prosecution. Or, you could find yourself unable to evict a difficult tenant, and in some cases having to pay rent back to them.
It is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card to have an agent managing your property. It is essential that your chosen agent is up to date on the relevant law. They’ll help ensure your tenancy is compliant and your obligations as a landlord have been and continue to be met. This can prove a difficult task for agents as the law adapts so quickly it can at times seem impossible to keep up.
If you choose to manage the property yourself, it is crucial that you ensure you are fully up to date with the current legislation. Make sure that you have sufficient processes and record keeping systems which allow you to demonstrate compliance. Letting a property needs to be treated as a professional business.
The anticipated rental reforms will bring more change in legislation. They’ll clearly demonstrate a further push towards professionalism of the industry.
At Woodstock Legal Services, we work closely with multiple agents, providing them with regular training and a legal helpline. We ensure that they are up to date with the law and can provide the best service to their landlords. We also work closely with landlords directly and can assist you before any issues occur. Ask us to review your paperwork to ensure you are compliant at the commencement of your tenancy, and of course we’ll assist you with any queries you may have throughout the duration of your tenancy.