Climb up the Property Ladder
You’ve finally become a part of the property ladder and are eager to make a profit from your London property? Well then - congratulations but do you know what are your Legal Responsibilities, Obligations & Regulations as a Landlord?
If your answer is No, you’ve come to the right place - so keep on reading to ensure that everything is under control and will go as smoothly as possible.
First thing’s first - since 2006 property licensing is totally a thing, which may cost you up to £20,000 if you have failed to get your legally required landlord licensing from your local council.
This type of permission is required only if you’re renting in specific areas (the selection of those areas is based on low demand for housing and significant or persistent problems with anti-social behaviour ).
As a landlord in London, you can use the London Property Licensing website to find out whether the area in which your property is located is covered by the scheme (still have in mind that to checking with the local council remains the safest strategy and when we’re talking about thousands of pounds it’s best to be perfectly sure).
No need to worry though, if your home is within the borders of a selective licensing area. All you have to do is to fill an application form to apply for a licence (your local council will provide you one of those). Well, this doesn’t come free though, with fees that vary, but in most cases, they’re set to be £400 (for an ordinary flat or house occupied by one family).
The chances are that your council will require copies of all the safety certificates you’re obligated to have (gas, fire, etc.) plus the exact location of the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and the last on this list come to some details about your future tenants and the tenancy agreement that you’re about to sign with them (if you’re somehow impeded to follow this exact procedure someone else can do this for you after the council learn more about this exact person).
Once you get the licence, remember its exact date because the permission last five years and after the end you’ll find yourself back at square one.
Obtaining consent to let a property
Before letting a property, landlords must obtain permission and/or inform the following:
- their mortgage lender
- the head landlord - in case we’re talking about leasehold properties
- Any housing association or other body which has regulations applying to the property, especially in the case of shared ownership
- Any adult who has been living in the property with the landlord as legal spouse or partner who may have occupancy rights
- The insurance company which should be assured that any cover will be maintained if the property is let
Time to Meet the Requirements
It’s time to move on because there’s so much more paperwork to be done before the tenancy takes place. So read on and start checking all the things that we’ve gathered for you from the list below:
Gas Safety Regulations
The Gas Safety Regulations 1998 obligates all landlords of residential property to ensure that all gas appliances, pipework and flues are maintained in a safe condition.
Every year a Gas Safe Register Engineer must inspect all of the gas appliances, provided within the property. If everything is good to go, a warranted Gas Safety Certificate should be issued as proof for the inspection. Both - tenant and landlord - should keep a copy of this document.
If you’re about to sign with a new tenant, he or she should receive a copy of the certificate before occupying the premises.
Please note that only a Gas Safe registered engineer can conduct inspections and carry out repairs. So never ever try to take care of this sort of maintaining issues on your own or you won’t get the needed verification (not to mention that those kinds of actions may be life-threatening, as well).
The Housing Act 2004 and The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 both require the landlord to ensure that the property they provide is safe. All residential properties in England and Wales should comply with building regulations.
The Furniture and Furnishings Regulation 1993
Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 requires that all of the furniture provided by the landlord must meet the fire resistance requirements. This includes but is not limited to:
- beds, headboards of beds, mattresses
- sofas, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles
- nursery furniture
- garden furniture which is suitable for use in a dwelling
- scatter cushions, bean bags, window seats and seat pads; pillows
- padded stools and chests
- put-u-up beds and garden loungers/seats
- loose and stretch covers for furniture
In other words, basically anything that you can think of…
If you want to spare yourself the hassle have in mind that all of the furniture manufactured since March 1989 will surely comply with these regulations and most of it is marked with a label showing compliance.
Still there are some things on which the regulations do not apply. Such as:
- sleeping bags
- bed-clothes, duvets and pillowcases
- loose covers for mattresses
- curtains and carpets
You get the idea…
This is a serious matter though. Have in mind that non-compliance with the fire safety regulations is a criminal offence and carries penalties of a £5,000 fine, 6 month’s imprisonment, or both. In the event of a death (which is the exact reason why all the requirement must be covered before even think of leasing your property), charges could extend to manslaughter.
Fit for human habitation
All Landlords in UK are required to ensure that their leased properties are indeed
fit for human habitationnot only at the beginning but throughout the tenancy, as well.
What exactly does this demand means is stated in Section 10 of the Housing Act. So here are the factors which determined if your property is:
unfit for human habitation
- repair (i.e. the building shouldn’t be neglected and in bad condition)
- stability (i.e. the building shouldn’t be unstable)
- freedom from damp (i.e. there shouldn’t be any serious damp issues, although minor ones can be a problem, as well)
- internal arrangement (i.e. the property shouldn’t have an unsafe layout)
- natural lighting (i.e. there should be enough natural light in the property)
- ventilation (i.e. there should be enough ventilation in the property)
- water supply (i.e. there should be a supply of hot and cold water)
- drainage and sanitary conveniences (i.e. there shouldn’t be any problems with the drainage or the lavatories)
- there should be facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water in the property
The property will be regarded as unfit for human habitation only if it is so far defective in one or more of those matters that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation in its current condition.
Repairs & Maintenance
The landlord is responsible for both - the structure and the exterior of the property. This includes baths, sinks and other sanitary items; heating and hot water installations.
However, if you and your tenant have signed a contract for more than 7 years, these issues become the tenants responsibility and the landlord won’t be responsible for damages caused by the tenants.
Still, under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the landlord is responsible for:
- keeping the structure and exterior of the property in good repair – this as well includes drains, gutters and external pipes
- keeping installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, space heating, water heating and sanitation in good repair and proper working order
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
Unlike the Gas Safety Regulations, when it comes to safety of the power supply network, there is currently no mandatory legal requirement for any inspections or certificates. Still, you have to prove that the electrics are safe and the best way to do so is by conducting regular and routine checks (e.g.
Electrical Installation Condition Reports) by hiring a qualified electrician.
We hope that you’ll find the following guidelines helpful enough:
- all of the habitable parts of the property should be accessible
- leads should not be worn or frayed and must be completed without joins
- trailing leads and the use of multiple plug adaptors should be avoided
- correct plugs should be fitted and properly fused
- plug sockets should be firmly fastened to the wall or the skirting
- electric blankets should be serviced according to the manufacturer’s instructions
- microwave doors should be clean, free from corrosion and effective
- washing machines, cookers and all electric devices should be serviced and in good working order
- electrical heaters and central heating appliances should be serviced annually
- any fire extinguishers should be marked
Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994
According to this regulation, any plug, socket or adapter, supplied for intended domestic use, must comply with the appropriate current standard, therefore the live and neutral pins on plugs should be properly insulated in order to prevent shocks when removing plugs from sockets, and all plugs have to be pre-wired.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Landlords have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate to all new and prospective tenants during the viewing and especially before the tenancy agreements are signed.
The certificate gives each building a SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) rating, which will equate to an energy rating from A to G.
In other words – it reports the energy efficiency levels of a property, so tenants can assess how much they will have to spend on energy-consuming utility bills.
A certificate like this is valid for 10 years, afterwards the property needs to be reassessed again and issued with a new and valid certificate.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015
Since 1 October 2015, all landlords in England are required to:
- have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their rental property, which is used as a living accommodation
- have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room, used as a living accommodation, where solid fuel appliances are contained
- check that each prescribed alarm is in proper working order on the day each new tenancy begins and during the lease period as well
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Yes we know that this one sounds a bit odd, to put it mildly, but GDPR is definitely a thing nowadays and when it comes to leasing, it adds some extra paperwork, as well.
GDPR came into effect on the 25th May 2018, and like it or not, it already applies to all landlords in the UK.
So to live up to the trend and cover this requirement, as a landlord you should:
- explain what personal information you have to collect and why you need it
- How you might use the collected personal information (including who the information might be shared with), and ensuring that you will only use it in that way (unless there are overriding legal precedences requiring the information, which we hope you won’t have to deal with)
- And last but not least - clarify how long your tenant’s personal information is retained for
Tenancy Deposit Protection
Don’t neglect this one, especially since it is among your obligations, as well.
Landlords have to secure their tenants deposits into one of three government-approved Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) schemes within 30 days of receiving the deposit, and they must also serve their tenants with Prescribed Information related to the deposit, within the same period of time.
If you fail to meet the requirement, this will lead to financial penalties, and can also impede on your right to repossess your property, which means you may not be able to repossess your property, unless you have grounds for eviction, which literally ties your hands.
Get familiar with the Deregulation Act 2015
This Act was introduced in October 2015 to protect tenants from injustice. To comply with the Deregulation Act 2015, the landlords in England must:
- secure the tenants’ deposit and give them additional information related to the deposit within 30 days of signing the tenancy agreement
- supply the tenants with a valid Gas Safety Certificate before they occupy the residence
- supply the tenants with an up-to-date copy of the
How to rentguide at the beginning of the tenancy
- supply the tenants with a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) during the viewing or at the beginning of the tenancy (preferably during the viewing)
If you ever need guidance about the Eviction process, you can read our article based on the exact mechanisam in order to get through it succesfully Eviction Guide for Landlords
Right to Rentimmigration checks
Under Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, Landlords in England should always assure that their prospective tenant is a British citizen, or EEA or Swiss national, or has a right to rent in the territory of the UK.
While we’re on this page – don’t forget to check your prospective tenant’s ID as well.
According to the court, if you fail to do so, you will be the one to blame and losing money will be the smallest problem you may have to deal with – so do your homework properly.
Tenant Fees Act 2019
This summer - on the 1st of June 2019 the Tenant Fees Act 2019 came into force. It is focused on banning and restricting letting agents and private landlords from charging tenants with any extra fees.
The only payments that you may require as a landlord are limited to:
- The Rent, stated in your Tenancy Agreement
- Tenancy deposit (limited to less than £50k per year, or six weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50k or above)
- Holding deposit (capped at one week’s rent)
- Payments to change the tenancy, when requested by the tenant (capped at £50)
- Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy (only if it is requested by your tenant/s)
- Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax
- A default fee for a late rental payment and replacement of a lost key/security device, if it is stated in your pre-signed tenancy agreement.
Have in mind that if you charge your tenants with anything other than what is listed above, then you’ve just unlawfully charged your tenants with a
Prohibited Payment, which is punishable by hefty fines, starting from £5,000.
Declaration of taxable rental income
We might be done with the requirement but don't forget that as a landlord you must declare rental income to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This means you may have to pay tax if your rental income is above a certain threshold (or passes the predefined threshold when combined with other taxable income).
If you fail to declare your additional rental income on time, there are solid fines of course. So note the self-assessment deadlines and set up reminders in order to manage to handle everything on time.
NB! - A lot of landlord expenses are tax-deductible, so check for those as well.
Well, it seems that your good to go on and climb up the property ladder with style and finesse.
Before you go, have in mind that a good looking property means a clean one as well. Plus, a spotless home guarantees higher paycheck at the end of each month, so whenever you need professional cleaning services we’ve got you covered. We make no compromises and our ratings speak for themselves. In case you need truly flawless results, our Royal services are the one thing you should at least consider. Don’t hesitate and Get your quote today.
* NB! - All of the information above is presented according to the Housing Act 1988.