What Do New Landlords Need to Know?Written By PropertyLoop February 19, 2021
With the NRLA stating that around 36% of its polled landlords are ready to leave the sector on the back of tremendous losses during COVID, alongside record demand for rental properties a path has been paved for new landlords. But, with the conservative Housing and Communities Minister Michael Gove introducing reforms to the sector, alongside a “mandatory renting register”, landlords that fail to adhere to renting regulations will be more accountable than ever.
- What Information Do I Need to Give to a New Tenant?
- Deposit Protection Scheme Details
- EPC Certificate
- Gas and Electrical Safety Certificates
- How to Rent Guide
- What Repairs Are Landlords Responsible For?
- What Is Right to Rent Check?
- Can First Time Buyers Rent Their Property?
- Can a Landlord Enter a Property Without Permission?
What Information Do I Need to Give to a New Tenant?
Alongside the landslide of legislation to not only understand, but remain compliant with, landlords must also be aware of the resonance and documentation they are legally required to provide to their new tenants.
Deposit Protection Scheme Details
Alongside a limit being placed on the amount a landlord can request their tenants pay for a security deposit, typically equivalent to the cost of five weeks rent, new landlords are also legally obligated to protect this amount. This is achieved through entering the sums given for the security deposit into a government-approved deposit protection scheme, a party that will safeguard the deposit over the course of the fixed term and ensure that the appropriate amount is returned to the tenant once they move out of the property.
Once the tenant has paid their new landlord the security deposit, the owner will have 30 days in which to protect these amounts, providing the resident with confirmation of the amount being protected, the scheme the deposit has been entered into, the address of the rental property and the terms under which deductions can be made from the amount being refunded to the tenant. If the owner of the rental fails to protect the tenant’s deposit, not only can the courts demand the landlord enter the sums into a scheme, but also repay the tenants as much as three times the amount that should have been protected.
Simply out an energy performance certificate clearly details how energy efficient a rental property is. The level of energy efficiency is communicated through an alphabetised grade, with those closest to an “A” being found to be more environmentally friendly. In order to advertise their rental opportunity to aspiring tenants, landlords must first have an EPC rating of at least an “E” or above, with this threshold soon to be increased in a move to make the private rental sector increasingly green.
Gas and Electrical Safety Certificates
As of April 2021 landlords are legally required to have an electrical installations condition report carried out every five years. This inspection verifies that all electrical appliances, outlets, wiring and installations are in a safe working order for the occupants of the property. Further to this rental property owners will need to obtain a gas safety certificate for their rental property each year. These checks must be conducted by an accredited gas safe engineer that similarly to the EICR will evaluate the condition of gas pipes, flues, boilers and hardware, ensuring that they do not pose a risk to the safety of the occupants.
How to Rent Guide
When starting a new tenancy landlords must provide their new tenants with a copy of the government’s how to rent guide. Despite some common misconceptions landlords are legally bound to provide their tenants with a copy of this informative pack, with owners being prevented from evicting their tenants through a section 21 notice if they have failed to first provide a guide to their residents. The guide offers tenants advice on where to turn if they are struggling to pay their rent, amongst other potential issues, alongside clearly outlining their rights and responsibilities throughout the tenancy.
What Repairs Are Landlords Responsible For?
Landlords are responsible for handling the repairs concerning the exterior or structure of the rental property. This responsibility sees landlords attend to any damage that occurs on the roof, guttering, foundations, walls, radiations, electrical wiring, boilers and pipework to name a few. It is worth noting for a new landlord that this legal responsibility to ensure the repairs needed at the rental property are handled cannot be undone through a bespoke term within the tenancy agreement, nor can this obligation be passed onto the tenants.
However, as can somewhat be expected the owner of the rental property can only be held accountable for repairs that they are aware of. This means that although the landlord is likely to carry out multiple inspections of the rental property over the course of the fixed term, the occupants must still inform them of any damage that is not noticed during these assessments of the rental’s condition.
With this being said it is worth noting that the occupants of the rental property must afford the landlord a reasonable amount of time in which to carry out the needed repairs. Whilst this does not offer much in the way of a definitive timeframe, typically the amount of time landlords are expected to take with repairs is considered on a case by case basis, depending on the type of remedial work that needs to be carried out, with a broken window taking far less time than issues surrounding leaks, damp and mould outbreaks.
What Is Right to Rent Check?
When embarking on a new tenancy, landlords are legally obligated to perform right to rent check on any aspiring tenant that is over the age of 18. This assessment will see the owner of the rental property inspect passports, visas and other official documents to evaluate if the tenant holds the right to remain within the UK. Not only will these checks need to be completed no later than 28 days before the tenancy commences, but if an owner neglects to perform right to rent checks they will face a civil penalty of an unlimited fine and potentially a prison sentence.
Can First Time Buyers Rent Their Property?
Despite common misconceptions, it is possible for those that are taking their first steps on the property ladder and hope to become a new landlord and rent out a property for the first time. Of course, first-time buyers are not commonly landlords as generally speaking the funding may not be available to do so. However, as property investors will commonly turn to the buy to let mortgage, this is an option for first-time buyers also.
Although the buy to let mortgage is almost synonymous with demanding that aspiring landlords provide lenders with a far higher deposit than a traditional residential mortgage, this is undoubtedly the case with first-time buyers, with deposits being known to total as much as 35% of the property’s market value. With this being said if the owner of the property is only looking to let to an occupant for a small period of time, typically under six months, they may not need to seek out a new mortgage, instead gaining approval from, their mortgage provider. If this approval is not gained and the owner rent to a tenant regardless, they will likely be found in breach of their residential mortgage, making it far harder to find a new home.
Can a Landlord Enter a Property Without Permission?
Before entering a rental property, regardless of the reasoning is to carry out repairs, conduct an inspection or show aspiring tenants around the rental opportunity, landlords must first gain the permission of the occupants. This is because upon the singing of the tenancy agreement not only did the landlord transfer possession of the property to the tenants for the course of the fixed term, but acknowledged the resident’s right to quiet enjoyment of the property, essentially meaning the tenants can enjoy full, undisturbed use of the rental property without suffering consistent interruption or harassment from the owner, agents or their representatives.
If the landlord needs to gain access to the property, they must first gain permission from the occupants no later than 24 hours before their visit is intended to take place. This visit must take place during a reasonable time of the day, with tenants being able to reject these in order to find a mutually convenient time for the visit to take place. It is also worth noting that the tenants are legally obliged by the 1985 landlord and tenant act to provide landlords with reasonable access to the property in order for repairs to be conducted, as this would otherwise lead to significant infringements on the occupant’s health and safety.
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