Along with the rewards and benefits of being a landlord, there are also a number of obligations and responsibilities.
An awareness of these not only helps you to keep on the right side of the law, but may also be instrumental in abiding by the terms, conditions and expectations of the landlord insurance policy which safeguards both your property and your buy to let business.
What are some of these obligations – which are largely designed to protect the health and safety of your tenants and to defend certain of their rights?
- under English common law, you have a general duty of care to take every reasonable step – and avoid any unreasonable action – to prevent injury to your tenants, their visitors or members of the public;
- if you are held in breach of that duty, you may be sued and ordered to pay substantial damages;
- for that reason, landlord liability insurance typically offers a minimum of £1 million indemnity;
- you have a specific obligation to ensure that all gas supplies and installations are safe by arranging an annual inspection by a registered Gas Safety engineer and the issue of the appropriate certificate;
- a copy of the certificate needs to be given to any tenants already in residence and to new tenants whenever they move in;
- although there is no legal requirement for such an annual inspection of the electrical installation in your let property, you are nevertheless required to maintain it in safe working order;
- a way of ensuring that you meet this obligation, of course, is to arrange periodic inspections by a suitably qualified electrician;
- you must comply with all national and local fire regulations, including the fitting of smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors on each floor of the let property;
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- tenants must be provided a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating the energy efficiency of the property;
Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme
- any deposit which you take from a tenant – as security against possible damage, for example – must be held by an approved, independent third party;
- in the event of a dispute with the tenant over the proportion of the deposit to be returned at the end of the tenancy, the matter may be resolved by independent adjudication;
- if you are the landlord of a large House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) – and sometimes a smaller HMO – you need a license issued by the local authority confirming that you are a fit and proper person for that role – and this may require your submitting to a criminal records check;
- your licence application also needs to show that the property is suitable – in size and standard of accommodation – for the proposed number of tenants, whilst you must also comply with the gas, electrical and fire regulations already mentioned;
- many local authorities have also won the power to require licences for private rented property that are not used as HMOs;
Right to rent
- as the landlord, you are also required to check that you are letting your accommodation only to tenants whose immigration status gives them the right to rent property in the UK.
As may be clear, therefore, your role as landlord comes with it a whole raft of legal responsibilities and obligations.
The above are just an example of current requirements and the list is by no means exhaustive – make sure you understand what yours are.