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What are my responsibilities as a landlord?

So-called ‘rogue landlords’ are often subject to negative press and complaints, but with so many landlords being either new to the business or only working the role part-time it is unsurprising to discover that many of them are simply unaware of their legal duties and obligations to their tenants and their properties.

It is important that if you are considering buying a property for the purpose of letting it out  that you are fully aware of what your obligations are. Here we will detail some of the responsibilities you will have.


Energy performance certificates
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) are required any time that a property is built, sold or rented to another person. This helps to show how costly it will be to heat the property and what scale of carbon emissions will be produced while living there. 

Tenancy agreements
If you want to lay the foundation for a healthy and positive relationship with a potential tenant then you should always ensure you have a tenancy agreement in place. This written document details agreements between the two parties which might include start dates, details of a deposit and how it will be protected,rules for the property, the length of the tenancy and the names and addresses of those involved.

The agreement should also include details of the rental agreement.  It is worth noting that if the tenancy is on a rolling basis then you are by law only allowed to increase the cost once per-year, unless agreed with the tenant.

Deposits
Taking a deposit from a tenant is a key way to ensure that you can protect yourself if things don’t work out and it also shows that they are serious about renting the property.  By law, once you take a deposit from a tenant it needs to be oficially protected within 30 days.

Fire safety
Landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the homes they rent are safe to live in. Properties that are built in the UK after 1992 require a smoke alarm to be fitted on every floor of the house by law as this can give valuable warning time for tenants to deal with a fire, or evacuate the premises in the event of a fire starting.  If you want the tenant to be in charge of maintaining a smoke alarm, fire blanket or other form of fire safety equipment then it should be written into the tenancy agreement.

When furnishing a property, landlords also need to be conscious of the law. Although it might be tempting to pick up a bargain price sofa or suite, you should be sure to check for a ticket which details it’s compliance with fire safety regulations.  A failure to do so could leave you liable if the worst should happen.

A good state of repair
Your responsibilities also extend to ensuring that the property that you rent out remains in a ‘good state of repair’. This means ensuring that things like roofing and guttering, windows, doors, walls and the general structure of the property are functioning correctly.  Gas and electrical safety are also the responsibility of the landlord who must ensure that checks are carried out by a competent person prior to anyone moving in.

You should be aware that for the duration of the tenancy you will be expected to be responsible for the provision of gas, electricity, water, heating and sanitation.

Insurance
You may find that once you get used to it tenancies are plain sailing, however you should always be prepared for the worst. There are a number of insurance policies which you may need in-order to obtain a mortgage from a lender. These include:

• Landlords expenses insurance to pay for legal costs if a dispute arises
• Landlords contents insurance to protect your furnishings
• Landlords loss of rent insurance to replace income if your property becomes unusable
• Landlords home emergency insurance to pay for urgent repairs
• Landlords liability insurance for if someone is injured visiting your property

It is always a good idea to have clear agreements between you and your tenant to avoid any disputes. You should provide them with an inventory which describes the condition of any furnishings or appliances at the time that they move into the property to cover yourself.

Buying to let can be a fantastic way to invest your money and grow your income but it is important that you are well prepared. For more tips and advice on buying to let take a look at our guide here.

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