Landlord pitfalls you never knew existed
Landlords don't want to unknowingly break the law. So check out Upad's James Davis's list of issues to look out for.
By James Davis, Managing Director of Upad in For Landlords.
Every landlord worries about it: what are the things most likely to get you into a spot of bother with the law? The trouble is that the easiest rules to break are the ones that you don’t know about in the first place. To help you out, here’s a list of issues you really need to know about.
1. Fire safety is key…
Currently landlords of non-licensed properties aren’t required to prove they’ve installed fire safety equipment, though you could still be prosecuted if a tenant is injured in a fire. You still have a legal obligation to make sure your properties are safe, and at the very least you should install a smoke alarm on every floor. But, new legislation due to go to Parliament will ensure all Landlords install a working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in every private rented property from October 10, 2015. It’s likely the new regulations will include sanctions to stop landlords from renting out homes without working alarms.
2. Make sure you have regular electrical inspections
You could be prosecuted is a tenants is injured in a fire so its important to make sure you have the electrical wiring tested by a qualified electrician at least every five years. Fixed appliances, such as ovens should be tested every three years and portable appliances like kettles and toasters should be tested every couple of years.
3. Also make certain to check any older furniture
Items such as sofas and mattresses should have labels to show they are fire resistant. If they don’t, check with the manufacturer to make sure they comply with the regulations. You’ll have to get rid of any that don’t comply unless they’re pre-1950, since these usually don’t contain toxic substances.
4. Make sure gas safety checks are regular…
At least once every 12 months all gas appliances and flues in rental properties must be checked by a registered Gas Safe engineer. They will then issue the copies of the gas safety record. Easy, right?
5. …but also get a certificate to everyone who needs one
There will be two copies of the certificate: one for you and one for the tenants. You must keep your copy for two years and hand the other copy to the tenants. New tenants must be given the record when they move in and existing tenants must be given a copy within 28 days of issue.
6. Before you advertise your property book an energy surveyor…
It’s illegal to advertise a property BEFORE you’ve booked a surveyor to come and give your property an energy rating and issue an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). You must include the rating in any adverts.
7. …but there’s also good news
EPCs don’t cost a lot and they last for 10 years. Potential tenants should see an EPC for your property so they can see how much their gas and electricity bills are likely to be, and you should also give tenants a copy of the certificate when they move in. Find out more here.
8. Finally, register with an approved deposit protection scheme
About half of all accidental landlords are still not registering deposits with one of the Government-approved protection schemes. If the tenants find out, or if the correct paperwork isn’t issued, landlords could be forced to pay them three times the value of the deposit in compensation.
At Upad we offer a range of services for clients, including dealing with many of these issues, so get in contact via the link if you’d like to hear more.