A Guide for New Landlords – Q&A
What are my legal obligations?
Essential documents include:-
Tennacy Deposit Protection
Energy Performance Certificate
If there is gas supplied to the property you will also need to carry out an annual gas safety check. You should also make sure the property meets fire and electrical safety standards.
Am I allowed to let my property?
If you have a mortgage or do not own the property’s freehold, you will need to contact your mortgage provider/freeholder to check any changes or conditions they may impose before going ahead.
Please see our article on short-term holiday lets (which may include Air-bnb style arrangements).
Can I vet or veto a tenant?
Yes. You are completely free to interview prospective tenants and reject for a valid reason – but not to discriminate against tenants on the basis of race, gender, disability, sexuality or religion.
All private landlords in England will have to check that new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property (see our article – Immigration Act 2014 - Attention All Landlords)
What happens to the tenant’s deposit?
When you or your letting agent take a deposit, by law you must ‘protect’ it, through a recognised scheme. This can be relatively easily done online – most scheme’s charge an annual fee of around £25.
Even if you use a letting agent you remain ultimately liable if the deposit is not protected. You must make sure the deposit has been protected by the agent within 30 days of the deposit being handed over.
The Housing Act 2004 states that there are heavy penalties for landlords who do not protect deposits within 30 days of receiving it, including a fine of up to three times the deposit amount and the inability to serve a section 21 notice prior to protection (see our article – Negotiating Deposit Returns).
Do I have access to my property while it is let?
Yes, with prior agreement from the tenant but check your tenancy agreement which will stipulate how much notice must be given. You cannot just turn up and let yourself in.
What if I want my property back?
Unless the tenant has broken the terms of the rental agreement, you cannot terminate the tenancy agreement early without the tenant’s consent. Similarly, if the tenant wants to terminate early, it can only be done if you agree although agreements commonly contain ‘break clauses’ which stipulate mechanisms for early termination.
What happens at the end of the tenancy?
You and your tenant(s) should arrange a ‘check-out’ date on which you should both attend the property and where you check the original inventory; any necessary repairs beyond fair wear and tear; and that outstanding bills have been paid, then return the deposit minus any relevant costs.
Should there be any dispute over the deposit and the deposit caretaker is unable to resolve the situation to your satisfaction, legal advice should be sought.
If you need help resolving a dispute, please contact Chris Sykes.