I’ve had a question in from a viewer asking ‘What are the responsibilities of a landlord?’. There’s two different ways at looking at this.
Firstly, from a moral point of view the responsibility of the landlord is to provide good, safe, sound, watertight, good quality properties so that the tenant can live in relative comfort. But of course, there are legal responsibilities that we have to have as landlords as well.
There are two particular ways in which the responsibilities are passed to us. The first is law, and the second is through the tenancy agreement itself.
Let’s just think about the law. The law is always changing and over the last few years, the government has been interfering, if that’s the word, more and more in private sector and imposing more and more obligations on landlords. But the basic obligations you’re going to find as a landlord is these.
In terms of keeping the property safe you’re going to have annual gas safety checks if there is gas in the property. When you let the property out you should have an electrical certificate. When you let the property out, believe it or not, it is the landlords responsibility to make sure a tenant complies with home office regulations on immigration so you’re going to have to make sure that they’ve got a valid passport and you know who they are and where they come from.
There is an obligation on the landlord to make sure that the money you’re taking on the rent hasn’t been laundered and of course there is a presumption that you’re going to be keeping the property in sound and watertight condition and the property is going to be safe for the tenant. Within the tenancy agreement itself, most tenancy is nowadays going to be short-hold tenancies. The obligations for a landlord are going to be that you’re going to keep the property wind, watertight, safe, again.
But specifically, a landlord is going to be responsible for repairs. In most tenancies the tenant is going to be responsible for a certain amount of wear and tear. To be honest though that can be very hard to prove at the end of the tenancy unless you’ve got a full-blown inventory showing exactly what the property was like at the beginning of the tenancy.
When you let the property there are certain things that you have to comply with so that if you ever need to take repossession of the property through a section 21 notice as it currently is, and that’s all changing as well by the way, but there are certain things you have to do at the beginning of the tenancy. You have to give the tenant a booklet which the government provide which tells them all about renting, you have to give them an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) which shows how much energy the property is using and whether it is actually environmentally friendly in a sense, you have to make sure the copies for the gas certificate and the electrical certificate are available. All of this kind of thing has to be done at the time when you issue the tenancy agreement.
If you’re taking a deposit it is very, very important that you have the deposit protected properly, and there are various schemes that you can pay the deposit into and ensure the deposit with. If you don’t do that and you ever need to take possession of the property then you are going to find it very, very difficult cause it all could invalidate your section 21 and if you’ve got a bad tenant who’s causing trouble that could be really serious for you.
So, there we are, that’s sort of a very quick overview of the responsibilities of a landlord. If you’re thinking about being a property investor though don’t let that put you off because ultimately most of this will be dealt with by your managing agent and it’s just a matter of having simple processes in place, check lists in place, just to make sure you do everything, you cover everything and you don’t forget anything.
Here’s to successful property investing.
Peter Jones B.Sc FRICS
Chartered Surveyor, author and property investor
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