Friday, 17 January 2014

Being A Landlord

Being a landlord is easy if you know the rules and regulations.  Twenty years ago if you owned a rental property it was simple to let it.  The landlord checked the roof didn’t leak, that it had four solid walls and a floor, set the rent level and found a tenant for life.  Then sat back and watched the money roll in but today the world of the landlord is changing.  Successive UK and EU governments have introduced so much legislation the landlord doesn’t know from one day to the next if the let on his property is legal or illegal.  Fines can be hefty.  Prison is a possibility.  Landlords can even lose the right to evict a tenant.  Here we look at some of the important legislation a landlord needs to comply with

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) – before any property can be advertised for rent it must have an EPC report.  The report must be shown in full to the prospective tenants before they make a decision about the property.  Fixed penalties of £200 are applied if the landlord fails to obtain one.

Gas Safety Certificates – All properties must have a current gas safety certificate which has to be updated every 12 months.  The Health and Safety Executive are able to prosecute or imprison any landlord found not having a valid certificate. 

Information Commissioners Office (ICO) – it seems reasonable enough that the landlord will want to know as much as possible about the person they will be letting the property to.  They will want to be sure the prospective tenant can afford to rent the property, will look after it and does not have a poor credit history.  But did you know as soon as the landlord starts asking this information under the data protection act they need to be registered with the ICO.  Fines can vary from 3000 euros to 500,000 euros for breaches of the data protection act.

Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) – if a landlord has a property that is classed as an HMO they will need to be licensed with the local council to be able to let the property.  Each council has it’s own licensing requirements and fees. Failure to register with the council can result in prosecution and fines up to £20,000.  If more people than the license approves live in the property another £20,000 fine, a further £5,000 fine for each breach of the license and the right to evict the tenant.  The landlord could also have to repay any rent collected.

Landlord Accreditation – many councils in the UK require the landlord to be accredited if they want to rent a property.  Accreditation is a test that ensures the landlord is up to date with current rules and regulations and continues to keep themselves up to date through continuous learning.  In Wales landlords are required to attend a one day seminar and pass a test.  In England accreditation depends on the local council.  Landlord Associations also run their own accreditation schemes.

Health and Safety – every property needs to be assessed to ensure it complies with Health and Safety rules.  This is an assessment the landlord can do themselves.  It ensures tenants cannot come to any harm while they occupy the property.  Follow up checks should be done to ensure the tenant does not cause any potential harm while renting the property.

Green Deal – with effect from October 2012 (in England) and January 2013 (in Wales) landlords need to demonstrate they are continually improving the energy efficiency of the property they are letting.  Green Deal is a scheme aimed at helping landlords fund improvements to their properties.  From 2014 any property with an energy efficiency report of G will no longer be allowed to be let.  The plan is that over the coming years only properties with a rating of A to D will be able to be let.

The world of the landlord is continually changing.  Keeping up to date with current legislation has never been more important.  But, if you know your rules and regulations letting a property in the UK is easy.