Should there be a current mortgage on the property, the consent of the lender to let the property must be obtained. The lender may ask for details or copies of the Tenancy Agreement and Rent Indemnity Schemes.
If the property is leasehold then consent must also be obtained from the Freeholder. This may mean an additional clause in the Tenancy Agreement.
The Housing Act 2004 must be understood and complied with. This Act contains the following:
- Provisions to protect the tenants' deposits via Approved Schemes
- Powers are given to the local authority to take over property that has been left empty long-term.
- Mandatory licensing of HMOs. (For further information on Houses of Multiple Occupancy – please visit www.communities.gov.uk)
2. Health & Safety
All properties must conform to the areas of HHSRS, which stands for the Housing, Health & Safety Rating System. As these vary depending on the property and also with each tenant application, we can provide valuable information on what you must do as a landlord to comply with these regulations. Please contact us for further information.
In addition, the Health & Safety Act 2004 sets out firm guidelines which must be complied with. As a landlord it is your responsibility to ensure that all items such as gas, water, electricity, oil, sanitary, hot water and space-heaters are checked annually for their serviceability and repairs completed when necessary. This also includes TV aerials, switches, telephone and other sockets. If appliances are left as part of the tenancy, these will also need to be maintained by the landlord and/or replaced as necessary. This is a very serious area as you can be prosecuted if you are not fully compliant with all current legislation, which can lead to fines and/or imprisonment.
In particular there are a number of specific Acts which must be complied with which includes:
- Fire and Furnishings (FIRE) (safety) Regulations (1988)
- The Electrical Equipment (safety) Regulations (1994) and the Plugs & Sockets Safety Regulations 1994
- Gas Safety Regulations (1994)
- The installation of smoke detectors into any property is recommended and, in addition, the use of fire blankets is also advisable
Most standard insurance policies will not protect let property and, therefore, landlords must ensure that they are adequately covered with specialist insurance policies.
Any money derived from property rentals is regarded by the Inland Revenue as unearned income and is therefore subject to tax. It is important to register with the Inland Revenue. Non-resident landlords should apply for a Non-Resident Landlord Certificate prior to the rental of the property.
Stamp Duty is also payable at the prevailing rate.
5. Consider your Target Market
Before undertaking any major improvements to your property, research your target market. This will ensure you make the right decisions and make the changes to your property which will appeal most to your prospective tenants and help you achieve the best rental.
Always keep up the maintenance of your property to ensure that, once you find a good tenant, you keep them. Remember to include all communal areas or gardens, as these will often be the first areas of your property your tenants will see. All gardens areas should be neat and free from rubbish. It will be up to a tenant to maintain any gardens but, in order to do this, they must be provided with the tools to do the job (which must also be in good serviceable order). Ponds should be emptied or covered and all areas assessed in respect of Health & Safety including, where applicable, any swimming pools.
Decorations should be made good and you will need to bear in mind general wear and tear depending on the time the property is let.
Professional cleaning of the property, fixtures, fittings, appliances and carpets should also be undertaken.
Always advise the utility companies and settle all accounts, including the telephone. Remember – during any void periods – the landlord is responsible for paying council tax.
Finally, redirect all mail.