With so many new pieces of legislation hitting landlords month after month, how does a landlord ensure they are compliant and keep on top of all the regulations?
It’s not easy to keep up with everything, but of course it can be done. Naturally I would recommend that you go to a professional letting agent, but if you decide that you want to go it alone then you’ll need to be proactive.
I’ve been in the industry for 26 years, and I’ve let and managed over 6,000 properties. Along the way I’ve picked up some tips that will help keep you and your tenancies compliant and pave the way for trouble-free management.
Make sure you regularly update your tenancy agreements. Changes in regulation (the 2014 Immigration Act and recent smoke alarm legislation, for example) may mean that the clauses and terms need to be updated, so don’t just use an old one and copy it.
References and identity check
Check that the person in front of you is definitely the person listed on the application form. Ask for identity documents and verify references, including a reference from the prospective tenant’s current landlord. Social media can also be a useful tool for double-checking identity details.
Sign up for legal updates
Find a way of keeping up-to-date with rental legislation, perhaps by signing up to landlord e-newsletters or subscribing to a landlord law resource. Seemingly small mistakes can be costly: if you fail to issue a ‘how to rent guide’ you may be unable to evict the tenant using a section 21, for example, or if you don’t have a gas certificate you may face prosecution.
Get off to a good start
Get clued up on all the things you need to do when you start a tenancy to protect your rights as a landlord and to keep your tenants safe. For example issuing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), testing the smoke alarm on the move-in day, getting your tenants to sign an inventory, making sure you’ve got the gas certificate, and issuing a ‘how to rent’ guide.
Do your homework now to avoid problems later on
By following the simple steps above, you can make your life as a landlord a lot easier. Completing paperwork and conforming to ever-changing legislation may seem like a hassle, but failing to do it can lead to many hours and thousands of pounds of problems later on.
For more information on staying safe as a landlord check out the RLA (Resident Landlord Association) and NLA (National Landlord Association).
Sally Lawson MARLA & Vice President of ARLA CEO of Concentric Franchise & Founder of Property Agents Circle
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