All landlords must follow rules when it comes to renting out their property. You need to know what you are doing – otherwise you may end up paying the price! We all hope our tenants don’t turn into the tenants from hell. But it is best to ensure you have taken the correct steps to protect yourself and your property. If you fail to carry out the following you will not be able to evict your tenant using a Section 21 notice.
1. Protect your tenants deposit.
In April 2007, it became the law that all landlords are to place their tenants deposit in a Government backed deposit protection scheme for the duration of the assured shorthold tenancy. This must be actioned within 30 days of receiving the deposit, and if you don’t, your tenants can apply to a county court where you can be ordered to repay your tenant as much as 3 times their original deposit! These schemes hold the deposit for free, we recommend you use the DPS or TDS.
2. Provide your tenants with an EPC.
Any landlord who is marketing a self-contained property to new tenants has to provide an Energy Performance Certificate – which will give details of the property’s energy efficiency and environmental impact to those tenants considering entering into a tenancy agreement. Landlords who fail to provide this document can face fines and will be unable to use a Section 21 notice. Please also be aware that minimum energy standards will come into effect in April 2018!
3. Make sure you conduct gas safety tests before your tenant moves in!
It is the landlord’s responsibility to provide certificates of gas and electric safety tests to your tenants. If the gas appliances in your home are unsafe, you are exposing your tenants to the risk of fire, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. These certificates can only be provided by a registered gas engineer, and they are valid for 12 months. If the appliances in your rental property do not pass these tests, a registered gas engineer has to carry out repairs immediately and before any tenants can move in. If you fail to do so you can be persecuted by the HSE for non-compliance.
4. If you are renting a HMO, you need a licence.
A lot of landlords don’t even realise that their rental property is a HMO, if at least 3 tenants of more than one household are living in the property this is described as a house in multiple occupation. These are shared houses or flats, a house split into separate bedsits. The license you need to run a HMO lasts for 5 years and to gain one, the council needs to check that the property meets an acceptable standard, and the property is large enough for the number of occupants. If you are not compliant with the required condition you can be served a rent repayment order for up to 12 months of rent.
5. Reference check your tenants.
Before renting out your home to a complete stranger, make sure you have checked them thoroughly and trust they won’t wreck your home, or leave without paying rent. Carry out a credit check to ensure they have no adverse credit and to ensure their income is sufficient to cover the rent payable. Take details of their employer, previous addresses and landlords, and check with these people that they are a trustworthy person and that they won’t cause you any trouble. The employers reference is the most important, it is their salary that will be paying your rent.