Letting legally

24th January 2018 posted in Landlords

With more than 400 rules and regulations relating to letting a property, and fines of up to £30,000 or more for those who don’t adhere to them, this is probably the toughest and most time-consuming work for a landlord – or your letting agent.

Many rules and regulations vary according to local authority, so do ensure you do your research carefully.  
Using a qualified letting agent such as Hunters is the easiest way to stay within the law, as our specialist staff are all trained to stay up-to-date with regulations. We spend approximately £500,000 training our staff each year – part of this money is invested in keeping up to date with lettings legals.

These are the main legal requirements for all landlords in England:

 

Energy Performance Certificate

This should be made available to tenants, ideally when you advertise the property, so they can make an informed decision based on the cost of energy bills. More information can be found at gov.uk.
If you are not sure whether you have a valid Certificate or not, contact us as we  can arrange one for you

Right to Rent checks

Landlords must check their tenants are in the country legally before they rent or renew a tenancy. You are responsible for checking all tenants – not just those you believe to be foreign nationals. Failure to do so could lead to a £3,000 fine or worse. More information can be found at the government website. Whether you choose our Tenant Find Service or our Fully Managed Service, we will carry out Right to Rent checks for you.  

Tenants’ rights, access and protection

You need to make sure you fulfil the rights set out in statute. This means, for example, allowing tenants the right to enjoy their property peacefully - you can’t just come and go as you please - and if you want the tenant to leave, you can’t simply evict them because they have asked for repairs or an upgrade, you have to give them notice as per the contract. The government (in England) has produced a really helpful tenant guide, which must be given to tenants before letting to them.

 

Paying tax

Your property is subject to Capital Gains Tax and you will need to declare and pay tax on your rental income. As everyone’s tax status on buy-to-let depends on other income and assets, it is essential to check your tax payments, even if it is just initially, with a property tax expert.
 
Property and landlord licensing

Although landlords in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have to be licensed, this is not yet the case in England. However, individual local authorities have their own rules, regulations and licensing regimes, and some require landlords and/or properties to be licensed, so do contact our specialist teams, who have expert local knowledge.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which are three storeys or more and have five or more unrelated sharers require a licence across England. However, this national criteria varies in different local authority areas so again, do talk to us for advice if you are considering an HMO.
Failure to keep up with landlord licensing means you could be fined up to £20,000, so it really is worth making sure you stay on the right side of the law.

Local authority landlord accreditation

Even if your local authority has no legal requirement to be licensed, they may have a local accreditation scheme that you can join and it’s worth doing this, as it will help you stay up to date with legal changes.

“There are now so many rules and regulations relating to letting a property that it’s almost impossible to stay on top of them on your own. This is why I and other members of our specialist lettings team regularly attend seminars and workshops. It keeps us up-to-date with all the changes in the law, so we can help our landlords do the same.”