7 expert tips for UK landlords

Wondering how much you could let for?

Whether you’re new to being a landlord or an experienced investor, there are many different aspects of being a landlord you need to be aware of.

To help ensure a successful let, we’ve collated some of the most common questions we’ve been asked, and share our top 7 tips every landlord needs to know about.

Here’s a brief overview of what this article will touch on and what every landlord should consider before and during every tenancy:

1. Have up-to-date gas and electrical certificates
2. Ensure that all provided appliances are safe to use
3. Take potential tenant requests for keeping pets into account
4. Have the appropriate landlord insurance
5. Complete sufficient tenant checks
6. Have a good understanding of the new rules for tenant evictions
7. Understand local authority licensing requirements

Additionally, we'll also touch on other landlord legislation, you need to be aware of. This list isn’t exhaustive, but will provide you with a good starting point for researching and understanding how to manage your buy-to-let investments successfully. And, if you have any further questions, we’re always here to help.

Let’s get started.

1. Have up-to-date gas and electrical certificates

It’s important to ensure that you have all the mandatory certification throughout a tenancy. Whilst the primary consideration will always be tenant safety, it’s important to keep in mind that failing to maintain up-to-date certification not only puts you in breach of your regulatory obligations, but can invalidate your landlord insurance and may put you at a disadvantage when trying to regain possession of the property.

According to the gas safety regulations, a landlord’s duty is to ensure that a valid Gas Safety Record completed by a Gas Safe registered engineer is in place at all times. Copies should be kept for 2 years, issued to all new tenants prior to commencement of a tenancy, and to each existing tenant within 28 days of annual retesting.

For electrical installations, the latest regulations require landlords to have properties tested by qualified inspectors at least every 5 years. As a landlord, you must provide a copy of the electrical safety report to your tenants, and if requested, to the local authority.^

Furthermore, ensure that your property follows the latest smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations. You can find the latest Government publication here.

2. Have a good understanding of appliance safety by ensuring that all provided appliances are safe to use

Landlords are under an obligation to ensure that appliances supplied by them within a property (often referred to as portable appliances) are safe to use. Unlike gas and electrical installations, there is no legal requirement for formal testing and certification which, in practice, is the only way a landlord can demonstrate compliance with the regulations. For this reason, we advise that you complete an annual Portable Appliance Test (PAT).

3. Take potential tenant requests for keeping pets into account

You might be wondering if you should allow your tenants to have pets, a great question when considering that 62% of households in the UK own a pet.*

A tenant must ask for consent from their landlord to keep a pet, to which landlords should give due consideration. However, in England, this process is currently part of the debate in the Renters (Reform) Bill, which may include a stop on a blanket ban of pets. Find out more about this in our article that covers all the ins and outs of lets with pets.

If, as a landlord, you are willing to accept pets, include provisions in the tenancy agreement to ensure that any damage caused by the pet is not treated as fair wear and tear. As a landlord, you may be unable to give consent for a tenant to keep a pet, if the space is unsuitable or your lease contains restrictions concerning tenants with pets.

Our expert advice: To help ensure that any damage can be properly assessed, a thorough inventory is advised, which a good agent can create.

Stay up-to-date on current regulations

And successfully manage your rental property in a way that suits you.

4. Have the appropriate landlord insurance

Ensuring that buildings, contents, fixtures and fittings are properly insured not only protects you, the landlord, from financial risk, but also helps you in meeting your regulatory and contractual obligations in quickly repairing damage caused to the property as a result of an insured risk. It is important to check that your policy protects you from potential injury claims from tenants, contractors and other visitors to the property.

Additionally, you may find it useful to understand policy restrictions and requirements and, where necessary, provide your tenant with relevant details so that cover is not affected.

Note that tenants' contents and possessions are not usually covered by their landlord's insurance, which is something they may not always be aware of.

5. Complete sufficient tenant checks

Ensure you complete all the necessary checks and guidelines, including:

  • Tenant references, for example, from previous landlords or from current employers, can help you gain a better understanding of the potential tenant and whether they are the most suitable for your property.
  • Tenant credit checks should be completed to ensure that the tenant can afford the monthly rental payments.
  • Right to rent checks are a legal requirement in England only to ensure that the tenant is allowed to rent a property.

6. Have a good understanding of the current rules for tenant evictions

Rules around gaining possession of a property are strict. As an example, evicting/making a tenant homeless without a court order is a criminal offence. Your agent will be able to advise you on regulations in place at the time and what options are open to you.

7. Understand local authority licensing requirements

In addition to mandatory property licensing for larger properties and households, a number of local authorities will have additional and selective schemes, all of which require landlords to hold a licence and to abide by its conditions. As breaching these regulations can result in a criminal record, unlimited fines and rent repayment orders, it is essential that you understand requirements relating to your property and the specific tenancy you are considering.

What other landlord legislation do I need to be aware of?

Last, but certainly not least, staying on top of legislation is a necessity and is one of the many parts of being a landlord that we can assist you with. Some examples of legislation landlords should also be aware of include the legionella risk assessment and the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Regulations (MEES) that came into effect in 2018 in England and Wales, as well as Scotland, though the Scottish regulations vary slightly.†

Speak to one of our friendly lettings experts to guide you on your buy-to-let journey.

Becoming a landlord comes with a certain level of responsibility, and whether you’re new to being a landlord or have years of experience, our team of letting experts are always on hand to discuss the latest deals and changes to the market.

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