How to stay compliant as a private landlord

by | May 9, 2016

How does a landlord, with just one or two properties, ensure that they have everything they need, all in order, to make sure they are compliant with every piece of old and new legislation that is currently in place, many of which carry severe penalties, for failing to get right? It really is a difficult question, especially for those landlords that have full time jobs elsewhere, as it is no longer a case of having an old photocopied tenancy agreement and a standing order form

Of course, it can be done, but it is not easy, most landlords for this reason still choose to go through an agent and of course, i would recommend they do let and manage their properties, with the assistance of an ARLA agent, but what if they really don’t want to, what can they do to stay abreast of all the regulation changes, legal updates, and more importantly the record keeping and paperwork.

The latest de-regulation bill and Right to Rent act, have both been revolutionary in bringing major change in the requirements for strong record keeping, and processes to be followed to the letter for every new let, with strong consequences, such as not being able to serve section 21 notices in the UK or prosecution for those that fail to do as required, or those that cannot prove that they did follow the rules, so landlords really now to have be very tight on record keeping, more so than ever before, to have the benefit of proof on their side, if it is required.

Over the last 26 years in the industry and having let and managed over 6000 properties, so here are my top tips on keeping your and your tenancies compliant and to ensure you have trouble free management.

  1. Tenancy Agreement- Update your tenancy agreement regularly, no longer can you afford to just keep copying that old one you got hold of a few years ago, you need to have the latest current and up to date tenancy you can find. Check the special conditions, additional clauses and any side notices you wish to offer or include and pay particular attention to the prescribed information and deposit conditions.
  2. References & ID/file check- Ensure that you have carried out thorough checks on your tenant before they move in and that the person signing and moving in, is the same person you have referenced, by checking their identity, and their right to rent in the UK (immigration status). Plus you need to make sure that you have proof of service all of the items you needs to serve at the beginning of a tenancy, such as gas cert, checking of smoke alarms, How to rent guide, EPC, etc as without these you may never be able to issue a section 21 and seek possession  and it is good practice to be sure that you have a move in checklist signed by the tenant to show that you have carried out all of the required steps as laid out by the de-regulation bill to protect yourself in the future
  3. Subscribe to a legal resource and LEARN- you have to have your wits about you to manage your own property now, just missing issuing a “how to rent guide” can leave you with a tenancy where you cannot evict the tenant using a section 21, or not issuing a gas certificate, could lead to prosecution so make sure you are aware of ALL the things you need to do when you start a tenancy to protect YOU and reserve your rights as a landlords,

By following the simple steps above, you can make your life of being a landlord a lot easier, but miss them out at your peril, it may seem like hassle, but not doing these 3 simple things can lead to hours and 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) would both be good places to start which should keep you on track.

Sally Lawson MARLA & Vice President of ARLA

CEO of Concentric Franchise & Founder of Property Agents Circle