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The A to Z of being a Landlord

Once upon a time it was simple to be a landlord. They just found a tenant, took a deposit plus the first month's rent and handed over the keys. But the list of must-dos for landlords these days is much longer. Here's our A to Z guide.

A is for

Advertising

Landlords who advertise their own properties must ensure any ads they post online are not materially misleading, exaggerated or omit crucial information.

B is for

Boiler checks

A landlord must ensure that their property is safe including all gas appliances, fittings and flues. But most importantly, if a property has a gas boiler this must undergo a safety check every 12 months by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Copies of the report must also be given to the tenant.

C is for

Capital gains tax

When a buy-to-let property is bought and then later sold for a profit the government then taxes this ‘gain’. The total bill will depend on how much money a landlord makes and when it was bought and sold. But it can be as high as 25-30%.

D is for

Deposits

All landlords are required by law to lodge their tenant’s deposit with one of the three government-approved protection schemes within 30 days of a tenant moving in. There are serious financial and legal consequences if a landlord doesn’t do this – including making it very difficult to evict a tenant.

E is for

Evictions

There are two main kinds of eviction – a ‘no fault’ Section 21 and a Section 8 eviction. The former is normally used by landlords when they need to move back into a property or sell it. This cannot be served until six months after the tenant has moved in and must give them two months’ notice.

A Section 8 is the messy kind and is used to evict tenants’ who have broken the terms of their contract by not paying their rent or damaging the property, for example, and can involve going to court if a tenant refuses to move out.

EPCs

Most properties must now have an Energy Performance Certificate or EPC before they can be rented out.

F is for

Fire safety

Landlords are required by law to ensure their rented properties are safe and follow fire safety rules. This includes having a smoke detector on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with an open fireplace or wood-burning stove.

G is for

Getting repairs done

A landlord must look after their property’s structure and exterior, basins, sinks, baths, pipes, drains, heating and hot water, gas appliances and electrical wiring.

H is for

Health and safety inspections

If a rented property doesn’t meet minimum health and safety minimum standards, then tenants can report their home to the local council. Its officers will then pay a visit and do an inspection. Common problems that land many landlords in hot water include damp and mould growth, excessive cold, overcrowding, faulty gas boilers, fire risks and dangerous electrics.

How to rent booklet

I is for

Inventories

It’s a good idea to get an inventory completed before they move in, and after they move out. It prevents arguments about damage, wear and tear and missing furniture, for example, and is invaluable when arguing about deductions from a tenant’s deposit. An inventory is written and photographic record of a property’s interior and contents.

K is for

Knowing your tenant’s background

It’s not compulsory but most landlords ask tenants to pass referencing before they move in. This checks how much they earn, how long they’ve had a job, their credit rating and how good have been in the past when renting a property.

L is for

Legionella infections

Legionella is an organism that thrives in water systems and, if inhaled within a water droplet, can cause serious illness and even death. Small rented properties are unlikely to harbour them, but nevertheless it’s a good idea to ensure any loft water tanks are tightly sealed, the heating system is kept free of sludge, and old pipes removed.

Licensing

An increasing number of councils now require properties in some of their areas to be licenced for use as rental properties. These licenses can cost up to £500 or more every five years to obtain and vary in their form and remit. It’s a good idea to check with your local council about licensing schemes before renting a property out.

N is for

Nature

If a property has a garden then ensure the rental contract requires the tenants to maintain at least the lawn and, if they don’t, that the costs of cutting down months of foliage growth after they’ve moved out will be deducted from their deposit.

O is for

Ombudsman

There is no ombudsman scheme that enables tenants and landlords to solve disputes other than over deductions from deposits, which are handline by the three deposit protection services.

P is for

Putting up the rent

For normal fixed-term tenancies a landlord can only increase the rent after the initial fixed-period finishes, which is usually six months, and only if the tenant agrees. If they don’t then ultimately the matter can be decided at a tribunal.

Q is for

Quadricentennial

This is posh way of saying ‘seasonal’ and by that we mean that the rental market in the UK varies hugely in demand from month to month. The periods of greatest demand are usually during the spring, just after Christmas/NY and in late summer, and therefore are the best times to find tenants.

R is for

Right to Rent

The law now requires landlords to check every prospective tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ in the UK. This means checking and making copies of their UK/EU passport or, if they have temporary leave, their supporting documents. Fines of up to £3,000 can follow if a landlord does not complete this process correctly.

S is for

Stamp Duty

Anyone buying a buy-to-let property in the UK pays 3% extra Stamp Duty on top of the existing rate for the price band the property falls into.

T is for

Tenancy agreements

A tenant must be given a rental contract, which is usually an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement that lists all the conditions of renting the property including who the landlord is, how much the rent is, when it’s due every month and how long the minimum rental period is – which is usually six months but can be longer.

U is for

Unfurnished

Properties can be as rented as unfurnished and furnished but there’s often confusion about what ‘furnished’ means. It is accepted that a furnished property must include a cooker, fridge/freezer, washing machine, a sofa and armchair, beds, wardrobes and/or a chest of drawers, a dining table and chairs and tableware. It does NOT include a dishwasher or TV.

V is for

Voids

Void periods are the days and weeks between a tenant moving out and the next one moving in. It’s dead time when the property won’t be earning rent.

Z is for

Zip. Renting a property can be expensive but if you use movebee it’s free. Find out more.