Navigating Legalities: A Guide for New Landlords

If you have decided to purchase a second property and rent it out, you may be feeling preoccupied with matters such as finalising financial details, choosing a managing agent or liaising with builders and decorators about making improvements. Amidst all these details it is important not to forget about legal requirements you will be taking on as a landlord.

Renting out a property and becoming a landlord is a significant responsibility and one that comes with a lot of legal requirements. Here’s a brief introduction to what becoming a landlord entails.

Know what you're getting into
Becoming a landlord can be a daunting proposition, as it effectively requires a property owner to trust strangers with a home. Before advertising for tenants it is important to understand the rules and regulations the law requires you to adhere to. This includes:

  • Ensuring that all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained.
  • Keeping your property free from health hazards.
  • Ensure the tenant is the right to rent your property
  • Providing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your property
  • Arranging for your tenant’s deposit to be protected by a government-approved scheme

A property solicitor is well placed to help guide a landlord through the maze of regulations and ensure that they adhere to current legislation

Keep on top of paperwork
As the person ultimately responsible for the roof over your tenant’s head, it is important to put the right legal documentation in place to protect both parties and ensure clarity from the start of your landlord/tenant relationship. Unless you choose to manage the entire leasing process yourself, you will also enter into an agreement with your chose estate agent.

Bringing in a lawyer to assist in property matters can make a genuine difference to the process of becoming a landlord, providing you with valuable advice from a professional who is on your side and can help to protect your interests. A lawyer will be able to handle letters, forms and documents, either by drafting and advising on them or, in some cases, providing templates that you can work with for a smoother journey through being a landlord.

It is not a legal requirement in England and Wales to have a lease or tenancy agreement in place, but it can be an essential tool for a landlord in the event of a dispute. Agreements outline what is expected of a tenant, including how much they pay, how long the agreement will last for, how many people will be in residence and whether any pets can be kept.

Be a responsible landlord
There are a number of procedures in place today to keep the relationship between landlord and tenant fair. This includes initiatives such as Tenancy Deposit Schemes and an array of legislation that protects both parties.

As a landlord, you have a duty to manage health and safety issues relating to sanitation, ventilation, heating, electricity and the structure of a property. It is important to keep a close eye on the state of your rented property and this can be done with the help of both property professionals and legal experts to ensure that you always adhere to the rules and regulations in place for your tenants’ safety.

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