There is a lot for landlords to consider when letting a property and what is required often relates to the date a tenancy was granted and the area the property is in. However, assuming most tenancies have been granted post October 2015 and on the basis that this article should not be taken as, nor relied upon as specific advice but as a guide for landlords only, I set out below a list of some of the matters that should be considered before or upon letting out a property, some legal, some practical.
Who are you letting to?
• Is the tenant, or all the tenants over the age of 18 and do they have a right to remain in UK indefinitely? As a landlord you must check that a tenant (whether named in the agreement or not) has a right to rent in England. If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, you need to do the check in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy. To this end, you need to check the ID of the tenants and their right to remain in England.
• Have you undertaken any credit checks? Are references from previous landlords available? If the tenant has failed a credit check, or statements show that they may struggle to pay the rent then you have to consider the commercial reality that may face you in months to come. If a tenant is not in full time employment, perhaps you could consider a Guarantor, so as to protect your position.
• How long do you want to rent the tenancy for, and is there a break clause?
Is the property safe?
You must make sure any gas equipment is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer and ensure that a registered engineer do an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue – a certificate must be issued and provided to the tenant before they move in, or within 28 days of the check.
In relation to fire safety, you should provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance and make sure the furniture and furnishings they supply are fire safe. Make sure that there are means of escape in the event of a fire.
If the property is large, or a House of Multiple Occupation, then fire alarms and extinguishers should be installed at the property.
If the property is not safe, or even is in disrepair then the Local Authority could become involved and serve notices in respect of works. Failure to comply with such a notice could be deemed a criminal offence and prevent any possession proceedings.
Do you need a Licence?
• Is your property in an area where the Local Authority requires the Landlord to have a licence in order to privately rent the property? The same is true if the property is let as a House of Multiple Occupation. Check the website of the Local Authority in which the property is.
• Are you taking a deposit? If so, it must be protected ina government approved deposit scheme within 30 days or receipt AND you must provide the ‘prescribed information’ in respect of the deposit to the tenants.
Eleanor Grindley is a solicitor in the property dispute resolution department at SA Law.