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  • Landlord checklist

    The definitive checklist for new landlords

    Learn about some of the key considerations and legal requirements in AXA’s helpful guide.

    15 June 2016
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    Being a landlord sounds like a simple enough job; find a good buy-to-let opportunity, let it to some good tenants and collect the rental income each month.

    However, as a landlord, you have a number of responsibilities to your tenants, many of them legal requirements, which can make the job more complicated than you might’ve first imagined. To help you out, this guide outlines some of the key considerations you should be ticking off your checklist as you become a new landlord, plus some useful information for existing landlords too!


    Landlord checklist
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    Carry out health and safety checks

    To successfully let a property there are a number of health and safety guidelines that must be followed to prevent tenants from being injured and you, as the landlord, from being sued. These responsibilities include the legal requirement to have all gas-related equipment serviced at least once every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered technician. Although this is a legal requirement, 43% of landlords fail to arrange annual Gas Safety checks.

    Any electrical appliances provided to the tenant are subject to regular servicing and an electrical safety check. A qualified electrician should carry out a portable appliance test (PAT) once every 12 months on appliances to ensure they are fit for purpose and that your tenants are not at risk by using them. Records should be kept of all safety inspections and repairs.

    Carry out fire safety checks

    It is a compulsory requirement in the UK that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms be fitted in rented accommodation. Fatalities are at least four times more likely if there is no working alarm, yet 51% of landlords haven’t installed a fire alarm. The regulation states that at least one smoke alarm be installed on every storey of the rental accommodation and in each of the main living areas. These alarms should also be interconnected and mains wired. Placing a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance is also mandatory, although this can be battery operated. As the landlord, you must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in a fine of up to £5,000. Fire doors and fire extinguishers are mandatory for HMO properties, with the latter checked once every 12 months by a qualified professional.

    Set the right rent

    As a landlord, you want to make a decent income from your rental property. Set the rent too high, however, and you may chase away prospective tenants. The average UK rental value increased 4.9% in 2016, showing that the private rental sector is growing. But what does that mean for you? Speak to local letting agents to get an idea of how much the local market value for a rental property is in your area - there are also a number of resources online. Tenants have the right to challenge the landlord if they feel the rent is too high. It is also a legal obligation of the landlord to be able to provide a record of all payments and receipts for rent paid during the tenancy.

    Keep the tenant’s deposit safe

    From 6 April 2007 in England and 7 March 2011 in Scotland it is a legal requirement to protect your tenants’ deposit by placing it in a tenancy deposit protection scheme, such as mydeposits. There are a number of government-backed schemes available, but they all guarantee that your tenants will get their deposit back if they meet the terms of your tenancy agreement, don’t cause any damage to the property, and pay their rent and bills. As the landlord, you must put your tenants’ deposit in the scheme within 30 days of getting it.

    Recruit a letting agent

    Many landlords still choose to let and manage their properties themselves. Using an agent, however, can make the process much easier and is a worthy consideration. This is particularly true if you don’t have the time to manage the property, if you own more than one property (making the process intensive), or if you are not as familiar with the property market and legal requirements. Choosing a good agent is made easier by selecting one with accreditation, for example, from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).  

    Get accreditation as a landlord

    As a landlord, you must ensure that you register yourself with the local council in your area. If you let several properties and consider managing them to be your sole business, then you might consider joining a landlord association. There are more than 50 Acts of Parliament and more than 70 sets of regulations that govern the private rental sector. Joining a body such as the Residential Landlord Association (RLA) can offer you help and advice in managing your property and dealing with the legal requirements of being a landlord. Being a member of a landlord association may also make you more attractive to prospective tenants, as they will know that you abide by the regulatory requirements for being a landlord.

    Decoration

    Keeping your property’s décor up to date is a great idea and can help attract potential tenants. If you choose to provide your tenants with furniture you must ensure that it complies with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988. This is a legal requirement that requires all furniture to have set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture. If you’re providing your tenant with more than just furniture, make sure that you keep an inventory of all items in the rental property and give a copy to the tenant. This will help avoid any disputes if anything is damaged or goes missing during the tenancy.

    Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) checks

    An HMO property is classed as any property occupied by at least three tenants who are from more than one household i.e. if the tenants are from more than one family, and if they share bathroom and kitchen facilities. An HMO property must have a licence if it is both three or more storeys high and if it is occupied by five or more people. A licence can be obtained through your local council and requires a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) risk assessment.

    Other responsibilities

    It is mandatory for all properties built, sold or rented to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The certificate provides information about a property’s energy use and typical costs, as well as recommendations on how to reduce energy use and save money. An EPC can be obtained through an accredited assessor. As a landlord, you will most likely have to pay tax on the income you receive from rent. When you start renting out property, be sure to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to avoid paying a penalty later on. The amount of tax you have to pay will depend on your total profit from your rental income minus allowable expenses. Allowable expenses in the rental sector can include letting agents’ fees, accountants’ fees and buildings and contents insurance.

    Landlord insurance

    Landlord insurance is highly recommended if you’re letting a property to tenants. A landlord insurance policy usually includes the same type of cover as home insurance, including buildings and contents cover, but it also includes some extras that are essential to landlords. This can include loss of earnings cover if the property becomes uninhabitable due to damage, and liability cover to protect you if, for example, someone injures themselves on your property.

    Looking for comprehensive landlord insurance? Visit our residential landlord insurance page to find out more.

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