If you are considering launching into business as a landlord, you should realise that it brings with it certain obligations.
Here at UKinsurancenet we are experts in insurance for landlords rather than the general legal framework surrounding a landlord business.
However, we do receive questions on some of these subjects and following is a brief overview of some of your obligations.
What are the legal requirements governing property safety?
We are not qualified to offer legal advice but broadly speaking, you will be expected to provide your tenants with a safe and habitable living environment.
There are specific regulations governing things such as regular gas safety checks and electrical inspections. Note that your obligations are wider than that though and include things such as maintenance and acceptable minimum living standards.
You can get a broader overview of some of the issues here by looking at the government's own website at www.gov.uk
It will be wise to thoroughly research this entire area before starting to obtain rental income from a property.
Do I need to register?
In some parts of the United Kingdom, yes that will be an obligation.
In others, including many parts of England, at the time of writing the position remains fluid.
You should contact your local authority for advice and guidance.
Can I ask for a rental deposit in advance?
Yes you can, though following recent changes in the law, the deposit must be lodged with an officially-approved guarantee scheme.
You are not allowed to simply deposit the money into your own bank any longer.
Am I obliged to take out insurance cover?
If you have a buy-to-let mortgage, your mortgage lender may insist that you maintain full buildings cover at all times. In the context of letting your property out, that would of course be landlords' insurance.
If you have an existing owner-occupier mortgage and are considering letting your property out, you may be obliged to notify your mortgage provider in advance and obtain their permission.
Given that any existing owner-occupier insurance cover will typically become invalid the moment you start using your property for letting purposes, you will also need to change your policy to provide landlords' cover.
How can I evict my tenants?
Space doesn't permit a full discussion of this and it might be advisable to read the appropriate sections of the government's web site mentioned above.
However, you will be obliged to go through the due processes as defined by law.
Over recent years these have been revised to make it easier for landlords, operating under modern tenancy types, to evict tenants who have refused to move following a legitimate notice to quit.
You should be aware that the law will typically take a dim view of any landlord who attempts to apply pressure or coercion (even non-physical) to tenants in order to make them vacate the property. Such practices are illegal and the penalties might be severe for any landlord who transgresses and attempts to bypass due legal process,
Can I ask my tenants to take out property insurance?
No, even if it were possible, it is counter-intuitive and would be unacceptable to your mortgage provider.
If you think about the broader issue, you may wish to question whether you would like your property insurance and financial future to effectively be in the hands of your tenants?
You may be able to strongly recommend to your tenants that they take out their own forms of insurance to cover them for things such as being unable to pay the rent due to sickness etc.
It might also be part of standard business practice to build in the cost of your annual insurance into your calculations of the rent levels you will need to obtain.