Every landlord needs to follow around 170 different pieces of lettings legislation, so you’re not alone if you’re feeling flummoxed by so many rules and regulations.
Even though we let and manage rental homes every day, we still need to set aside time to keep track of changes to the law and landlords’ responsibilities. And to make sure we get everything right and done on time, we need watertight systems, reminders and checks.
Does this mean that being a landlord is difficult or unprofitable? No, but it can be time-consuming when there’s so much to know and do. You can also be fined or taken to court if you get things wrong.
Some of the biggest misunderstandings we see among landlords and tenants are also some of the most important. So our blog this week covers what you can, can’t, must and mustn’t do, to keep you on the right side of the law for smooth and successful tenancies.
Contrary to popular belief, you can decline tenants with children or pets. However, they’re often the tenants who stay the longest, which means fewer changeovers, void periods and fees for you.
But that doesn’t mean you should accept just anyone, and there are times when it’s right to refuse politely, including when:
We find that asking the right questions and using our experience and intuition weeds out the best tenants. Then we add clauses to tenancy agreements that cover children and pets to clarify how tenants should return a property, which protects our landlords and gives them peace of mind.
The Tenant Fees Act made landlords responsible for the costs of referencing, credit checks, creating tenancy agreements and preparing inventories. However, there is still some confusion among landlords and tenants over any exceptions and what is mandatory or optional. So let’s clear that up.
Crucially, you can only charge any of these costs if you set them out clearly in the tenancy agreement. Penalties for illegally charging tenants start at £5,000 for a first offence, rising to £30,000 and possible criminal prosecution if the offence is repeated within five years.
Inspecting your rental property during a tenancy and keeping on top of maintenance is an essential part of having an excellent relationship with your tenant and keeping your repair costs down. However, there are some rules to remember and boxes to tick.
It’s really worth getting all of these right, because the knock-on effects of getting them wrong can be substantial, from deteriorating relations with your tenant, to large repair bills that could have been avoided by spotting problems early on, to legal costs, financial penalties and even prison.
At some point in your life as a landlord, you’ll probably have to deal with missed rent payments or some sort of disagreement. It pains us to say it, but most landlords lose disputes because they didn’t set their tenancies up correctly in the first place, or because they handled things in the wrong way.
Here’s how to do it right.
A big reason why landlords use managing agents is to keep a degree of separation and perspective in the event of arrears and disputes. Give us a call on 01722 580059 if you’d like us to manage your rental property for you, or take a look at our article on Deposit Disputes to find out more about winning them.
Different rules for different parts of the UK affect the way landlords can regain possession of their properties. The law is broadly similar for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not for Scotland, so it’s essential to understand the rules wherever you own rental homes.
There are lengthy government pages covering Housing Law but here are some of the main points for regaining possession of your property:
On a final note, regardless of whether any eviction bans are in place, going through the courts to regain pattern possession of your property is a lengthy process. The onus is very much on landlords to supply perfect paperwork, and the courts tend to side with tenants when notice is incorrectly served.
Are you on the right side of lettings law?
With so much to know and ever-changing rules, even the most knowledgeable landlords can still make mistakes. So if you’re a landlord in the Wilton & Salisbury area and you want to be sure you’re on the right side of lettings law, why not get in touch?
Give us a call on 01722 580059 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org - we’re here to help and to keep your rental homes legal, let and loved.
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