Part of the service we provide for our clients is to offer friendly advice and to ensure that they stay on the right side of both the law and their bank manager.

We would therefore like to draw your attention to the following points which all landlords should be aware of –

Gas Safety Checks

As per our terms of business, all properties with a gas supply must – by law – be tested every 12 months to ensure they are safe. We will arrange this for you automatically and the cost will be deducted from your rent – should a property ever fail a check, we will have to instruct repairs immediately if the property is occupied (to avoid disconnection of the supply). We will always keep you informed of any repairs which are being carried out.

Electrical Safety Checks

Legally, this is a bit of a grey area – the law does not state that you MUST have an electrical safety certificate. However, under Common Law and various statutory regulations: The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, The Housing Act 2004, The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, and the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, both of which come under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, there is an obligation to ensure that all electrical equipment is “safe”.

We choose to interpret “safe” as inspected by a qualified electrician who issues an inspection report confirming the state of wiring and appliances – whilst you may choose not to have this carried out, we would strongly recommend you do so, especially in any property over five years old. In the worst case scenario, if your house burns down and your tenants die, this is your evidence of due diligence which will keep you out of prison. Please let us know if you would like us to arrange an inspection.

Smoke Detectors

As landlords and letting agents, there is a requirement to take care of tenants safety and to exercise due diligence to prevent your property burning down in the event of a fire. It is therefore necessary to fit at least one battery operated smoke detector on each floor of your property – they cost a few pounds each and can easily be DIY installed or alternatively we can arrange for a contractor to supply and fit them to your property for a small charge.

Energy Performance Certificates

In our opinion this is pointless bureaucracy, as in the last twelve months no tenant has ever asked to see one – however, the law says you must have one before the property can be marketed by the agent and if you don’t both landlord and agent receive a large fine. As we would rather this did not happen, we will always arrange one for any property we are instructed to market unless you supply us with one at the outset – they are valid for ten years, so the good news is that you won’t need another in a hurry.

Repairs

Unfortunately, things do break down over time – carpets become worn, walls become marked, boilers break down and electric showers burn out. New legislation which is relevant to landlords is also being constantly introduced by the government. Sadly, all these things cost you, the landlord, money. Whilst we cannot be expected to police the financial situation of our landlords, we would advise you to keep 20% or so of the rent you receive for a rainy day, as well as ensuring that you have adequate savings to cover any emergencies. If a boiler breaks down it has to be fixed straight away, it can’t wait until your next pay day.



Insurance

If you have a mortgage on your property, you will certainly need buildings insurance. If you don’t have a mortgage, we would still seriously recommend you have buildings insurance! Many of our landlords also take out a minimum level (£5,000 or so) of contents insurance even on an unfurnished properties – this will cover any white goods, carpets and blinds. We are happy to recommend UKinsuranceNet for a free quote, visit www.ukinsurancenet.com/landlord-insurance?aff=FP1 or call 01325 346 328 and quote reference FP1.

Property Sales & Valuation

Whilst this is not a service that we are able to offer clients ourselves, we have a relationship with several independent estate agents which enable us to arrange this on your behalf if necessary.

Tax

The dreaded “T” word…. Sadly, yes, all landlords need to file a tax return if they are receiving income from a property, even if they are showing a “loss”.Whilst we do not offer the information we have regarding our landlords to HMRC, from time to time they do ask for a list of who we act for and we legally have to give it to them. If you choose not to tell the Revenue about any rental income you receive, on your head be it – we would always advise that you do and would be happy to pass on the details of a really, really good (and not blisteringly expensive) accountant if required.

Overseas Landlords

If you reside outside of the UK, you MUST contact HMRC to obtain an Overseas Landlords Registration Number, which you must then inform us of. If you do not, then we are legally obliged to deduct 20% of your rental income in tax and pay it to HMRC on your behalf. Sorry, this is non-negotiable as we don’t fancy the hefty fines we are liable for if we don’t comply. If you need more information on the subject please visit: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/international/nr-landlords.htm#2

Legionnaires' Disease.

After a recent directive by the Health & Safety Executive, landlords of residential accommodation have responsibilities for combating Legionnaires' Disease. Health and safety legislation requires that landlords carry out risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires' Disease and thereafter maintain control measures to minimise the risk. Most rented premises will be low risk but it is important that risk assessments are carried out and control measures introduced. As the consequences for not complying can be serious (heavy fines or even imprisonment can be imposed, especially if someone were to unfortunately die.), we can arrange for a competent assessor to visit your property and carry out an assessment and an annual review.


And So On…

There are also a million and one things we could tell you about managing residential property, but to do so this page would end up looking like a telephone directory. We want your experience as a landlord to be as pleasurable as possible and so should you ever have any queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – if we don’t know the answer ourselves we will always put you in touch with the right person.