The law is extremely clear when it comes to the responsibilities that you will have when renting out a property. There are certain regulations that need to be adhered to, mostly for the safety of your tenants. Fortunately, none of these rules is complex or draconian. They are easy and fairly cheap to follow. The consequences of ignoring these regulations can be severe, so it is extremely important to make sure you understand them fully and comply.
You’ll probably be aware of the fact that you will be required to undertake any necessary repairs to the property as and when they are required. Cosmetic repairs aren’t a legal requisite, but any structural or exterior repairs will have to be completed as soon as possible. The law will also require you to maintain the electrical, heating and hot water systems in the property.
There are also a few other slightly more esoteric rules that you may not be aware of.
Firstly, all of the soft furnishings that you provide for your tenants must comply with fire safety regulations. This is unlikely to be a problem, as the vast majority of major furniture outlets only sell furniture that abides by these regulations. However, if you are buying furniture second hand or from a heavily discounted store, then you should double check to ensure that the furniture is up to code. Check for the fire safety label on the furniture, and make sure that it states the furniture abides by the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) Safety Regulations 1988. Ideally a property should be let unfurnished.
If you have any type of gas appliance in the property, such as a gas fire, a gas oven or a gas powered central heating system, then you need to obtain gas safety certification. This might sound like a complex and arduous process, but it merely involves a quick inspection by a GasSafe registered plumber or heating engineer. Most local plumbing companies charge a small fee for this service, which must be carried out annually.
Your electrical installations and equipment must be safe, although no specific certification is required. Despite this, you have a duty of care to your tenants and should still have your electrical systems tested regularly by a qualified electrician. It’s also your responsibility to ensure that tenants are provided with operating instructions and safety notices for any electrical systems in the home.
If you have a disabled tenant, the law requires you to make “reasonable adjustments” to your property to accommodate them. This is a problem that few landlords are likely to run into. Even if you do run into this issue, you will not be compelled to make any expensive or permanent adjustments to your property.
If you are renting out a shared house, for example to the student market, there are certain extra regulations that you have to abide by. There are also limits to occupancy. These regulations vary by area, and you can get in touch with the local council’s housing department to find out exactly which rules you need to abide by.
Letting agencies can make sure your property complies with these laws and many more. Some agencies can also manage all the costs of letting out your property. They can also help you out with any other concerns about your responsibilities as a landlord, including information about landlords insurance policies and other related matters.