How to be a good landlord – a quick guide

Your tenant is likely to have an assured shorthold tenancy if:

– you are a private landlord
– the tenancy began on or after 28th February 1997
– the house or flat is let as separate accommodation and is your tenant’s main home.

If you are not sure what sort of tenancy your tenant has, ask us.

Most landlords want to be a good landlord but might be unsure of their responsibilities. These tips may help highlight some of their responsibilities.

– If you are using an agent, ask whether the agent is a member of a professional body such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the National Approved Lettings Scheme or the Property Ombudsman – agents who belong to such organisations have to sign up to certain standards of practice and you will have access to an independent complaints procedure should things go wrong.
– Have a written agreement with your agent so it is clear what responsibilities the agent is carrying out on your behalf.
– Inform your mortgage company and insurer if you intend to rent to someone else a property you previously lived in as owner. There may be restrictions on your mortgage and you may need to amend your insurance cover.
– Ask prospective tenants for a reference from a former landlord if possible to reduce your risks.
– Use a written tenancy agreement as this will help ensure your tenant knows what they are responsible for, such as who pays utility bills, how long the tenancy is for and arrangements for paying the rent.
-Agree an inventory with your tenant at the start of the tenancy. This will make things easier if there is a dispute over the return of the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
– Provide contact details to your tenant so that they can get in touch if there are any problems.
– Protect your tenant’s deposit in one of the three government-authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes. This is a legal requirement if you use an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.
– Provide a gas safety certificate if there are gas appliances in the property. It is a legal requirement to have an annual gas safety check carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer and to provide your tenant with the certificate within 28 days of each annual check.
– Provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – this shows the energy performance of the property and must be provided whenever the property is let to a new tenant. Do you have a previous EPC, for example when you bought your property, which may still be valid.
– Consider having the electrical installations and equipment checked. There is no legal requirement to have an electrical safety certificate but you do have a duty to keep electrical installations in proper working order and to ensure that any electrical equipment supplied with the property is safe.
– Keep the property in good repair – local authorities have powers to take action against you if the property contains serious health and safety hazards. Health and safety guidance for landlords can be at:
– Make sure your tenants are safe by installing and maintaining a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector (this is not a legal requirement but is regarded as best practice).
– Give your tenant proper written notice if you want possession of your property. We can help ensure you serve the correct notice on your tenant.

NB. This article contains information of general interest on current legal issues. It does not give specific legal advice.

by Jenny Rushmer from the Wisbech office