How to Enter the Rental Market
The real estate market can be fruitful, especially if you have a spare room, house, or set of properties. Becoming a landlord in the UK is as simple as having property available that you can let out. But you’ll also need to follow a set of strict guidelines laid down by the government, for rental properties.
These guidelines are meant to ensure that your property is good enough to let out, and doesn’t pose any health or safety risks for tenants. If you want to enter the rental market, then it’s a good idea to know what your responsibilities as a landlord are. In certain cases, such as regarding home repairs, there are renovations that you can charge tenants for, but mostly maintenance is legally your responsibility.
How Can You Become a Landlord?
The first step to becoming a landlord is ensuring that your property meets the standards set down by the government. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is used by the local council to ensure that all properties being rented out are safe for tenants. They may or may not conduct inspections on your property to ensure that it’s safe.
Health and Safety
Usually, the council performs inspections under two circumstances:
- If the tenant requests an inspection.
- If the council, during a survey of the neighbourhood, thought that conducting an inspection was warranted.
They look at twenty-nine different areas when performing these health and safety inspections. If any violations are found, these are then categorised under either Category 1 or Category 2.
Ideally, your aim from the get-go should be to ensure that your property is safe for the tenants. Do your own health and safety inspection to ensure that:
- All furniture and fittings are working fine.
- Water and heating systems are in working order.
- Electricity should be working properly. There should be no exposed wiring.
- There shouldn’t be any mold, pests, insects, or other contaminants.
- The property should be clean and hygienic.
As long as you can maintain these basic health and safety guidelines, you shouldn’t face any problems from the council. But should they conduct an investigation and find that expected health and safety guidelines have not been met, then they can:
- Ask you to fix it using an enforcement notice. Please note that you can appeal an enforcement notice.
- Make repairs themselves and then charge you accordingly.
- Prohibit you from using any section of the property that is deemed unsafe for habitation.
Aside from ensuring that health and safety standards are met, your properties should also meet fire safety standards.
All properties being let out should be equipped both with smoke, as well as carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors should also come with alarms that alert people in the house in the event of danger.
If your property is a flat among a group of flats, then you may need to follow the fire safety regulations set down for those flats.
It’s the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have not just been fitted, but also tested. If they break down, it will also be your responsibility to repair and replace them as soon as possible.
Certificates and Compliance Requirements
Before you can rent out your property, you will need to get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and receive a passing grade in it. The passing grade for your EPC is an ‘E’. Aside from this, you will also need to get your energy as well as gas safety certificates.
When it comes to energy and gas safety, inspections will have to be performed every year. Gas inspection, in particular, need to be performed by a registered engineer from Gas Safe.
As per the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Act of 2002, you will also need to get your property checked for legionella. Legionella is a bacteria that can be found in the air conditioning, heating system, or water pipes. It can be very deadly, and only a trained expert can detect it. Due to the law, you will have to get a legionella risk assessment done before you can rent out your property.
In addition to obtaining necessary certificates, check with your local council to ensure that you’ve met all compliance requirements to become a landlord.
Your Responsibilities As A Landlord
Aside from ensuring that your property is in working order, and meets the standards set by government guidelines, you’ll also have other duties. One of the most important of these, is crafting the tenancy agreement.
Before a tenant can officially start living in your property, they will need to sign a tenancy agreement with you. These list down the conditions for the tenancy, such as the length of term the tenant can stay, their rent, etc. You should also consider doing a background check on new tenants to ensure that they have the legal right to rent property within the UK.
Repairs and Maintenance
As a landlord, you’ll be responsible for ensuring that repair work and maintenance are done when necessary. This includes repairing electric, heating or water problems as well. You are legally allowed to enter your property to make repairs, but you should ideally give your tenants 24 hours notice. In the event of an emergency, you can immediately enter your property.
In general, aside from water, heating, as well as electricity, you will also be responsible for the structure and fittings on the property. In case you make any damage during repairs, then you’ll need to pay for those repairs yourself as well. There are circumstances where you can charge the tenant for repairs, such as when they deliberately or accidentally damage the property. But a tenant cannot be charged for fire and water damages.
Security Deposit and Damages
Many landlords ask tenants for a security deposit at the time of signing the lease. This deposit goes towards ensuring that in case the tenant damages the property in any way, remuneration is available.
You can ask the tenant for damages that they make, such as damaging furniture, or the walls.
In the event you do encounter a situation where you have to ask the tenant for damages, they can challenge you in claims court. Should the tenant damage your property in any way, an amount equivalent to the damages incurred can be deducted from their deposit.
Under all other circumstances, the security deposit is returned to the tenant at the end of their lease.
Paying Income Tax
Income tax will have to be paid on the property you want to rent. This income tax is paid as rental income, and doesn’t include your running expenses. In the event that your letting out of properties is considered a business, you will also need to apply for Class 2 National Insurance.
Renting Out Mortgaged Property
Should the property you’re renting out currently be mortgaged, then you’ll need to secure permission from the mortgage lender before you can rent your property.
As a landlord, you will be responsible for maintaining your property, and ensuring that it meets set government standards. If you need help with entering the rental market, consider Naccs Accommodation. With services from Naccs Accommodation, you’ll be able to find solutions to all your problems as a landlord. Get in touch today!