Top 10 legal tips for landlords in Torbay

Top 10 legal tips for landlords

Top 10 legal tips for landlords - Credit: Ridgewater Sales and Lettings

Whether you already have a property you’re looking to rent out in Torbay or you’re thinking of investing in a buy-to-let, it’s vital that you know your legal responsibilities and requirements as a landlord, both to protect yourself and your tenants.

Here are Ridgewater Sales and Lettings' top 10 legal tips for landlords:

1 Landlord insurance

It’s vital that you take out specialist landlord insurance, as your standard buildings and contents insurance won’t cover you and may be invalidated if you’re renting your property out. The right landlord insurance policy will cover you for damage to the property, loss of rent and legal expenses, so it’s worth having.

Buying property and renting it out can be a rewarding investment.

Buying property and renting it out can be a rewarding investment. - Credit: Archant

2 Draw up a tenancy agreement

This document will set out the terms of the tenancy between you and the tenant and will help to protect both parties in the event of a dispute. Ensure that a new agreement is drawn up with each new tenant, as tweaking an old agreement could mean you miss important legal changes that have occurred in the meantime.

3 Arrange regular inspections – but don’t just drop in!

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It’s important to check your property every so often to ensure it’s being looked after. However, you should be aware that it’s illegal to just enter the property without the tenant’s permission. It’s advised to give them a minimum of 24 hours’ written notice. This should be stipulated in your tenancy agreement.

4 Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Landlords have a legal responsibility to serve tenants with an EPC, which must have a minimum rating of E. You can provide this along with the tenancy agreement and have the tenant sign to confirm receipt.

5 Gas Safety Certificate

If your property has gas appliances, then you’re required to have them checked by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. They’ll be able to provide you with a certificate that will need to be renewed annually. A copy of this should be given to your tenants along with their tenancy agreement.

6 Electrical safety checks

You’ll need to have the electrical system checked every 5 years by a qualified electrician. It’s also a good idea to have any appliances in the property PAT tested, but this isn’t legally required. Smoke alarms will also need to be fitted on each floor and these need to be tested on the first day of the tenancy. It’s also strongly advised to have carbon monoxide detectors fitted and tested too.

7 Check if you need a licence

Some local authorities will require you to have a licence before you can rent out a property, so you’ll need to check before proceeding. This often applies to HMOs and student accommodation, so get in touch with Torbay Council to find out if it applies to you.

know your legal responsibilities and requirements as a landlord

Know your legal responsibilities and requirements as a landlord - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

8 Protect your tenants’ deposit

If you’ve taken a deposit from your tenants then this will need to be protected in a Government-authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme.

There are three to choose from:

  • Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
  • MyDeposits
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)

You’ll need to protect the deposit within 30 days of receiving it and provide your tenants with a deposit protection certificate and prescribed information such as the amount of the deposit, address of the property and details of the tenancy deposit scheme where it’s held.

You will also need to provide your tenants with a copy of the Government’s How to Rent guide.

If you fail to take these steps, you won’t be able to evict your tenant and you could be fined up to three times the value of the deposit. It’s also unlikely that you will be able to make any deductions from your tenants deposit at the end of their tenancy if you need to claim any money back for damages to the property.

9 Tenant checks

You need to know who you’re renting your property out to, and by law you need to make sure that your prospective tenants have the right to rent property.

It’s also a good idea to carry out a referencing check. This will confirm important details, such as employment status and whether or not the tenants have had issues paying rent previously.

10 Keep the property maintained

While your tenants have a duty to keep the property in good condition, it is your responsibility to ensure that it’s well maintained, and any issues are fixed promptly.

It’s helpful to have a good relationship with your tenants, and if they contact you about a problem then you should make every effort to ensure it’s rectified as soon as possible.

Ridgewater Sales and Lettings are your local property management experts for the Torbay area. Landlords – call 01803 525100 or email neil@ridgewater.co.uk to chat with a member of our friendly and experienced team.