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landlord guide

If you let your property or are thinking about renting your property through an assured shorthold tenancy it is a good idea to know your rights and responsibilities as a landlord. You will need to provide a tenancy for your tenants if you are a private landlord, and the property you are renting out is separate accommodation that is your tenant’s main home.

If you decide to use an agent, make sure they have the SAFE kitemark, which will mean they have client money protection in case the agency goes out of business for any reason. Also check if the agent is a member of places such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents or National Approved Lettings Scheme. This will ensure they uphold certain standards, and give you much more security. Ensure you have a written agreement with your agent, stating their responsibilities.

You will need to contact your mortgage company and insure to inform then that you will be renting your property out to a different occupier. There may be restrictions on your mortgage, so be prepared for that.

When choosing a tenant, ask for a reference and carry out certain checks to reduce any risks and protect yourself. When signing up your new tenant, make sure you are both aware of each other’s responsibilities. This should be outlined within the tenancy agreement, along with an inventory for items within the property or existing damage. Also ensure your tenant has your contact details in case of any problems.

You will need to put your tenant’s deposit into a government authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. This is a legal requirement and helps to protect both yourself and your tenants in case of a dispute. You will also need to provide a gas safety certificate for any gas appliances in the home. You are also required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate each time a new tenant takes over the property.

It is a local authority requirement that you keep the property in a good state of repair, however If there are any serious health and safety problems, they can take action against you if you do not comply. Also although it is not a legal requirement, it is a good idea to get a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector installed.

If you encounter any problems with your tenants, try and remain calm, and deal with issues as and when they arise, If you have difficulty communicating, then it may be possible to gain mediation through your local authority. Don’t neglect any repairs, as it could be hazardous as well as prove costly in the future. If and when you need to gain possession of your home, you will need to follow the correct procedures and give your tenant written notice. You cannot forcefully remove your tenants, enter their property or remove their belongings. You could be prosecuted as this is illegal, as well as being very distressing. There is plenty of advice available for landlords with the citizen’s advice or through the government website.

by Cormac Henderson

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