Being a landlord isn’t just simply owning a property and renting it out to someone. It requires time, dedication and a willingness to abide by and fulfil your responsibilities to the best of your advantage.
Over the months, in the media, landlords have been depicted to being neglectful of the tenants’ rights as well as their own responsibilities. But this doesn’t always have to be the case.
In our view landlords are those who are willing to go that extra mile for their tenants and show they genuinely care and want to create a lasting relationship with their tenants.
So what is the secret behind being a successful landlord?
It’s simple! Maintain your focus on fulfilling your rightful responsibilities as a landlord. It goes without saying long term tenants are what most landlords aim for. So give your tenants a reason to stay in your property.
Are you aware of your responsibilities as a landlord?
Being a landlord means you have certain responsibilities. These include:
- Ensuring your rental property is safe and free from hazards
- Making sure all gas and electrical equipment you supply to tenants is safely installed and maintained
- Follow all fire safety regulations – details on the Housing: Fire Safety regulations can be found here:http://www.rla.org.uk/docs/LACORSFSguideApril62009.PDF
- Provide your tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property – EPCs are valid on a property for 10 years, so ensure these are updated when needed. Find out the EPC rating of your property here: https://www.epcregister.com/reportSearchAddressTerms.html?redirect=reportSearchAddressByPostcode
- Protect your tenants deposit in a government – approved scheme – There are three main Government Deposit Schemes for England & Wales:
- Deposit Protection Service – http://www.depositprotection.com
- My Deposits – http://www.mydeposits.co.uk
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme – http://www.tds.gb.com
For more information on Tenancy Deposits, click here.
Landlords must ensure their rental properties must be in a good condition, and any gas or electrical systems must meet specific safety standards.
As a landlord you have the right to right to enter the property to carry out repairs or inspect it so long as the tenants are given 24 hours notice. In emergencies immediate access may also be possible. However, it is important to remember the tenants do have the right to remain in the property whilst the landlord is there and whilst repairs are being carried out.
So what repairs are you, as a landlord, responsible for?
Normally, landlords are held responsible for the following repairs:
- The structure of the property
- Basins, sinks, bath or any other sanitary fittings in the property
- The heating and hot water systems in the property
- Any damage that is caused by yourself whilst attempting repairs.
- If the property is seriously damaged due to a fire, flood or any similar incidents, if you choose to rebuild or renovate the property, the cost of repairs lies on the landlord and not on the tenant. You can’t charge the tenant for any repairs made due to this incident.
What if a landlord refuses to carry out repairs?
Refusing to carry out repairs which lie at the responsibility of the landlord will most likely turn out to favour the tenant. By doing so, the tenant is then able to:
- Start a claim in the small claims court for repairs which cost under £5,000
- Carry out the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from their rent
- Ask the local council to inspect the property under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. If hazards in the property are not removed, this could result in enforcement action by the council.
What if a property is temporarily unfit for tenants to live in?
If so, the landlord is able to request that the tenants vacate the property. However, the following three key things should be agreed in writing:
- How long the works will last
- The tenants’ right to return to the property once works have been completed
- Details of temporary/alternative accommodation
As a landlord you are not able to repossess the property to conduct repairs. However, if a landlord has the intention of redeveloping the property or is wanting a lot of work done, then the landlord must apply to the courts for an order for the tenants to leave. It is worth noting, the courts are more likely to grant such an order if the landlord is able to provide alternative accommodation for the tenants during this period.
If the repairs in the property turn out to be disruptive for the tenants, the tenant has the right to claim a ‘rent abatement’ – reduction on their rent, depending on how unusable the property is.
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenants Act 1985 states these obligations require the Landlord to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, and to keep in repair and proper working order the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and the installations in the Property for space heating and heating water.
Increasing your tenants rent
After completing repairs and improvements in the property, a landlord has the right to increase the rent. Details of how and when the landlord is able to review the rent should be stated in the tenancy agreement.
Landlords must obtain their tenants permission before increasing the rent by more than what was previously agreed. Rental increases should be fair, realistic and in accordance to the average rent locally.
If your tenant is in a periodic tenancy (rolling tenancy), a landlord is not able to increase the rent more than once a year without the tenants agreeing.
Fixed Term Tenancies
If your tenant is in a fixed term tenancy (which runs for a set period of time), the landlord is only able to increase the rent if the tenant agrees. Otherwise the landlord should wait until the fixed term tenancy ends and then increase the rent, if desired.
How to increase the rent on your property
A landlord would need to refer to the tenancy agreement between themselves and the tenant. The tenancy agreement should provide details on how the rent can be increase. A landlord has a duty to abide by what is stated in the tenancy.
If details on how to increase the rent are not provided in the tenancy, a landlord has a few options to consider:
- Landlords can renew the tenancy at the end of the fixed term, but with an increased rent
- Agree an increase with the tenants and produce a written document stating both parties have agreed and signed to the rent increase.
Tenants must be given a minimum of one months notice, or 6 months notice if they have a 12 month tenancy, before a rent increase is applied. However, it is important to note, if a tenant feels a rent increase is unfair, they have the right to consult a rent assessment committee to decide the rental amount of the property.
All in all, it seems the life of a landlord can hold a lot of responsibilities. Ultimately, a landlord has two options:
- Delegate the task to a specialist lettings and property management company
- Manage the property themselves –
But consider this; do you really have the time? Or would you rather let someone else deal with the hassle of it all? If so, refer back to the first option and give Silks Estates a call on 01924 477999.