DIY or outsource: a guide to a successful property management
When we thought about this subject, we discussed the most time-consuming aspects of being a landlord. DIY mostly means a lot of commuting between properties, addressing all the ongoing issues, such as dripping taps, blocked pipes, and cracked walls… indeed, a landlord’s life can be less than glamorous. However, if you decide to spend time on it, you will probably deal with those minor daily issues successfully. What seems to be the hardest and potentially the most expensive side of managing a buy-to-let empire is the legal side. So, this is the aspect that we’d like to focus on in this article.
170, and counting
About 170 pieces of legislation are dedicated to private rentals in the UK, and a landlord needs to know them in detail. That’s a lot to read (we know, we have done that!). And the language is not the most user-friendly, believe us. But these are the rules that govern our industry; we must know them, obey them, and keep an eye on all the updates.
Here’s a starter list of what you need to do to stay on the safe side (read: fine-free side) of the law as a landlord:
· Are smoke alarms in place? You need to have them on every floor of your property, and they need to be linked.
· If your property has a fireplace or a wood-burning stove, you need to install a carbon monoxide detector. If your property has a fireplace or a wood-burning stove, you need to install a carbon monoxide detector. As of 1st October 2022, a new UK Government Carbon Monoxide Legislation will come into effect for all rental properties with a gas supply. Carbon monoxide alarms will be mandatory in all rooms with a fixed combustion appliance i.e., boiler, gas fires, open fires, and log burners (excluding gas cookers & hobs) in both private and social rented homes
· Every gas appliance needs to have its gas safety record (yes, that means paperwork)
· Every electrical device needs to be safe to use (so it is good to test it to prove it, just in case).
· You need an Energy Performance Certificate (there are some exemptions, so ask whether your property qualifies as such), which shows how efficient your property is energy-wise. Under current rules, it needs to be at least at the E level.
· It is your responsibility to know whether your tenants have the right to rent in the UK. It is critical to being a landlord, as ignoring it may mean a fine or even imprisonment. As the landlord, you must check whether a tenant is aged 18 or over and can legally rent in England. There are two types of right to rent checks: a manual document-based check or a check via the Home Office online checking service. You cannot insist which service your prospective tenant chooses to use
· You need to protect your tenant’s deposit. That does not mean keeping it safely in your account – you must do it with a protection scheme acceptable to the UK government. There’s quite a lot to it, so check the links below for details.
· You are letting a property, which means you bear the responsibility of making it and keeping it habitable. In practice, this means any issues involving leaks, roof, chimneys, walls, guttering, water, gas and electricity, and drains are yours (or your property management agencies) to deal with.
Do you feel like you have more questions than answers? Well, there is a lot to deal with, so we do not blame you. If you’d like to chat about the role of a landlord and how to best approach it, do call us on 01386 443 597 and let’s see how we can best advice. It can be tricky but being a landlord can be a gratifying experience – when done right.
Check your tenant’s right to rent: Who you have to check – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
PAT (Portable appliance testing) – HSE’s answers to popular questions
How to rent – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Deposit protection schemes and landlords: Overview – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Guide for landlords: Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)