Property Landlords – Legal Obligations

Helpful advice from Bishop Sullivan the Residential Property Letting Agent and Property Management Agent in Brighton, Hove, Kemptown & surrounding areas.

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General rule of thumb

  • The Landlord is responsible for the structure, exterior and interior maintenance to include drains and gutters, (supply of) water, gas and electricity, central and water heating, buildings and contents insurance (barring Tenant‚Äôs possessions).
  • The Tenant is responsible for insuring their own possessions, the Council Tax, Gas, Water, Electric and telephone accounts.

Gas safety regulations

  • The Gas Safety (installation and use) Regulations 1994, 1996 and 1998 state all gas appliances within a property require an annual service and safety check by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • The certificate must be provided to the Tenant(s).

Electrical safety regulations

  • There is no statutory obligation for Landlords or Agents to have professional checks carried out on the electrical system or appliances.
  • However, under Common Law and various statutory regulations (The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, The Housing Act 2004, The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 – both of which come under the Consumer Protection Act 1987) there is an obligation to ensure that all electrical equipment is safe.

Fire regulations for furnished properties

  • The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, amended 1993, require any furnished property must comply with BSI standards (unless pre 1950‚Äôs furniture).
  • Either the label or receipt for any item of soft furnishings supplied will be required.
  • Failure to comply carries a fine of up to ¬£5000.

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

  • All new homes built since June 1992 must be fitted with mains operated smoke detectors on each floor of the building.
  • As of 1 October 2015 all homes must have a working smoke alarm on each floor of the ‘living accommodation’ at the commencement of a Tenancy.
  • Mains operated is the safest option, otherwise we strongly recommend a BS standard battery operated device.
  • The Tenants are responsible for maintenance of battery operated devices.
  • As of 1 October 2015 it is now a legal requirement to have a carbon monoxide alarm in each room where solid fuel is used (coal or wood).

Insurance

  • We strongly recommend you advise all relevant parties of your intention to let your property in order to comply with the terms and conditions of your agreement(s). While buildings insurance is mandatory we strongly suggest contents insurance is also taken in order for possible damage by Tenants is covered. Bishop Sullivan¬†will not be held liable for financial loss or damage during a Tenancy however we are able to help if a policy is required.

Mortgages

  • Your property must be on a ‚ÄòBuy to Let‚Äô mortgage, failure to do so could invalidate your Tenancy. If you do not have a Buy to Let mortgage the below may apply:
  1. In some cases a higher interest rate may be charged.
  2. In some cases your mortgage company will levy an administration charge.
  3. References and Tenancy Agreements may be requested by your mortgage company before permission is granted.
  4. Mortgagors may insist on specific documentation to ensure re-possession is possible.
  • They may insist on the managing agent being a member of a regulatory body such as ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents).
  1. A length of time the property may be let for is often set by the mortgagor.
  2. Permission will often only be granted if the mortgage account has been managed to the lenders satisfaction.

Right to Rent

Under Right to Rent 01-FEB 2016, landlords or their agents should check identity documents for all new tenants, and take copies.

The documents include:

  • a UK passport
  • a European Economic Area passport or identity card
  • a permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain
  • a Home Office immigration status document
  • a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen

A full list of documents is available here

Landlords should bear in mind that the checks should be carried out on all, not just some, new tenants.

There are codes of practice to be followed, including guidance on avoiding unlawful discrimination which was drawn up with the assistance of the Human Rights Commission.

There are four steps involved in making a Right to Rent check:

  1. Check which adult tenants will live in the property as their only or main home
  2. Ask tenants for the original documents that show they have the right to be in the UK
  3. Check the documents are valid with the tenant present
  4. Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check

If a potential tenant has an outstanding immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, you can conduct a check on that person’s ‘right to rent’ via the Landlords Checking Service here.

Tenant Deposits

  • Since April 2008 it has been a legal requirement for Tenant’s deposits to be registered with one of the three deposit schemes: TDS (Tenancy Deposit Scheme, DPS (Deposit Protection Scheme) and MyDeposits. TDS allows you¬†to hold the deposit in a separate account, DPS and MyDeposits are custodial schemes which hold the deposit on behalf of the Tenant.
  • Failure to protect the deposit, provide all Tenants with a copy of the certificate, serve both the written Prescribed Information and the Govt Prescribed Information (How to Rent booklet here) correctly can all affect your ability to regain possession of the property and result in penalty payments to the Tenants. If you are unsure I would strongly recommend using an agent.

Tax (guidance only)

  • If you live outside the UK, we are required to deduct and account for tax to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) under its Non-Resident Landlord Scheme. Alternatively you can apply to the HMRC at www.hmrc.gov.uk for approval to receive your rental income without tax deducted in which case any tax due will be calculated and paid when you submit your annual tax return. Please note that in the case of joint Landlords each Landlord will require their own individual approval number to avoid tax being deducted from the rental income. If we are not collecting rent for more than three months the liability to deduct any tax will fall on the Tenant(s).
  • Bishop Sullivan always recommend you seek professional advice in matters such as this.