Landlord Rental Guide
Guiding Landlords Through Renting
With over 30 years’ experience, LDG are best placed to advise you through the processes, to ensure you have peace of mind. In fact, we have produced a handy Landlord Rental Guide to help you get started.
Being a Landlord is an incredibly rewarding, and often considered one of the most secure investments available. However, it is often underestimated what it entails to be a successful landlord, especially within Central London, where the sophisticated tenancy market can be of the most demanding in the country.
Landlord Rental Guide
Ensure You’re Compliant
There are currently over 145 acts and regulations that you are required to fully comply with to protect your tenants’ basic statutory rights. Many of these are achievable with little effort, such as Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations and Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations, however you should be aware of more complex regulations such as Deregulation Act 2015, Immigration Act and Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations, to name but a few.
Through our property management services, LDG manage and process everything for you so that your legal obligations are met, to ensure you and your tenants have a stress-free tenancy.
Meet Tenants’ High Standards
With the majority of UK residents renting at some point during their lifetime, the private rental sector has become more demanding with high standards of living expected by renters. This is particularly the case in Central London, where competition to attract the most, and often the best quality, tenants, is through ensuring you can provide the best quality property.
Keeping designs neutral often provides the best results as minimalist/modernist designs often appeal to everyone. That being said, if you are confident in your interior design prowess, including characteristics such as a simple feature wall, can sometimes help make the property eye-catching, especially on the property portals.
Our experienced lettings team will happily advise you, to ensure you meet the demands of the widest range of audiences.
To Furnish or Not To Furnish – That Is The Question
Whilst there is always a market for unfurnished accommodation, typically the clientele renting in Central London are seeking fully furnished premises and from our own experience, furnished properties often rent a lot quicker than their unfurnished competition, reducing potential tenancy void period.
It is important to bear in mind that you will you become responsible for the repair, maintenance and replacement of furniture and appliances. However, investing in good quality furniture and appliances, regularly maintained, can often last a number of tenancies, which pays for itself in the long run!
Advising on furnishing comes as part and parcel of the service you’ll experience through our lettings department, as it is important and in our interest that our listings offer the highest standards of living to achieve the best returns for our clients.
If required, through our partnerships with a number of furniture rental businesses, we can happily arrange orders for inexpensive but high-quality fixtures on your behalf.
Should You Allow Pets?
We always advise Landlords, where possible, to be lenient, as pet-friendly accommodation is becoming increasingly in demand.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, there is a requirement for contract terms and notices to be fair; therefore, the consent for having a pet in your property cannot be unreasonably withheld, delayed, or withdrawn. For instance, grounds for refusal could include; the animal’s size, the damage it could cause, as well as its impact on future rental prospects. Tenancy Agreements can enforce additional clauses specifically related to pet ownership, including requests for higher standards of cleaning at the end of the tenancy i.e. shampooing the carpets.
Sometimes, the decision is taken out of your control, particularly if your head lease restricts you from accepting tenants with pets. Please check your head lease, or speak to your solicitor for further advice.
Smoke Free Homes
Smoking is a health hazard for tenants and neighbours but can also cause damage to the property. We will always advise you to have a smoke free property and ensure this is stipulated in the Tenancy Agreement. Don’t worry – tenants are used to having such conditions within their tenancies so this won’t reduce your potential tenancy audience.
Have Your Property Properly Appraised
Whilst it is easier than ever to undertake online checks of the estimated rental value of your property, it is important that you have a valuation/appraisal before marketing, as rental values do vary based on size, location and condition, which you cannot easily decipher online.
LDG offer this service free of charge, which includes our advice on how best to maximise your investment.
Whilst almost 50% of our clients outsource the management to our experienced property management team, we do have clients who will manage the properties themselves.
Being a Landlord is a big commitment and it can often feel like a full-time job to manage the property yourself so it’s important to realistically consider whether you are able to do so.
Whilst there may be an additional expense in instructing LDG, managing the property yourself naturally comes with varying success, and it’s not uncommon for clients to seek our expertise later down the line, having felt the pressure and demand of being a hands-on Landlord.
Through working with LDG, you will also benefit from our 24/7 Emergency Helpline Service (available to Landlords and Tenants), fully vetted Contractors, quarterly detailed inspections, a bespoke property management system, access to legal support, and a knowledgeable and qualified team to ensure you are compliant.
Know Your Costs
Rental income should be sufficient to cover all of your expenses; however, it is advisable to have contingency plans in place to cover taxes and additional expenditures related to renting your property such as:
- Licensing & HMO
- Landlords’ Insurance
- Agency Fees
- Safety Checks in Line with Current Regulations
- Inventory Costs
- Redecoration (including potentially furnishing)
- Lenders’ Authorisation Fee (if applicable)
In addition to your typical rental costs, you should budget for unexpected eventualities, which can be expensive.
- Taxes, Bills & Mortgage Repayments During Avoid Periods
- Service Charges
- Duplicating Keys
- Accountancy Costs
- Bank Charges
Know Your Responsibilities
The law requires Landlords to keep up to date with the constant changing of Regulation, in order to avoid any tenant disputes, penalties or possible banning orders. We advise you to follow our Landlord Rental Guide as currently there are over 145 Acts and Regulations that apply to property. We have outlined below some of the key obligations for you.
You are required by law to maintain your property and undertake any major repairs to ensure your tenants reside in suitable living conditions. For a better understanding of these responsibilities you should refer to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 section 11.
Following our Landlord Rental Guide, you must ensure:
- Rented properties are safe and free from health hazards
- All gasand electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained
- The property meets the minimum Energy Performance requirements with an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) supplied.
- Tenants Deposits are protected within a government-approved scheme
- Tenants legally have the right to rent your propertyin the UK
- Tenants are given a copy of the most recent “How To Rent”Checklist at the start of the Tenancy
EPC – Landlords in England and Wales who are letting or re-letting their property are required to present an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to tenants. The EPC must be a minimum E band, otherwise it will be illegal to rent out the property (some properties e.g. new builds may be exempt).
Gas – Landlords need to ensure that every gas appliances and all gas pipework meets the required safety standards. Landlords are required to present a valid gas safety record of the property on an annual basis.
Fire – It is an offence to let a property with any furniture or furnishings that do not comply with fire safety regulations.
Smoke detectors – Properties built after June 1992 must have mains operated smoke detectors fitted on each floor and landlords are required to test the smoke alarms at the commencement of each tenancy.
Electricity – Landlords are not required to present safety certificates for all electrical equipment but must ensure that the property is safe and will not potentially cause danger.
Tenancy Deposit – Landlords are required to protect the tenant’s deposits with an approved scheme and must provide tenants with a prescribed form and the certificate at each tenancy renewal.
Health and Safety – The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is used by your council to make sure that properties in their area are safe for the people who live there. Inspectors look at 29 health and safety areas and score each hazard they find as category 1 or 2, according to its seriousness.
When you start letting your property, any profits will form part of your income and is subject to income tax. It is important that you advise HM Revenue and Customs, otherwise you may incur penalties. Seeking professional advice from an accountant is advised as they will appropriately advise you on what you can and can’t offset as an expensive. For instance, letting fees is an allowable expense.
You must ensure you have your mortgage lenders consent to let out the property. Some lenders will consider applications to transfer the mortgage onto a buy-to-let basis but we would recommend checking and, if they agree, they may make an annual charge which will be applied to your account every year while you continue to let the property. You cannot usually let your property if you purchased your home under the Help to Buy scheme.
Selective Licensing was introduced in 2006 to try to force rogue landlords to clean up their act and reduce socially unacceptable behaviour. It is mandatory to have a licence if you’re renting a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO). Furthermore, local authorities have adopted a discretionary scheme for additional HMO licensing to help deal with the problems associated with HMOs which are not already covered by mandatory licensing.
As a leaseholder, you will be obligated to adhere to the Lease (or legal agreement) set by the ultimate landlord (often referred to as the ‘freeholder’). The lease will outline any conditions you may have to meet before you to rent your property. Some freeholders require that you purchase a license to let on a yearly basis in order to keep a record of the tenants and their respective references.
Right to Rent and Immigration Checks
Landlords of properties throughout England must check that their potential tenant has the right to rent before agreeing to enter into a tenancy. Failure to do so could lead to civil penalties, as Landlords can face charges for illegal renting. Please note, ongoing checks throughout the tenancy may be required to stay compliant with the Act.
It is vital that the Landlord collects their rental payments on time, each month, with payment dates agreed with your tenants. Typically, for professional Tenants this falls towards the end of the month, as most people are paid at that time.
If tenants are in rent arrears, it is important to issue (and document) polite reminders that the monies are overdue. This may require you to keep in regular touch with your tenants, documenting dialogue and all the steps you have taken to recover the rent. As our Landlord Rental Guide points out, this is extremely important because you will need to provide evidence of your procedures should you need to take legal proceedings against them at any point.
Through our Property Management, LDG undertake rent collection on behalf of our clients. We also offer rent collection services for clients who wish to manage the property themselves, but want us to administer the accounting.
We also recommend Landlords consider acquiring rent guarantees to protect themselves against outstanding rent and legal expenses.
As part of our service, we undertake checks, known as referencing to ensure that your tenant doesn’t have a bad credit history.
Neglect & Damage to Your Property
Damages can, and often, occur when renting a property. This is usually accidental, but sometimes through neglect or as a result of your tenants (or their guests) behaviour. As an agency, we ensure an appropriate damage deposit is safeguarded to cover and protect our Landlords from these eventualities. If this isn’t safeguarded, Landlords can seek recompense for any damages that occur which do not constitute as reasonable ‘fair wear and tear’; however, this can be costly and time consuming, with differing interpretations.
Rights to Access Your Property
Landlords are entitled under legislations to gain access to a tenanted property to carry out repairs and statutory obligations such as Gas Safety Inspections, or to enter in the event of an emergency. Rights of access are however limited, as tenants have rights to ‘quite enjoyment’ which means tenants can refuse Landlords’ permission to enter, unless the Landlord can prove, without doubt that they had no alternative but to enter the property. To avoid issues, we recommend maintaining a good relationship and communication with your tenants, which can assist in gaining access, when required.
Problematic Tenants & How Best to Deal with Them
Most Landlords enjoy a positive experience when renting but problematic scenarios do sometimes occur. This can relate to causing damage, or being a nuisance.
Communication is key and it is important to retain a level head even under pressure. Communication should start with clear, polite but firm dialogue, explaining why their behaviour is unacceptable. Remember, tenants rely on satisfactory references, as it could severely restrict their ability to take a tenancy elsewhere, so tenants wish to retain a positive Landlord and Tenant relationship, and resolve matters swiftly and calmly.
If your tenancy agreement contains clauses regarding unacceptable behaviour, remind them of their responsibilities which they agreed to at the start of the tenancy. It might also be worth pointing out to them, that if problems cannot be adequately dealt with, you may be forced to seek possession of the property through the courts.
Evicting A Tenant
An “eviction” is a legal proceeding by which the landlord seeks to reclaim the rented premises. This could be for a number of reasons, such as; the Landlord requiring the property back, the tenant not paying rent or damage caused the property. It’s always best to be prepared, so be aware that the process can often be costly, lengthy and complicated.
A landlord only has the right to evict where the agreement with the tenant contains such a right, and/or where the landlord is able to rely on one of the ‘statutory grounds for possession‘.
LDG recommends that you seek professional advice in such circumstances, whether it be from your agent or your solicitor. We can recommend experienced legal practices if required.
Whilst there is a lot to be prepared for when investing in property, being a Landlord is a rewarding experience which provides many of our clients with an enjoyable and comfortable lifestyle. We have clients who have maintained relationships and friendships with their former tenants and even former tenants who have become Landlords or Clients, since we established in 1987! Being organised when it comes to property management is key, and you can feel comforted that by having LDG on your side, you will enjoy a rewarding experience too.
For further information or for a copy of our Landlord Rental Guide please contact the Lettings Team.
LDG Estate Agents
39 Foley Street, London, W1W 7TP
0207 580 1010