A guide for landlords to lettings rules and regulations

Are you thinking about becoming a landlord or are you one already? 

Sean Skelton, lettings manager at GSC Grays, Stokesley, provides advice to help keep all landlords up to date with lettings legislation

Deposits must be placed in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Any deposit funds must be placed in one of the three designated government backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes (TDS) within 30 working days of a tenancy commencing or the deposit being received. Failure to do so is a criminal act and may make the landlord liable for a fine at court of up to three times the deposit sum. Putting the money into a separate bank account doesn’t qualify. Failure to place a deposit fund within a scheme will invalidate any Section 21 Notice (eviction notice) which the landlord wishes to serve.

TDS has launched a Code of Recommended Practice. This Code of Practice sets out the recommended requirements which letting agents and landlords should meet as members of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Tenants can report poor housing conditions

Tenants can report poor housing conditions (eg no running water, excessive mould, etc) to their local authority. Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, Section 11, the landlord has a legal duty to ensure the property is kept in repair and in working order unless damage is caused through tenant negligence. If a landlord does not carry out repairs under Section 11 of the Act within a reasonable time frame, in certain cases the tenant has the right to withhold the rent until work has been completed. Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 risk assessment procedure – The Housing Health and Safety Ratings System (HHSRS) – assesses the risks to health and safety within residential properties and local authorities have the power to enforce action upon the landlord or letting agent to ensure the property is returned to a satisfactory condition.

Tenants are expected to keep a rented property in a ‘tenant-like manner’

Tenants are expected to look after their rented property and carry out small jobs around the property – subject to health and safety considerations. A landlord is not expected to repair or maintain items that a tenant has broken through negligence or misuse.

Tax evasion is illegal

Landlords who earn an income from their rental property must generally complete a tax return. Letting property is, in effect, running a small business and should be treated as such. HM Revenue & Customs can impose hefty fines on anyone discovered to be evading tax. Generally, the interest part of a buy to let mortgage can be off-set against the tax bill for the property along with various other concessions, however, following the recent Budget, this is set to change from April 2017. Check the HMRC website for full details.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

From October 2015 all privately rented properties must adhere to the changes outlined within The Deregulation Act 2015. Working smoke alarms are to be fitted to each property and carbon monoxide alarms are to be fitted in rooms that are classed as ‘high risk’. Further information regarding the changes can be found here.

Click here for lettings rules and regulations: part II

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