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Who Should You Consult Before Letting Your Property?

Before you can let your property, you need to inform a number ofparties.

Your Mortgage Lender

If you have a buy to let mortgage, then obviously there is no need to inform the mortgage lender, although check the mortgage agreement as some lenders do not allow tenants who are claiming housing benefit. If you have a normal residential mortgage then you should inform the mortgage lender, some lenders may charge a slightly higher interest rate if you let your property. It is extremely unlikely that you would ever be refused permission to let your property. If you bought a property to live in and then was subsequently transferred to work in a different area, or perhaps moved in with a partner, you would not be expected to leave a property unoccupied.

Your insurance company

If you don’t inform them that you have let your property, you may not be covered in the event of damage, fire or theft in the property.

Your Freeholder

If you have purchased a leasehold flat, you will need to inform the freeholder that you are letting the property.

HMRC

If you are a new property investor you need to notify HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) immediately of your new income source.

The Regulations

There are some legal requirements you will have to comply with as a landlord. This section introduces some of these responsibilities. The law states you must maintain the property and undertake any major repairs that are required. This includes anything that affects the structure and exterior as well as the electrical, heating, hot water and sanitary installations.

Landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the accommodation is fit for human habitation ie; not damp, safe and in good repair. Premier Lets and Sales will ensure your property complies with current and any new regulations as they are introduced.

In addition, there are special rules that apply to soft furnishings, gas and electrical safety, tenants with disabilities and shared houses. These rules can be found below.

Gas Safety

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 say landlords must ensure that gas appliances, fittings and flues are safe for tenants’ use and that installation, maintenance and annual safety checks are carried out by a Gas Safe registered installer. A certificate is provided annually of which a copy must be given to the tenant. Wood burners are required to have a carbon monoxide detector fitted. For further information visit www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg285.pdf

Electricity Regulations

The Electrical Equipment and Safety Regulations say you must ensure that the electrics are safe, with operating instructions and safety notices supplied before a letting commences. It is not compulsory to have an electric safety report done before you let your property but by having one prepared you will safeguard yourself should there ever be a problem. Properties built over 40 years ago with the original wiring should always be checked as should any properties where there are visual signs of damage to wiring, old type wiring or old style switches or sockets.

Any supplied appliances should also be checked carefully for damage to wiring and all appliances should now be fitted with a moulded plug. If an appliance is very old we suggest you replace it.

All houses in multiple occupancy (HMO’s) need to have a mains electrical safety check every 5 years.

Disability Regulations

Landlords should make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to their property to accommodate a disabled person. These may include installing handrails but would not include installations such as stair lifts.

Houses In Multiple Occupation (HMO’S)

These shared houses have to be licensed under special rules, which require that the property meets certain extra fire and electrical safety standards. These rules also set a limit to the number of people who can occupy a property. Whether or not you need to get a license depends on the size of the property and varies by council, ask your local authority’s housing department for more information.

Tenant Safety

Landlords have a common law responsibility to ensure that their property is safe and does not cause injury or damage to tenants, neighbours or visitors (even trespassers!). Landlords need to check that pathways and stairs are safe before letting the property.

Building regulations state that it is mandatory for all new buildings after June 1992 to be fitted with mains powered linked smoke alarms. These also need to be provided for Houses in Multiple Occupation.

Apart from the special regulations set out above, you have a duty generally to make sure that the property and everything provided in it is safe. For example there should be no missing rungs in ladders, step ladders with faulty locking devices, or slippery carpets.

Legionnaires’ Disease

Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterium which breeds in wet areas at certain temperatures. It can be found in hot water heaters, showers, humidifiers and hot tubs. The disease is extremely rare in residential properties in England but quite common in hotter countries and can be fatal.

To reduce the risk, all properties should:

Furnished Properties

If any furniture is left in the property you have a duty to ensure that it is maintained and repaired should it become faulty. The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) Safety Regulations 1988 apply to items such as beds, sofas, cushions (including cushions supplied with garden furniture) but not to carpets, curtains or bedclothes. Basically, all these items must comply to the fire regulations and have the appropriate labels attached.

More information can be found at www.firesafe.org.uk/html/Legislation/furnregs.htm but we have trained staff who can advise you regarding this. Be aware that any items that do not comply have to be removed from the property and cannot be stored or sold to the tenants at the rented address.

Move onto Part 3 – Setting up the Tenancy Move onto Part 5 – EPCS & Summary