Tessa's Ten Top Tips for landlords on the legal aspects of preparing a property to rent

Property in Cambridge
  1. Make sure that you have obtained any necessary permission for letting. For example from your leaseholder if the flat is held on a long lease, or from your mortgage company
  2. Make sure you have any necessary planning permission. This may be needed if you are converting a property to an HMO (i.e. a house in multiple occupation). So it is something you should check out if you are going to have more than two tenants who are not members of the same family, in the property.
  3. If you are going to do any building work to the property, check to see whether you need approval under the building regulations (your builder or architect will usually do this for you). Building regulation approval and planning permission are not the same and have to be applied for separately!.
  4. If there are any gas appliances at the property you will need to comply with the Gas Regulations. The appliances will have to be checked by an engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register, who will give you a certificate. The check must be done before the tenants go in and annually thereafter, and the tenants must be given a copy of the certificate. Further information can be obtained from your local Health & Safety Executive.
  5. You will need to comply with all the various product safety regulations. All furniture provided must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations. This means that all soft furnishings, e.g. sofas, padded headboards, cushions and cloth covers on seats, mattresses, etc must be fire retardant and carry the appropriate label. Also, under the Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations, any electrical equipment provided must be safe. If the items are not new, it is a good idea to have them tested by a bona fide qualified electrician. Make sure also that plugs are properly sleeved and that there is no bare or damaged wire on leads. Further information can be obtained from your local Trading Standards Office.
  6. You must fit smoke alarms in all storys where there is living accommodation and a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms with a solid fuel burner.  These need to be tested on the first day of the tenancy.
  7. Although it is not a general legal requirement at present (unless your property is an HMO), you should get the electrical wiring regularly checked, as you will be held responsible if it is found to be defective. Note that if you want to let to students, the students union will usually require all properties on their list to have an annual inspection report from an electrical contractor who is a member of the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contractors (NICEIC). HMO properties will need to have their properties checked and get a certificate every five years. Landlords will need to give tenants an Energy Performance Certificate before they move in..
  8. If the property is an HMO, you will also have to comply with the HMO management regulations, and any additional requirments imposed by your Local Authority, plus the fire safety regulations. Check with the Housing section of the Enviromental Health department of your local authority for more details. It may be advisable for you to consult a professional fire safety expert to carry out a fire risk assessments.  If you are renting bedsits, you will also have to deal with the Heat Network Metering regulations.
  9. Make sure you have adequate insurance cover. Note that general household insurance will not normally be sufficient. There are specialist policies available for landlords. The best value policies are often available at special rates to members of local Landlord Associations. Check out also the insurance page in our suppliers section.
  10. Keep records of all work done, all receipts (e.g. for items bought and any repair and other work done), and any certificates and guarantees. It is a good idea to draw up a list of all furniture (making sure to include all upholstered items), electrical equipment, and general consumer products in the property, with a note of their general condition, and to check this over every time the property is vacated and re-let..



Members can read FAQ and articles on all the points covered here.



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