From the outside, being a landlord can seem like an easy way to generate a substantial income from your property. You may have bought a house or flat as an investment, or you might have moved out of a place where you used to live but do not want to sell it just yet. In both cases, having a tenant can help you to cover your mortgage payments and/or give you a steady profit in the form of their rent payments.
However, as a landlord you have a number of responsibilities and obligations, both legal and ethical. There’s more to renting out a property than simply finding tenants, then sitting back at a distance as the money rolls in, and many new landlords find it to be a much more demanding occupation than they originally envisaged.
Make sure that you have the right insurance
A landlord is responsible for insuring the property they rent out, and for this they need specialised landlord insurance. Regular home insurance won’t be valid if you don’t live in the property yourself, but you are still obliged to insure the property and any contents that you provide against fire, flood, and accidental damage.
Make sure that you have a written tenancy agreement
Even if you’re renting your property informally, for instance to a member of your family for a token payment, you have a legal landlord-tenant relationship as soon as money changes hands, and the terms of the tenancy should be laid out clearly in writing for the protection of both parties. A standard shorthold tenancy agreement can easily be found online and is the most common form of contract between tenant and landlord.
Start off on the right foot
All landlords are now legally obliged to do a right to rent immigration check on any potential tenants before renting to them. When tenants pay a deposit, this should be placed in a government-approved deposit protection scheme. The tenants should then be given an energy performance certificate for the property, as well as a valid gas safety certificate, and a copy of the latest Government Guide on How to Rent.
Maintain the property
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to keep the property fit for living in. This includes making sure that gas, electric, and water supplies are in working order, and that repairs to the structure are carried out. You should also make sure that the property can be lived in while repairs are underway, so hire a dehumidifier to tackle mould and damp while draughty windows are being fixed or resealed.
Keep it safe
You must arrange for gas safety checks to be carried out by a gas-safe registered engineer every 12 months, and make sure that any furniture and electrical equipment that comes with the property meets required safety standards. You also need to make sure that there is a smoke alarm on each floor, and if the property has a coal or wood-burning stove or fireplace, to install a carbon monoxide detector.
These are just some of the basic responsibilities of being a landlord. While renting out property can make you a decent profit, it’s also a business venture with obligations that need to be taken seriously