2015 brought new laws set to challenge residential landlords, and many are understandably unimpressed. The consequences of breaking the rules can be severe, so here is a quick round up of the rules and why not to break them.
Since 1 October 2015 landlords must ensure that there is a smoke alarm on each storey of a rented property, and a carbon monoxide alarm in each room that has a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. The landlord must ensure the alarms are working on the first day of any new tenancy, and a failure to comply could lead to a £5,000 fine.
From 1 February 2016 landlords must check that tenants have the right to stay in the UK. If a tenant doesn’t have the right to stay in the UK they do not have the right to rent, and letting to a tenant that doesn’t have the right to rent could result in a fine of £3,000.
When granting a new tenancy, Landlords must provide the tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate, a Gas Safe certificate (which must be renewed yearly), any electrical inspection reports (which should be undertaken every 5 years) and the prescribed information contained in the government’s leaflet DCLG: How to rent: The checklist for renting in England. A landlord who fails to provide this information may be unable to evict the tenant should they need to do so. Landlords will also be unable to evict a tenant who has requested repairs to the property, unless the repairs are adequately resolved.
These rules add to the existing obligations, including the need to protect tenant deposits within 30 days or face a penalty of 3 times the value of the deposit. They also arrive at a time when being a landlord is set to become less profitable. We have seen that buy-to-lets will soon incur a 3% stamp duty surcharge (from April 2016), there will be reductions in mortgage interest tax relief (from 2017) and a predicted rise in interest rates.
Landlords must have their paperwork in order. The advice, of course, is to keep a record of checks carried out at the start of a new tenancy, and ensure that compliance with the rules is reviewed regularly.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though. If you have a problem with a tenant or tenancy, help is at hand! [email protected] 01473 298193