Accidental landlords, a new breed of landlord that lets out their property to avoid selling at a loss, are providing a welcome boost to the supply of housing at a time of very high demand for private rented homes, according to buy-to-let specialist Paragon Mortgages.
Common regulations in the private rented sector include:
Gas and electricity: Boilers must be checked annually by a Corgi-registered tradesman, who will issue a Gas Safety Certificate. Tenants should be given a copy when they begin the tenancy and within 28 days of an annual check. All electrical items and fittings should be checked regularly as landlords could be liable if a tenant is harmed by an electrical item provided.
Fire safety: If the property was built after June 1992, tenants must have an adequate means of escape and a mains-operated inter-connected smoke alarm should be fitted on every floor. It the property is a furnished let, furniture and furnishings made after 1950 must meet fire resistance regulations. The National Landlords Association has produced a Fire Safety Logbook, available from its www.landlords.org.uk website.
Regulator Reform (Fire Safety) Order: Landlords who own flats in a block are required to liaise with the managing agents and other homeowners to ensure that a fire risk assessment of the common parts is carried out.
Energy Performance Certificates: From October 2008 it became a legal requirement for landlords to make an Energy Performance Certificate of the property available to prospective tenants when letting a property. Failure to do so can result in a £200 fine and the landlord being prevented from marketing the property until the EPC is obtained. For further information on EPCs visit www.paragon-epcs.co.uk.
Tenancy deposit protection: From 6 April 2007, all deposits (for rent up to £25,000 per annum) taken by landlords and letting agents for Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales, must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme.
HMOs: Rental homes spread over three stories or more and occupied by at least five tenants in two or more households are classed as Houses in Multiple Occupation and require a license by the local authority. A comprehensive guide on HMOs is available to download from the Literature section of the www.paragon-mortgages.co.uk website.
Accidental landlords need to be aware of all of these aspects.