Regulations that buy-to-let landlords need to follow

As a buy-to-let landlord in the UK, there are a number of rules and regulations that you must adhere to. Before making any investment in buy-to-let property, its important to read and digest these rules to become fully aware of the legal responsibilities. 

This article outlines the key rules applicable at the time of writing. However, the landscape is forever changing and you should always check the official Government website for the latest guidance. 

Deposits and fees

As a landlord, you must:

  • Not charge any letting/admin fees to tenants when they move in.
  • Not request a deposit which exceeds the value of 5 weeks rental payments.
  • Protect the tenants deposit in a government-approved scheme.

Safety 

As a landlord, you must:

  • Ensure that there are no serious hazards impacting the property, both at the commencement and throughout the term of the lease. 
  • Fit working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Smoke alarms must be placed on every floor whilst carbon monoxide alarms must be placed in any room which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance (e.g. coal or wood fire). Tests must be carried out to ensure these appliances are working prior to the commencement of the tenancy. 
  • Follow other fire safety regulations applicable to the type of property (e.g. homes converted to flats or purpose built blocks of flats). Links to the latest regulations can be found on the government website. 
  • Ensure that there are no problems with the properties utilities (i.e. electricity, gas and water supply). In order to prove safety in this regard, an annual gas safety check is required by a qualified Gas Safe engineer where the property has gas appliances. Further, an electrical safety test must be carried out once every 5 years by a competent and qualified person. 

Maintenance 

As a landlord, you must:

  • Continue to maintain the structure and exterior of the building, whilst your tenants will become responsible for the upkeep of the interior.
  • Where a tenant reports a necessary repair, the landlord should aim to carry out that repair as soon as possible. 
  • Maintain any appliances and furniture that you have provided as part of the tenancy. For example, if the flat is furnished and includes a fridge, the landlord would be responsible for repairing that fridge were it to stop working. 

Property access

As a landlord, you must no longer access the property without providing your tenant with reasonable notice (24 hours). This includes where access is required to carry out repairs which have been requested by the tenant. You are no longer entitled to enter the property despite the fact you own it without your tenants express permission.

Other legal requirements

As a landlord, you must:

  • Carry out the necessary checks to ensure that the tenant has a right to rent/live in England. In order to do this, you must request original versions of their acceptance documents. For example, a UK passport alone would prove an unlimited right to rent. However, there are several other documents which can be shown – links to full guidance are available on the government website linked above. 
  • Carry out an EPC check and ensure the property obtains a minimum band E efficency rating. If the property achieves a worse rating, you must take necessary steps to improve it prior to letting the property, unless a valid exemption applies.  
  • Obtain a licence for the property if required. For example, you would require a HMO license if you wish to let the property to more than 3 occupants.

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