Renting out your property can be a minefield, so having access to legal advice for landlords is a must.
Whether you’re a first-time landlord or you have a large property portfolio, getting a firm legal basis for your property business is an important step.
Here’s our guide to the five key moments when legal advice for landlords comes into its own…
Complying with your legal obligations
From ensuring you have the relevant EPC certificate and a gas safety certificate for your property to make sure you are registered as a landlord if you have properties in Wales, you’ll need to ensure your property business has a sound legal footing.
There are several things every UK landlord must do to ensure they comply with the law. They must protect their tenant’s deposit in a relevant scheme, ensure there are no health hazards at their properties, ensure all gas and electrical equipment is properly installed, fit and test smoke and CO2 alarms, and check a tenant has the right to rent a property in the UK. See more here.
If you have properties in Wales, Rent Smart Wales issues licenses to agents and registers landlords and all landlords with a property in Wales must be registered. Find out more here.
Setting up the tenancy properly
It’s important to ensure your tenants have valid contracts which include all the items you need for the roles of tenant and landlord to be clear.
You should include clauses about the consequences of nuisance behavior and non-payment of rent and include any rules about pets.
It’s important that your tenants are aware of their obligations in the agreement, too, so you need to make sure it is explained clearly to them and ensure they sign and date it.
Dealing with problem tenants
Knowing your rights in law is important when you have to deal with non-paying tenants, nuisance tenants, or those who won’t leave after the end of their tenancy.
You could make the situation much worse by acting outside the law, for example, so getting advice on your rights of access and possession is vital.
Evicting tenants and chasing debts
You need to know which notice would be best to evict your tenant, a section 8 or section 21 notice.
Section 8 relies on alleged breaches of tenancy agreements and section 21 is a no-fault eviction which gives a minimum of two months’ notice at the end of a fixed term.
If you rely on section 8 and the tenants solve the problem, such as paying rent owed or making the damage good, you may not be able to pursue your eviction process.
Talking to expert staff about the legal implications of each will help you make an informed choice.
When it comes to pursuing unpaid rent, you’ll need legal advice to take the matter to court and gain a payment order.
If your tenant makes a formal complaint against you.
Some landlords have found that tenants have made complaints about the safety of their properties, for example about gas boilers and electrics, unsafe windows, or problems with pests.
They may also make a complaint about where and how their deposit is being held.
Understanding your obligations in law and your rights as a landlord will help you navigate a potentially tricky problem.