An accidental landlord is an individual who has become a landlord without having the intention to do so. Some people plan to invest in property with a aim of yielding income, whereas others find themselves unexpectedly in a situation where they have to become a landlord.
For example, this could be because they need to move houses and are unable to sell their property so are forced to rent it out. In addition to this, those who are working overseas for a long period may also rent out their property as will those who have inherited a home or plan to retain for their children.
Becoming an accidental landlord can bring challenges as it is likely an accidental landlord will be unaware of landlord obligations and regulations due to not possessing prior knowledge or lacking the experience. This can make maintaining the property much more challenging.
All landlords, accidental or not have the same exact obligations to fulfil and failure to carry these out do have consequences
All landlords must place their tenant’s security deposit in a government-backed deposit protection scheme. This is to prevent any landlord from withholding the deposit from their tenant at the end of their tenancy without a legitimate reason. Provided the tenants meet the terms of their tenancy agreement, pay their rent and bills on a timely basis then the scheme will ensure that their deposit will be paid back to them.
It is a legal requirement for ever landlord to check their tenants are legally permitted to rent a property in the UK. In order to comply with this regulation, it is necessary for the landlord to obtain the relevant documents from the tenant to prove that they are eligible to live and rent a property in the UK. A list of acceptable documents can be found on the Gov.uk website.
Landlords are responsible for ensuring that their rental property is well maintained, in a good state of repair and also in a safe living condition for their tenants. This includes both external and internal upkeep.
At times qualified professionals will be required to carry out essential checks such as gas and electricity supply as well as testing any appliances. Moreover, fire safety standards must also be adhered to. Smoke alarms must be fitted to each storey of the property and any access to fire escapes should not be obstructed. Carbon monoxide alarms should also be fitted to any rooms with a solid fuel burning appliance.
It is necessary for all landlords of residential rental properties to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property and ensure a copy of this is available to their tenants. The EPC gives the property an energy performance rating between A – G, with A being the most energy efficient and G the least. The EPC takes into account factors such as insulation and double glazing, as well as the quality of doors and windows.
Any properties that are rated F or G cannot be rented out until measures have been taken to improve the rating to E or above. This is in an effort to combat energy consumption and carbon emissions, as well as preventing tenants from having to pay high energy bills.
Landlords in England and Wales may need to be apply for a licence in order to rent their property out. In England this depends on where the property is located. Some local authorities operate a licencing scheme to identify which landlords require a license. If a property falls within this area, a licence will be required in order to rent the property out.
The purpose of this scheme is to ensure that rental properties meet the necessary standard to be rented out.
A final obligation for landlords, whether accidental or not, is that they have a general duty of care towards their tenants, as well as any visitors to the property. If this duty of care is breached and a tenant or visitor is harmed as a result, then the landlord could be liable to pay compensation.
For this reason, it’s wise to take out landlord’s insurance that includes landlord liability cover.
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