There have been an increasing number of developments in residential landlord and tenant law in the last few months and, understandably, landlords feel as though they are battling against increasing regulation. To help, we have put together five top tips to help protect yourself:
- Ensure you protect the deposit correctly. Within 30 days of receipt the deposit must be protected with a relevant government scheme and the prescribed information must be served on the tenant, or the relevant party, as explained in our earlier article. We recommend you obtain proof of receipt.
[NB since the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act on 1 June 2019, where the annual rent is less than £50,000, deposits must be capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent and no more than 6 weeks’ rent where the annual rent exceeds £50,000. Holding deposits paid to reserve a property are capped at no more than one weeks’ rent.]
- Ensure you serve an up to date EPC and Gas Safety Certificate on the tenant before the tenant occupies the premises. Best practice would be to serve these documents on the tenant before the keys are handed over. Ensure you have a record of when these documents were provided.
- How to Rent Guide – this is another document that needs to be provided to the tenant at the start of the tenancy. The Government updates this document on a regular basis and the most recent version can be found here. Always use the most up to date version.
- Since the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act, if a landlord or their agent retains a ‘prohibited payment’ as explained in our earlier article, the landlord will be unable to rely on a Section 21 notice. If you have retained a prohibited payment, we recommend you return this to the tenant as soon as practicable.
- If you are purchasing a buy-to-let property or taking over a tenancy from a previous landlord, we recommend you undertake the relevant due diligence to ensure the obligations are complied with. Recently, a new landlord who failed to correctly re-protect the deposit and serve the prescribed information once it had been transferred to their name, lost the ability to rely on a Section 21 notice. It is fundamental that you ensure you are aware of and comply with your obligations.