There’s a huge amount to know and a great deal of specific administration that needs to be carried out in order to let and manage a rental property in a legal and professional way. Here are five of the most common mistakes we see landlords make:
- Failing to reference tenants properly
A proper reference check should include: asking for 3 months’ bank statements, getting a reference from a previous landlord and carrying out a credit check. This is to be as sure as you can that the rent is affordable and the tenant has a track record of meeting their financial commitments – and any good tenant should not have any problem giving you permission to make these checks.
- Not giving their tenant the required documentation
You are required by law to provide your tenant with certain documents, including: ‘prescribed information’ relating to their deposit, a copy of the current gas and electrical safety certificates/records, and the government’s ‘How to rent’ guide. If you don’t, you are in breach of your obligations and may not be able to evict the tenant if you want or need to regain possession of your property in the future.
- Not keeping up to date with changes in legislation
It’s incredibly difficult for landlords to understand and keep up to date with all the national and local legislation that relates to letting a property. There are more than 168 national laws, plus regulations that are set at a local authority level (notably licensing and planning rules), and these are regularly amended and added to. So, unless you have a way of staying up to date – such as being a member of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and/or part of a local landlord scheme or association or have a qualified ARLA agent manage your properties for you- it’s very easy for changes to pass you by. That then leaves you vulnerable to falling foul of the law, which could result in penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.
- Not having a periodic check and maintenance schedule
Once a tenant has moved in, some landlords simply leave them to it as long as the rent is paid each month. Unless the tenant calls to report an issue, the landlord may not see either the property or their tenant for several years and get quite a shock at the state of the property when they finally see it at the end of the tenancy! Visiting the property every 6-12 months is essential, to make sure that there aren’t any maintenance issues the tenant may not have reported, and also to check that they are keeping it in a good condition and the occupiers are as per the tenancy agreement.
For example, a common issue in rented homes is surface mould, which can build up in areas where moisture collects and can’t escape, such as bathrooms and bedrooms.
Remember it is your legal obligation to maintain the property in good condition and if you have a buy to let mortgage, your covenants are likely to include keeping the property in good condition and free from defects. It's also likely to be a condition of your landlord insurance that things like drains and guttering are kept clear and functioning properly to avoid damage to the fabric of the property, and some policies may even require landlords to carry out inspections
- Not following the correct procedure for evictions
If things go wrong with a tenancy and it becomes necessary to evict a tenant, there is a specific procedure that needs to be followed. And all too often we come across landlords who have given their tenants notice but are unable to evict them because of an administrative error – they’ve either failed to give the tenant some required documents at the start of the tenancy or haven’t followed the correct process for giving notice. The result is that it takes longer to regain possession of their property, which can be very costly in terms of lost rent and legal fees.
Bearing in mind the huge changes to eviction procedures during COVID-19, it is worth making sure you know the latest rules and regulations.
Having us take care of your tenant and property all the way through the rental journey, via our Fully Managed service, can help you avoid all these potential pitfalls. Simply contact your local Reeds Rains branch to discuss it in more detail – or to chat with our experienced team about any aspect of letting.