Renting out your property may seem like an easy source of income, but it can be a legal minefield.
If there are disagreements between you and your tenant it can quickly become a drain on your time and resources.
The best way to avoid this is to take legal advice at the start from a Solicitor. As Solicitors, we can deal with all areas of Landlord and Tenant Law, and can assist with the preparation of Tenancy Agreements and also deal with any situation in the unfortunate event that a disagreement arises.
Before you even look for a tenant, a Solicitor can help you decide what the terms of the tenancy will be and can then incorporate your requirements into a written Tenancy Agreement tailored to your needs.
The biggest advantage of having a written Tenancy Agreement is that it sets out your rights and responsibilities as a Landlord in a way that is legally enforceable. It also provides certainty for the Tenant as to what they can and cannot do while they live in your property.
The most common form of tenancy for a residential property is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This is normally for at least 6 months and the tenant has fewer rights to stay at the end of the tenancy period. The Agreement will also include the start and end date of the tenancy.
Some terms of the tenancy which will need to be decided upon are:
1. the length of tenancy.
2. what restrictions you want to place on your tenants about using the property e.g. are they able to keep pets at the property?
3. the rent payable and whether this is to be paid monthly or quarterly? Is the rent to be reviewed during the tenancy term? Is the tenant to be responsible for all or certain outgoings in relation to the property e.g. Council Tax?
4. the amount of deposit the tenant will need to pay (this should be at least equivalent to 1 month’s rent, in addition to the first month’s rent in advance).
5. what are your rights to enter the property?
It is a good idea to give all these issues some thought before you visit your Solicitor and to take along any documents which may be relevant.
It will also be necessary to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the rental property. The EPC lasts for 10 years and contains a rating for the energy performance of the property and recommendations for improving it.
If you do have a disagreement with your Tenant, there are several ways that we can assist. Whether it is a simple case of checking your legal rights or amending your Tenancy Agreement, negotiating a solution or even going to Court, we have the knowledge and experience to support you.
For those considering renting out their property for the first time, you also need to ensure:
a. that your Tenancy Agreement is fair and clear. Write a detailed inventory of what is at the property, and take photos if necessary, and make sure you both sign it at the time. It may be a good idea to adapt the Tenancy Agreement so any inventory is attached to it.
b. having an Agent manage your property full time is advisable if you do not live locally. Check what Agent’s fees are likely to be – these are normally a percentage of the rental income.
c. if you do not have a Managing Agent, ask your tenants for references from previous Landlords and their Bank. You should also check their credit history online.
d. you always ask for a minimum of one month’s deposit. If you have any doubts about the Tenant, ask for more.
e. treating your Tenants fairly. Give at least 24 hours’ notice of a visit. Do not expect tenants to pay for re-decoration costs – you should allow for a certain degree of wear and tear while a property is being let.
f. you establish what your responsibilities are regarding the safety of the property. It is the Landlord’s responsibility to have all gas and electrical appliances checked annually by a registered tradesman. Install smoke alarms and use fire-resistant mattresses and furniture.
g. if you are letting a property in Wales, that you have registered on the Rent Smart Wales Scheme and have attended an accredited course in the event that you do not use a Managing Agent.
For further information regarding tenancy issues and agreements, contact one of our knowledgeable Solicitors in our Property Department on 01267 237441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.