There's a lot to remember when your property comes up for rent. During the Ultimate Landlord Checklist webinar, Urban.co.uk's Adam Male, and the Landlord University's Polly Rivers provided a checklist of requirements to make letting your property as simple as 1,2,3... Listen back here:
You can download and print your own editable copy of the Ultimate Landlord Checklist here - a great way to start your property paper trail and make sure you are ticking all of the boxes at the start of every new let.
Q.Do I need to do a full inventory with pictures at each renewal of the same tenancy or is this only needed at the end of the tenancy whereby the tenant is leaving and has ended the tenancy?
A.Whilst you don’t have to carry out a full inventory at the renewal of the same tenancy, it can be a good idea to periodically update the inventory just to keep the information up-to-date, for your records. If you are renewing the tenancy, it would be a natural time to carry this procedure out.
Do make sure that you obtain your tenant’s signature for any changes to the inventory and pass a copy to them, as well as maintaining a copy for your files.
Q. Do we have the legal right to ask to see their bank statement?
A.You can request to see up to three months’ worth of bank statements. This can be useful to see if rent I being paid on time, a regular income is being received, or any significant outgoings may have an impact on your potential tenant’s ability to pay rent.
Q.Is it compulsory to have PAT test on fridge, microwave, and fire blanket in kitchen of a two-bed flat?
A.PAT testing is not compulsory, but it is best practice. If you choose to carry out PAT testing, this must be carried out on all portable electrical appliances – including a fridge and microwave – once a year. A fire blanket is required in a kitchen of a two bedroom flat. Make sure you provide your tenants with manufacturers documentation on how this should be correctly used.
Q. Is an EPC needed for an HMO? I have heard differing stories.
A.It’s not as clear cut as a yes/no answer! In a standard residential property, unless the property is exempt, you definitely need an EPC. However, HMO’s are slightly different:
- If you let rooms or bedsits, where your tenants share kitchens, toilets and/or bathrooms but all hold their own tenancy agreements, no EPC is required.
- If your property is a shared house/flat, with multiple tenants on a single tenancy agreement, you are required to provide one EPC for the entire property.
Failure to provide an EPC (if required) at the start of a tenancy as part of Prescribed Information would result in you being unable to serve a your tenant with a Section 21 notice should you need to.
Q. Does a child of a current tenant need a right to rent check when they turn 18?
A. Yes, every individual who uses your property as their primary residence over the age of 18 requires a Right to Rent check.
Once a child turns 18, you may want to include an addendum to the tenancy agreement, including them as a named tenant, even if they are not going to be contributing to the rent.
Q. If you are a distant landlord, can you expect your agents to carry out the legionella test and documentation at the beginning of the tenancy?
A. Your agent may be happy to do this, or there are third party organisations that are able to carry out the test on your behalf.
If you request your managing agent, or a third party to carry out the test make sure that you request a full breakdown of the test, results and a detailed invoice, explaining exactly what was carried out, when and where. This will form the basis of your auditable paper trail, and should you have to prove that you have taken steps to manage the risk in your property, you will have these documents a proof.
Q. Does the battery-operated alarm for every floor of your property include the loft please?
A. No - smoke alarms only needs to be installed on floors used for living space.
Q. What is the situation at the end of the tenancy if the tenant has not been given an inventory or evidence at the start? Can any claims be made for damage?
A. It depends on whether or not your tenant disputes your claim to withhold some/all of their deposit in order to pay for the damages. The adjudication of deposit disputes is based on the evidence that is provided to the adjudicator – each situation is assessed on the evidence provided, so if you are unable to provide any evidence it is unlikely that you will be very successful with your claim for damages.
A. Video inventories are becoming more and more popular – and anything that helps provide clear, concise evidence is beneficial to both landlords and tenants! However, whilst the technology is very useful, there are a few points to consider:
- Film can be very speedy – remember that the adjudicator will have to make a decision on condition based on what they can see.
- If the video glosses over a carpet/work surface, it could be difficult to assess the condition.
- If the film is shaky, or not clear, precise details will be hard to capture
- It is easier to exactly time/date stamp individual photographs.
Q. If a tenant has a licence to take in a lodger is the superior landlord responsible for R2R checks on the lodger or is it the tenant’s responsibility?
A. If a tenant sub-lets the property, with (or without!) your knowledge they are responsible for carrying out checks on any subsequent sub-tenants.
Make sure that they are aware of the requirements, as they will be liable for a fine if they don’t do the check correctly. Sending them an email with the requirements will not only give them notice of their responsibilities, but also provide a digital paper trail showing that you have provided the notified them should there every be an issue in your property.
Q. Does Right to Rent apply in Wales yet?
A. No – Right to Rent is only applicable in England, landlords in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland do not have to carry out the checks yet.
Q. Affordability check - is that the net income after tax?
A. No, it looks at the gross income that the tenant receives before tax.
To work out affordability, it is advised that you look for a tenant/s who has a household income 20 times the monthly rent of your property. For example, if your property has a monthly rental figure of £1000, your tenant/s would need a joint household income of £30,000 a year to pass an affordability test.
With regards to guarantors, they would need to earn 36 times the monthly rent (£36,000 for a monthly rent of £1,000) in order to pass an affordability test.
Q. What advice would you give for foreign students found by an agent on a let only basis?
A.Congratulations! Student can be fantastic tenants, and as long as you are well prepared and follow the Ultimate Landlord Checklist you should be well placed to have a seamless tenancy with your new students! The only hiccup you may have is that if your tenants are located abroad, a Right to Rent check might be tricky – you need to see your tenant’s ID in person in order to complete the check. If they have a university place, their university will be able to provide them with a letter that, along with their passport, will assist with the check. You will be able to arrange their tenancy conditionally, and carry out a digital check over a video conferencing software, such as Facetime or Skype. However, you will have to meet with them in person and carry out the check face-to-face before the tenancy starts.
Q. Do you need a new gas check if a new tenant moves in before the present one runs out?
A. You only need to maintain the gas safety check once a year, but you do need to make sure that when a new tenant moves in you provide them with the in-date gas safety certificate, as part of the Prescribed Information.
Q. Does the AST contract have to be witnessed, or just signed by the parties?
A. An AST doesn’t have to be witnessed, but does have to be signed by all named parties. A digital signature is suitable for signing an AST.
Q. A potential tenant I am currently considering has Indefinite Right to Remain in the UK. What documents do I ask him to produce?
A. It would be wise to request a copy UK Immigration status document endorsed with unlimited leave – this is one of the Group A documents, so is suitable on its own. A full list of the suitable documents is available here:https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa...
Q. Is the Right to Rent check for ALL tenancies starting from what date?
A. You should carry out Right to rent checks on most – although there are a few exceptions.
Local authorities social housing, care homes, hospitals and hospices are all exempt, as are students living within student accommodation and temporary holiday lets (less than three months). The regulations were introduced in February 2015, so you should be checking any new tenancies!
Q. If a third party does the right to rent check, am I still required to keep copies of their documents?
A. It depends if you have requested the third party simply carry out an admin role, or if they are taking liability for the check – you should check the details of your agreement with them. If they are simply carrying out the administrative function and undertaking the document checks for you, you will still be responsible for keeping a copy of your tenant’s documents safe for the duration of the tenancy and 12 month afterwards. If this is the case, make sure you are registered with the Information Commissioners Office. If the third party is holding liability for the check, you will not have to hold the data. But do make sure you check with them!
Q. I am certain that mydeposits Scotland said we have 30 days from the start of the tenancy to pay in deposit?
A. Since 2 October 2012 any new deposits taken from the tenant must be lodged within 30 working days.
Q. Do joint landlords both have to register with ICO?
A. Yes, if they are both handling tenant’s data.
Q. Do Right to Rent checks have to be carried out on guarantors?
A. No, just on all tenants (aged over 18) who are living in the property.
Q. Also, I understood that a Guarantor's agreement needs to be physically signed whereas an AST can be digitally signed. I wondered why there are different requirements?
A. A guarantor’s agreement requires a witness, whereas a tenancy agreement doesn’t. therefore a tenancy agreement is able to be signed remotely, via digital signature. This is also the case for legal deeds, such as the Deed of Surrender, which must also be signed in person. You can use a digital signature for documents such as the receipt of Prescribed Information and Inventory though.
Q. I let one student property for three tenants. I always get a referencing company to do a guarantor check on each of the three guarantors. The assured shorthold tenancy agreement that I use (NLA one) is a joint and several agreement which means (if my understanding is correct) that each guarantor is responsible for the whole rent, rather than simply their student's share. If I used the full rental figure for the affordability check for each guarantor, none of them would pass. My impression is that the students use the parent/relative with the least income to reduce their liability. Would you advise that I change my practice to ensure each guarantor has an annual income of 36 x the full monthly rental?
A. No, you are correct in the way you are working! In this instance, if each tenant is providing a guarantor, you are able to split the rent share responsibility between the guarantors in the same way that you split it between the tenants. For example, if you have two tenants paying 50% of the rent each, they each need to earn 15x the rental income – the household income simply needs to meet 30x the rent. If they both provide an individual guarantor they would only each need to earn 18x the monthly income.
Q. Am I correct in assuming that I and my husband (who co-owns the property and is a co-landlord with me) can view personal data but not keep it? When you suggest that someone else can do the check for us, are you meaning someone who is already registered with the ICO? Would this apply to letting in your own home?
A. To confirm, you do have to be registered if you are processing tenants data, under Data Protection Legislation (DPA). Processing is defined as obtaining, recording, holding, using, disclosing or even erasing data. Ultimately, the moment a piece of data enters your control (copying a passport to carry out a Right to Rent check, for example) you are processing it, so even if you are not planning on keeping a copy of the data, it would be advisable to be registered with the ICO.
I would imagine that any professional body who carries out the check for you (a managing agent for example) will be registered, however it is worth checking!
Q. Can I use digital signatures on any documents? Is there guidance on the NLA website on how to set this up? This would be a great facility to have.
A. No, you cannot use a digital signature on all documents. Certain documents, including those that have to be witnessed (such as a guarantors agreement) or a legal deeds (such as a Deed of Surrender) must still be signed in person. Documents such as a tenancy agreements, receipt of Prescribed information and inventories are fine to be signed with a digital signature though. There are a number of options available – we recommend Adobe e-sign or Signable, however there are plenty of other options on the market!
Q. I was taken aback at the fact that I need to register with ICO and wanting to get this correct. I followed up with the ICO - who were eventually clear that registration is needed BUT I was not convinced with their logic. “Processing" seems to have a wide interpretation beyond any definitions in dictionaries! I continue to be very confused and would appreciate the exact justification of why I need to register?
A. To confirm, you do have to be registered if you are holding or processing tenant’s data, under Data Protection Legislation (DPA). In this instance, processing is defined as obtaining, recording, holding, using, disclosing or even erasing data. Ultimately, the moment a piece of data enters your control (copying a passport to carry out a Right to Rent check, for example) you are processing it.
Q. I’m a little confused, with reference to PAT Testing, you said that it was for portable equipment, but on a course that I attended, the host said that "PAT" referred to the testing equipment and not the items tested. I was told that ALL electrical items that can be touched should be tested and that included "hard wired" items. Could you confirm what PAT stands for and what should be tested?
A. PAT stands for Portable Appliance Testing, and actually refers to the test used to check the safety of any electrical appliance that can be moved, rather than the appliance or the kit. With regards to the hard-wiring conversation, I understand that there can sometimes be some confusion over what is classed as 'portable' - sometimes large, heavy items such as fridges and washing machines are not tested as they are not deemed portable. However, as they are not hard wired into the property they are still portable (however awkward this may be!) which is why the assessor may have recommended testing everything, so as to guarantee that even the 'less portable' portable objects are not missed. Hard wiring should be tested with an electrical safety check, which is a different procedure.
Q. Regarding the C02 alarms are these required in rooms where there is a gas fire or in the kitchen if there is a gas cooker but has ventilation?
A. With regards to CO alarms, these are only required if you have a solid fuel appliance in place (coal, wood, oil, pellets) so you won't need one with a gas fire or cooker.
Q. when does new legislation on deposits commence?
A. With regards to the deposit legislation - nobody is sure to be honest! The legislation hasn't been formally announced, however the intention has been (in the Queens Speech). I would estimate that we would be looking at a Spring/Summer 2018 introduction at the earliest, but as Brexit is dominating the political timetable at the moment I would stress that this is not to be guaranteed.
Q. Even though the contractual rent is per calendar month does the deposit have to the equivalent of four weeks? and holding deposit one weeks rent?
A. The deposit will have to be calculated on a weekly basis, so yes, even though the rent is monthly you should calculate a four/one weekly deposit structure.
Q. With regard to checking the battery-operated alarm being checked priory to start of each tenancy, how does it work with hard wired fire alarms checked regularly twice a year professionally and manually which may not coincide with the start of a new tenancy?
A. With regards to the alarm checks, it is your responsibility as a landlord to check at the beginning of each tenancy. Further checks are great, and always good practice, but you must schedule a check at the commencement of a new tenancy too.
If you have any questions about the Checklist and how you can ensure that you are meeting all of the important legislation, the NLA Advice Lineis free for all members. For membership contact the NLA at 020 7840 8900.
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