Letting out a property is quite a daunting business, especially if you have never dome it before. Many people find themselves in the position of accidental landlords; needing an income from a vacant property they have inherited or simply cannot sell. Others decide to enter the lettings market as an investment. There has been a lot of coverage recently about the number of people who prefer to invest in bricks and mortar rather than a conventional pension as a way of funding their retirement.

Whatever brings you to the decision to become a landlord it is very important to make sure that you comply with all the rules and regulations covering residential lettings. Hardly a week goes by without a landlord somewhere finding himself or herself in court for breaking the rules. Experienced landlord insurance clients will be aware of the following but we hope that newcomers will find it helpful.

Before you even think about advertising for tenants you need to make sure that the property is suitable for residential accommodation. Is it safe and does it have the necessary amenities? The safety of tenants is the major reason behind the regulations and things like damp and structural issues can put you on the wrong side of the law. If you are converting a building (from commercial to residential for example) you will need permissions and you will need to comply with the building regulations. Your local authority will be able to advise. Even if you are making relatively minor changes to a house or flat you need to be aware of the relevant regulations. A surveyor should be able to help. If you intend to let the property to multiple occupiers you need to check with your local authority’s environmental health department because you will probably need an HMO licence.

If you have a mortgage you will have to make sure the lender is happy with your plan to let out the home. If the property is leasehold you may need to contact your landlord as well. Your insurer also needs to agree to the proposal.

If you are letting the property furnished you need to make sure that furnishings and furniture comply with the regulations. Gas systems need to be checked by a Gas Safe expert and a safety certificate issued and retained. This needs to be renewed each year. Electrics need to be safe- have them checked and keep a record. Boilers must be serviced and chimneys swept.

Lastly, make sure that your local authority is aware of the tenant’s details so the Council Tax bill can be properly addressed and don’t forget to notify the utility companies. If the tenants should be paying the bills you need to make sure the utility companies have their details and the necessary meter readings.

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