HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has come under fire for the tactics it employs when attempting to ensure landlords are meeting their tax obligations.

Mike Down of accountancy firm Baker Tilly has described the authority's techniques as "shocking" and "scarily aggressive", highlighting that innocent landlords who have complied with the law have still been subject to unnecessarily hostile communications from the department.

"Clearly it's good to see HMRC cracking down on tax cheats, but we do have real concerns over what appears to be the non-risk-based approach of this campaign," he said.

"What's even more shocking is that telephone staff at HMRC are openly admitting that the probing letters are being issued without the department having first checked whether the landlord is in fact fully declaring the rents on their annual tax returns."

Mr Down indicated that HMRC should adopt a more considered approach that targets the relevant parties, relieving the pressure on landlords and ensuring that genuine tax cheats are caught.

"Surely it's time HMRC were more careful with their precious resources and invested time in carefully checking third-party information before sending what might be viewed as scarily aggressive letters to those who are fully tax compliant?" he added.

Landlords are required to adhere to a wide variety of regulations when letting property, and filling out the appropriate tax returns forms only a small part of their legal obligations.

From ensuring fire safety standards in their properties are up to scratch to placing tenant deposits in a holding scheme, it's vital that anyone in the lettings game understands their responsibilities.

It's also a sensible idea that they take steps to protect their own financial position, and this can be achieved through carrying out detailed inventories at the start of a tenancy and purchasing landlord insurance policies.

Such tactics can guard against losses and allow investors to focus on maximising their profits in the booming buy-to-let sector.