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When it comes to investing in buy-to-let property, many people see the potential returns and completely forget about the responsibilities that come with being a landlord. However, if you want to become a landlord then you have to consider the legal responsibilities.
From the very moment you have your first tenants, you have legal responsibilities that you have to adhere to because you have to ensure that your property is fit for purpose and that your tenants are living in a property that is safe and habitable.
So what do you need to remember?
First of all, when you agree to allow a tenant to live in your property, the property becomes theirs for the agreed period. This means that you are not entitled to access the property as and when you wish and if you do want access you have to get permission from your tenant first. Therefore, you have to remember that you simply cannot interfere.
The property has to be kept in a good condition and you are responsible for following the obligations that can be found in section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This includes ensuring that the structure of the property and exterior are kept in good condition, this also includes the supply of gas, electricity, sanitation and water. In addition to this there are gas regulations and many other regulations that you have to meet.
As a landlord you have to stick to the agreement that you have put in place. Should you want to evict a tenant you will have to go through the courts because they have a legal right to stay there for the agreed period and beyond. Should they stay at the property, they will not be classed as a squatter; they will still be seen as a tenant. You may have put an arrangement in place for the tenant to leave on the day that the tenancy agreement ends, however, if they decide they want to stay then you will have to serve official notice and then ask the courts for an order for possession.
Your property has to be fire assessed for any risks and then the correct remedial work and safety precautions have to be put in place. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms have to be fitted and tested and the fire safety regulations have to be followed.
Along with the responsibilities associated with the property and tenants, there are financial responsibilities. There is income tax to pay on any rental income and National Insurance should your property rental be classed as a business. There is also a requirement to get permission from your mortgage lender should you wish to rent out the property.
Responsibilities are always changing
The government have acknowledged that there is a housing shortage and they are doing all they can to solve the problem. However, for landlords with buy-to-let property investments, they have to be aware that regulations change. There is new legislation, tax changes and other criteria that they have to meet and so it is important that landlords remain alert to these changes.
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