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Most of the UK's landlords will have actively entered the buy-to-let market and researched the responsibilities a landlord must take on when letting the property to tenants. However, the number of accidental landlords is on the rise, and these landlords may require further advice for landlords.
What is an accidental landlord?
An accidental landlord is someone who finds themselves with a property, either through inheritance or moving in with a partner and having a 'spare' property to dispose of. Although the first thing an accidental landlord will wish to do is sell the property and pocket the profits they hope will come their way. But sometimes property, for several reasons, is not easy to sell, and empty properties tend to run up costs (council tax, and possibly a mortgage and maintenance), so the decision is taken to let the property and use the rent to meet the costs.
What are an accidental landlord’s responsibilities?
There was a time in the past when being a landlord was just a matter of owning a property, finding a tenant, and collecting the monthly rent, and a landlord had hardly any responsibilities to the welfare of their tenants. This is no longer true. Today, there is a multitude of rules and regulations a landlord must adhere to, and we have outlined five of the things an accidental landlord should be aware of:
If the property has a garden it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure all pathways are safe. The care of shrubs and trees are also the landlord's responsibility, but mowing the lawn is the job of the tenant.
A landlord is usually responsible for the maintenance of the roof, exterior walls, windows, doors, drains and gutters. The upkeep of water pipes falls within a landlord's remit to make sure the property receives a constant supply of freshwater.
All electrical installations are checked by a Part P Registered electrician at least every five years, and a record of when these tests were carried should be kept.
An annual gas safety check should be carried out by a Gas Safety engineer who is on the gas safety register (http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk). The engineer will provide the landlord with a certificate of safety which must be passed onto the tenant.
It is essential an accidental landlord takes out a landlord insurance policy and is aware that this policy will likely include a 'Reasonable Precautions' clause. This clause means the landlord must take all reasonable steps and precautions to prevent accidents and losses.
However, as this term covers a broad and sometimes undefined area, it would be prudent for a landlord to take extra steps to make sure all reasonable precautions have been taken. For instance, a regular test of all fire and smoke alarms should be carried out, and a record kept of the time/date these tests were carried out.
A landlord should consider having a professional fire safety officer make a fire risk assessment on the property. This is not a legal requirement but will prove that all reasonable precautions have been taken.
Lack of communication is one of the most regular complaints tenants make against landlords. Once a tenant has made a complaint, the landlord must do their utmost to deal with the problem as soon as possible.
These are only some of the things an accidental landlord should be aware of – we could mention many more. If you're an accidental landlord and you need help or advice, contact us.
Photo Credit to George Rex