Renting is Regulation not Location

publication date: Jan 9, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Buying a property might be about location, but renting is all about rights & regulations! 

Landlords and Tenants, don’t switch off or ignore the information below as it’s essential to know your rights and responsibilities, or you will probably end up:-

  • Renting a property which is illegally let and likely to be unsafe
  • Letting a property illegally and could well be fined and/or jailed

And I am not kidding. 2013 was full of news, really for the first time, of landlords being prosecuted for things which may appear minor, but can cause serious health risks to tenants, such as damp or mould. As well as fines, some landlords have been jailed for converting properties to rental accomodation without the right planning consent, or in another case, fitting a boiler without a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you are renting a property as a tenant, it’s important you take responsibility for making sure you rent a property which is legally let from a decent landlord and the best letting agent. It’s really not difficult to do, you just have to:-

Check all agents are members of ARLA, NALS or the RICS, if they aren’t, then don’t rent from them and ask three questions at the viewing stage:-

  1. Can you see a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate? 
  2. Ask which tenancy deposit scheme your deposit will be protected in
  3. Check whether the property will be rented with at least a current gas safety certificate (if there is gas!) and ideally an electrical safety certificate, although this isn’t a legal requirement

So what do you need to know for 2014?
To begin with, whether you are a tenant or landlord, you need to know that all adverts for a rental property MUST highlight whether there are any fees over and above the rent. An example of fees include, referencing, admin charges, inventory or a contract.

Here’s an example of what the tenant fee information SHOULD look like: Belvoir Sunderland make all their charges clear to clients, as do Savills. All other good agents and landlords will do the same. 

Next, it’s important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or landlord. The government has produced a draft ‘tenants charter’ which clearly lays out what you both need to do. Tenants, it’s not the landlord’s job to change the light bulbs! Landlords, make sure you keep your safety certificates up to date, and if a tenant has a problem, check your contract to see what your responsibility is for fixing it.

And there is more coming up in 2014! 

In 2013, there were many changes to letting a property and in 2014 there will be more. Here’s what we have coming up so far:-

April 2014 – all letting agents MUST belong to a redress scheme such as the Property Ombudsman. Even if they do, in my view it's not enough to mean they are a good agent. The reason is, they aren’t necessarily ARLA, NALS or RICS agents, so they aren’t guaranteed to protect your rent through insurance.

Spring 2014 – all letting agents and landlords are expected to check that tenants in England are legal residents before they rent a property to them, and can be liable for fines if they aren’t.

Seek professional, independent and up to date advice on renting – it’s too complicated to try and do by yourself:-

Read our FREE Student renting guide, professional tenant checklist, how to let a propertyhow to let a room and how to choose a letting agent

For FREE, independent and up to date advice on buy to let and renting a home, sign up for FREE to Property Checklists. Join now to access our FREE property checklists, including:-

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All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of
Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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