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Holly Pendred, Head of Lettings

As a fully qualified lettings agent, having taken 4 residential lettings and property management exams to attain my ARLA Propertymark Level 3 qualification, I can categorically say that lettings legislation is NOT EASY.  I come across a number of landlords who are prepared to "wing it" and I also meet many who regret that decision due to hefty fines being imposed when they are caught out and even imprisonment for some of the more serious offences such as not adhering to safety regulations in your rental property.

I have been working in the local Uxbridge lettings sector for over 14 years and I not only had to study really hard to become qualified, but I have to continue my professional development by attending weekly training sessions with my lettings mentor, by reading all of the daily property press and watching numerous legislation webinars.  If you are a self-managing landlord and you are NOT undertaking this amount of ongoing study, then I seriously wonder if you understand some of the laws you may be breaking.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that landlords I speak to are making:

1. EICR - ensuring that there is a current and passed electrical inspection condition report on the rental property and that the tenant has been given this document at the outset of the tenancy.  I would hope that any landlord would already know that each tenant living in the property must be given a copy of the annual gas safety record at the outset of the tenancy, and annually thereafter.

2. CO and SMOKE DETECTORS - these must be tested on the first day of the tenancy - and by tested I mean not pressing the red button to check the batteries are working, but by using a smoke canister specifically designed for this purpose.  Whilst it is then the tenant's responsibility to ensure that the detectors remain in working condition (replacing batteries if applicable) it is down to the landlord to immediately repair any faulty alarms as soon as notified by the tenant or agent.

3.  RIGHT 2 RENT CHECKS - these must be carried out on anybody who will be living in the property, tenants, occupiers or licensees - and they can be carried out online until 31st October 2022 and thereafter (unless the date is changed) must be carried out face to face with the tenants.

5.  UNFAIR TERMS IN CONTRACTS - An assured shorthold tenancy is the tenancy used for any individual (not a company) who is renting a property exclusively (landlord does not live at the property) for their main home (not somewhere they live just for work) where the annual rent does not exceed £8333.33pcm (£100,000 pa - pure rent). 

This is governed by The Housing Act 1988 and constitutes a set of fair (to both parties) terms and if you change those terms to anything different, a court would deem them as unfair, if you had to go to court.  In which case they would automatically revert to statute, even if the tenant had signed the tenancy agreement. 

So please, do not change clauses;
do not remove the wording 'unreasonably withheld,
and do not change your statutory responsibilities under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 S11 - (a)to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes), (b)to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity), and (c)to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water.

I have prepared a checklist of items that you should ensure are carried out prior to the commencement of a tenancy and I am happy to send you this if you email me.

Holly Pendred, MARLA