The basics of being a good landlord
Being a good landlord may appear straightforward from the outside, but in today’s rapidly evolving private rental sector it is a challenge keeping on top of changes in legislation. With over 140 laws and 400 regulations to comply with, it can be a tricky task for landlords to get everything just right. In this guest blog the National Landlords Association (NLA) share their insights into the basics of being a good landlord.
Complying with landlord legislation
As well as ever-changing national legislation, local authority requirements relating to the private rental sector often differ from council to council, contributing to the complex nature of running a buy-to-let business. Issues can range from selective and additional licensing to waste disposal and restrictions on planning permissions. Requirements are constantly changing and are often poorly communicated by those introducing new regulations. The NLA policy team, however, is among the first to know of any changes, providing updates to members in e-newsletters, online learning resources and through our network of representatives across the country.
Staying on top of the relevant regulations is a necessity for all landlords. Failure to do so could result in a dispute with local authorities, a hefty fine or even a prison sentence. Even seemingly simple things, such as not providing a gas safety certificate before a tenancy begins, or completing necessary repairs, can make it harder for you to regain possession of your property if needed, even if you use the section 8 possession process.
If you are unsure about the basics of legislation for landlords, attending a course like the NLA Foundation Course could help. As a landlord, your essential responsibility is to ensure your tenants live in a home that satisfies all the legal requirements, and to conduct yourself professionally, in compliance with UK law. During our one-day landlord training foundation course, we will take you through the laws, regulations and liabilities of the landlord business.
The tenant relationship
Ensuring you get the right tenant is another tricky piece of the landlord puzzle. Establishing a positive relationship with open channels of communication is vital and should start as soon as you meet at the property viewing. Your tenants need to trust you to do your job as a landlord as much as you need to trust them to care for your property. While checks (such as tenant referencing and Right to Rent) are a must, how you treat your tenants from the outset can lead to a long and stable relationship. Tenants who are happy in their home are more likely to take better care of it and stay longer, reducing the likelihood of void periods and the expense of finding new tenants.
Similarly, if you have a good relationship with your tenants, they are more likely to come to you proactively if their financial circumstances change. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and your local authority aren’t obliged to tell you if your tenant is on Universal Credit, but any delay in getting the first payment can result in rent arrears. However, if your tenant has alerted you to the situation, you can put measures in place to help your tenant get back on their feet and continue paying their rent. The NLA Telephone Advice Line (a benefit of full NLA membership), can help with any questions you have on this, and we work with the DWP to provide our members with the most up-to-date information on Universal Credit.
At the end of the day, being a good landlord comes down to two things: ensuring you are fully compliant with the law and having a good relationship with your tenants. Joining the NLA gives you the best possible chance to succeed in both – from access to The Knowledge Network, unlimited advice line help, landlord development courses, downloadable forms and online learning resources – we’ve got all the tools to help you run your lettings business successfully. As the UK’s leading association providing support for private residential landlords, serving 40,000 members nationwide, the NLA is well-placed to know that being a landlord is a lot harder than it looks.
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