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Lettings - Ask the expert June 2017

We have always let our own cottages in the past, however there seems a lot of new legislation. How does this affect me?

Until five years ago if you could organise, ensure the right contract and paper trail were in place, there would be no reason why a landlord couldn’t let his own property. However so much legislation has been imposed on the letting sector in recent years, it is no longer worth the risk.

As of February 2016 landlords or letting agents representing them, have to make sure that their tenants have the “Right to Rent.” Those found to be leasing homes in England without their tenants, or the inhabitants of your property having a Right to Rent could be fined up to £3,000 per occupier. It's very important that ALL occupiers over 18 are checked, not just tenants.

From December 1st 2016, the government introduced additional penalties and offences relating to Right to Rent. Landlords now face potential imprisonment for failure to check the occupier's Right to Rent status. Having an independent agent carrying out these checks relieves the landlord, which can be particularly helpful where the tenant is desperate to live in the locality, a friend of a friend, or a local employee.

Furthermore, the Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination on grounds of race (this includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins) so landlords must not discriminate against prospective occupiers, as a result, landlords need to check everyone or risk civil penalties for discrimination later on.

Letting legislation has changed so quickly, there are simply too many traps for DIY landlords, from the mandatory Deposit protection, to regulations surrounding the installation and maintenance of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, plus gas safety certificates, Legionella Risk Assessments and it is anticipated that compulsory Electrical checks will be next on the list. At Balfours we can manage the letting process then, should you prefer, leave you to undertake the day to day management – we would simply provide prompts of necessary action.

Of course Welsh landlords must now operate under “Rent Smart Wales,” which means undertaking training to handle any aspect of letting. Today letting requires specialist knowledge which is continually being updated.

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