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Your Legal Obligations as a Landlord

If you are looking to understand your legal and insurance obligations as a landlord, it might be advisable to speak directly to appropriate experts.

For example, specialist providers such as UKinsuranceNET will be able to offer you excellent information relating to buy to let insurance. Your local council or perhaps local government offices might also be able to offer exceptionally valuable help in areas such as registration.

What follows here is a very general overview and should not be interpreted as definitive legal advice.

Registration

In some parts of the United Kingdom, such as Scotland, it is now illegal to let out your property for the purposes of rental income, unless you have registered in advance with the appropriate local authority or government department.

The position here is fluid and evolving and such requirements now exist in certain English local authority areas also.

Taxation

In most circumstances, any income you obtain from property will need to be declared to HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) and it may be subject to income tax.

It would be an offence for you to obtain income through letting out your property or even part of it then subsequently fail to declare it.

Mortgages

If you are considering changing the use of a property from owner-occupied to let, any existing mortgage agreements may oblige you to obtain the permission of the lender in advance.

Note that this is a contractual obligation and failing to meet it may result in you facing some potentially serious legal difficulties.

Insurance

In some of those areas where legal registration is mandatory, there may be associated requirements for certain forms of insurance protection.

Wherever you are, some forms of landlord activities may also require this in situations where, for example, you are providing sheltered accommodation for people with special needs etc.

Health and safety

You are legally obliged, wherever your property is and whatever the prevailing registration system, to maintain your property in a safe and habitable condition for your tenants.

That includes things such as maintaining gas and electrical appliances in safe working order and to have them periodically inspected by professionals in line with timescales specified under law.

Commercial activities

In some parts of the United Kingdom a tenancy agreement is mandatory, whereas in other areas it is only advisory.

Whatever regime you are currently operating under, you should be aware that the law outlines certain things you may or may not do in relation to things such as rent, tenant deposits, notification of increases, eviction proceedings and so on.

The law makes no allowance for a landlord being unfamiliar with the appropriate legislation or those who may claim not to have understood or even read it.

If you wish to protect your interests, it is imperative that you spend some time researching the detail of these regulations as they apply to the area where you live.