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Documentation & Record Keeping – Landlords Beware

Today we take a look at the documentation landlords need to meet their legal obligations – and mitigate possible disputes.

Sometimes Landlord’s can make the mistake of underestimating the amount of paperwork involved in letting a property. Sadly, it’s not just about agreeing the tenancy agreement and getting it signed.

Record-keeping has increasingly become integral to a landlord’s duties and can be summarised as:

  • Documents that must be kept. By law it is a requirement to keep records covering the likes of safety inspections and deposits.
  • Documents that are recommended to keep. Any documents that offer you an audit trail and a degree of protection should a dispute occur. For example: general maintenance and repair matters, payment details. Although not compulsory these records may serve you well if you find yourself in court so firm dates, times and details of conversations and actions could prove beneficial.

Here’s a selection you should consider keeping:

  • Gas safety certificate – gas appliances are required by law to be checked every year by a Gas Safety registered engineer.
  • Electrical safety report – recent legislation has meant the need for electrical safety inspections by qualified electricians every five years.
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TPS) – A tenant’s deposit must be placed in an approved TPS within 30 days of payment.
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – In order to rent a property there must be a valid EPC in place. Lasting for a period of 10 years, certification is carried out by a registered assessor. Currently a property must be rated E or better.
  • Landlord registration – Some local authorities in England require landlords to sign up to a register, so be sure to check the rules in your local area.
  • Fire safety – Keep all paperwork relating to smoke alarms (you need one on every floor) and carbon monoxide alarms (you need one in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance).
  • Property inventory – key to dispute resolution at the end of a tenancy, a comprehensive report relating to the condition of the property and any furniture, fixtures and appliances will help resolve any issues relating to damage.
  • Periodic inspections – if you visit the property during the tenancy be sure to maintain a record of the visit and any issues raised. Follow up the visit with an email outlining your discussions and agreement.
  • Right to Rent – there is an obligation to check that tenants have the correct immigration status to reside in the UK with copies of all relevant documents retained.
  • Landlord insurance – offers cover in the event of fire, flood and other selected risks as well as against claims if you are held liable for someone injured within the property. Worth checking as may also be a condition of your buy-to-let mortgage. (where applicable)

Here at Martin & Co, it’s in our DNA when it comes to paperwork and keeping tabs on tenancies. If you struggle with the amount of paperwork or just don’t have the time available to you, let us help you stay legal, maximise your returns and protect your investment.

Call our Lettings team today, we are here to assist.

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