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5 pieces of landlord legislation you need to know before letting your property

It's fair to say aspiring landlords have a lot to consider before deciding whether to rent out a property they already own or purchase a buy-to-let investment.

With mounting landlord regulations surrounding the private rental sector, landlords need to ensure they remain compliant or risk heavy fines.

Landlord responsibilities

Landlords are already required, by law, to ensure the following:

* Tenants pass Right to Rent checks
* Furniture and furnishings are compliant with fire safety regulations
* Smoke and Co2 alarms are installed and working
* Relevant appliances pass Gas Safety checks and a certificate is provided for tenants
* Tenant deposits are protected in one of three schemes
* Electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained
* An Energy Performance Certificate is supplied to tenants

On top of all that, here are five key pieces of legislation landlords should consider before letting out a property...

1. Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation Act) 2018

From March 20 2019, a new law came into force giving tenants the power to take direct action against their landlords under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

Previously, the local authority could issue an environmental health enforcement notice to landlords if a rental property was deemed to be unfit for human habitation.

But now tenants will be able to take landlords to court if any failings are identified under the HHSRS criteria.

So, landlords should be aware of the greater potential for legal action now, not to mention the fact that, currently, there are no limits on the amount of compensation that can be issued to a tenant.

2. Tenant Fees Act 2019

One of the most publicised pieces of private rental sector legislation for years, the Tenant Fees Act could have a profound effect on landlords when it comes into force on June 1.

Currently, tenants foot the bill for things like referencing, inventories, check-ins and check-outs.

However, lettings agents will no longer be permitted to charge tenants fees like this after June 1.

Meaning landlords could face additional costs when re-letting their properties.

Martin & Co managing director Louise Griffiths said: "Martin & Co has already spent some consider-able time mitigating proposed losses in preparation for the tenant fee ban."

"That means we are able to limit any increases in costs to landlords and prevent steep rental hikes for tenants"

3. Client Money Protection

All lettings agents in the UK have, since April 2019, been required to register with one of six Client Money Protection (CMP) schemes.

On top of that, agents who hold client money are also required to:

* Do so in an account authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
* Hold appropriate indemnity insurance
* Have appropriate CMP procedures
* Obtain and supply a certificate of membership of one of the CMP schemes

While this provides landlords with a layer of protection when it comes to their money, knowing what to look out for when engaging a managing agent is key.

4. Energy Efficiency requirements

Regulations on Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into force in April 2018 for new tenancies.

That meant landlords renting out properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of below E were unable to legally let those homes.

Moreover, up until April 1 2019, properties not making the minimum E rating could be registered as 'exempt' under a series of criteria.

However, since that date, landlords with properties below the E rating must now make recom-mended changes up to a cost of £3,500.

If the property remains below an E rating after those changes, it can be registered as exempt if substantial evidence is provided by the landlord.

5. Immigration Act 2014

Since 2016, landlords and lettings agents have been required by law to check each tenant's right to rent property in the UK.

Introduced as part of the Immigration Act 2014, landlords or agents who fail to perform the checks, can face fines of up to £3,000 per tenant.

However, as recently as March, the High Court ruled that the Act breaches human rights.

Then, in April, the High Court found that landlords using a formal Home Office notice that identifies a tenant with no right to rent as a reason for repossessing a property could be breaching the Equali-ty Act.

Not only that, but with the UK's exit from the European Union still rumbling on, landlords should adopt a 'watch this space' mentality when it comes to Right to Rent.

Other important landlord legislation

We've outlined five pieces of key legislation here, but there are many more legal obligations land-lords need to be aware of.

The best way to ensure you are compliant is to speak to your local Martin & Co office, who will be able to advise what is covered under their Fully Managed service.

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