Mon 16 Nov 2020
In this three-minute read, we look at the documentation landlords need to meet their legal obligations – and avoid messy disputes.
First-time landlords often make the rookie mistake of underestimating the amount of paperwork involved in letting a property.
Many assume that once the ink dries on a tenancy agreement, they’ve got the paperwork sorted – but nothing could be further from the truth.
Record-keeping is an integral part of a landlord’s duties and falls into two categories:
- Documents that you must keep. Landlords are required by law to keep records covering things such as safety inspections and deposits.
- Documents that it is wise to keep. Although not obligatory, these records serve as an unofficial insurance policy should a dispute arise. If you wind up in court, you don’t want to rely on a vague recollection that “you paid a guy who was either called Terry or Trevor sometime in 2019 to sort out a few maintenance issues”. Firm dates, times and details of conversations and actions provide a vital paper trail.
Here’s a checklist of documents landlords need to keep:
1. Gas safety certificate
Landlords are required by law to have gas appliances such as hobs checked every year by a Gas Safety registered engineer.
2. Electrical safety report
Electrical safety inspections must be carried out by a qualified sparky every five years.
3. Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TPS)
A landlord must place a tenant’s deposit in an approved TPS within 30 days of payment.
4. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Landlords need to get an EPC every ten years. A registered assessor must carry out the inspection, and the property must have at least an E rating.
5. Landlord registration
Some local authorities in England require landlords to sign up to a register. Check the rules in your local area.
6. 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).
7. Property inventory
An in-depth report of the property and its furniture, fixtures and appliances will help you resolve any quibbles over belongings or damage at the end of a tenancy.
8. Landlord insurance
A condition of most buy-to-let mortgages, landlord insurance covers you in the event of flood or fire and for legal claims if someone injures themselves in your property.
9. Repair works
Keep all paperwork relating to repairs carried out on the property.
10. Tenant inspections
Keep a record of when you visit the property during the tenancy, and any issues raised. Follow up conversations with an email outlining your discussions.
11. Right to Rent
A landlord must check that tenants have the correct immigration status to reside in the UK. Landlords must keep copies of all relevant documents.
When it comes to record-keeping, many landlords have good intentions but struggle to keep up over time. If you don’t have the energy or inclination to handle the paperwork that is part and parcel of being a landlord, a letting agent can do it for you.
I’m a pedant when it comes to paperwork and a pro at keeping tabs on tenancies. If you’d like me to help you manage your property, get in touch.