Being a landlord – your questions answered

Posted: 4th Jun 2014

Unfortunately, being a landlord involves a little more than simply banking the rent each month.

Here are some of your more frequently asked questions on the subject – though please remember that this is not qualified legal advice.

Do I need a formal qualification to be a landlord?

No. Unlike professions such as a doctor or lawyer, a landlord does not need to be formally certified before starting to engage in the business of letting property and calling themselves a landlord.

However, there is a range of legal requirements that may apply to the way you conduct your business and it would be highly advisable to ensure that you are clear what these are before you commence your business operations.

Can I select the tenants I wish?

Typically yes and it may be highly advisable to be selective in the sense that you have taken all reasonable steps to check that your tenants are likely to prove trustworthy.

Note that some forms of landlord insurance may exclude certain categories of tenant (e.g. students or DSS etc) and it might be important to be clear that your target tenants are covered by your insurance.

Why do I need special landlord cover insurance?

There are two aspects to this question:

Legal assistance

  • your bricks and mortar buildings insurance;
  • contents and public liability cover.

A standard owner-occupier buildings policy may typically become invalid the moment you start using your property for the purposes of income generation through letting. In order to maintain cover and possibly to comply with terms of your mortgage, you may need to take out special landlords’ cover.

These policies also typically provide enhanced protection for landlords in areas such as contents and public liability cover.

Can I charge whatever rent I wish?

This is a complex question. In practice, the rent you charge and any increases you make may be subject to appeal and testing through legal processes (unless you are a resident landlord letting out rooms in your own property).

Space doesn’t permit a full discussion here but suffice it to say that you should research this area thoroughly before deciding on your rental levels.

Do I need anyone’s permission to let out property?

Potentially yes.

There are a number of parties who may have the right to be consulted and to have a say in your plans, including:

  • your mortgage provider;
  • your insurance provider;
  • your freehold owner if you are a leaseholder;
  • the local council;
  • the utility service providers;
  • your immediate neighbours (in certain circumstances);
  • the owners of your property if you yourself do not own it and are planning to sub-let.

Does my property need to conform to specified standards before letting?

Broadly speaking, yes.

You have a legal obligation to ensure that your property is a safe and fit place for your tenants to inhabit. That includes requirements, for example, for periodic gas safety inspections and an inspection of appliances prior to new tenants moving in.

Your local authorities and the government’s web site may be able to help by offering advice in these areas.