From protecting tenant deposits to sorting insurance, this guide will help you be the perfect landlord - and stay on the right side of the law.

There’s an ever-growing labyrinth of dos and don’ts in the private rented sector. So if you’re a landlord – or considering becoming one – it’s important to stay on top of your legal obligations.

Together with ARLA Propertymark, the professional body for letting agents, we’ve pulled together nine top tips for landlords.

1. Do you need a landlord licence?

First things first. Check with your local council to see if you need a landlord licence to rent out your property. Legislation was introduced in 2006 and some areas have implemented selective licensing to clamp down on rogue landlords.

2. Stay on top of tenant checks

That means rigorously referencing new tenants to make sure they are reliable. This includes checking their credit eligibility, getting references from their previous landlords and ensuring they have the right to lawfully live in the UK. Remember that you risk a fine or even a jail sentence if you fail to carry out Right to Rent checks under the Immigration Acton 2014.

Read more in our handy Q&A on Right to Rent.

3. Protect tenants’ deposits

You must protect tenants’ deposits safely in a government-accredited scheme within 30 days of receiving it. And once you’ve done that, you’ll need to give your tenant the Deposit Protection certificate and Prescribed Information. You’ve got a choice of three schemes: Deposit Protection Service (DPS), MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

Find more details in our guide on deposit protection schemes.

Above: three-bedroom home to rent in Chiswick, west London

4. Provide a valid EPC

Make sure your property is up to scratch in terms of its energy performance – and hand a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to your tenant.

As of 1 April, 2018, your property must be rated at least ‘E’ in the EPC. If you’re rumbled arranging a new letting without ensuring your property is up to this standard, you may be fined.

In addition, since 6 April, 2018, you risk being banned from managing your property. That would mean your local council would take control of your property and collect the rent  - but you would still be liable for the mortgage and any other costs, such as maintenance.

More on How to read an Energy Performance Certificate and Energy Performance Certificates.

5. Do your safety checks

You are legally required to get all gas appliances in the property checked by a Gas Safe-registered engineer every year – and provide tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate within 28 days of the annual check.

But that’s not all. Fire alarms should be fitted on every floor of the property from the start, and carbon monoxide detectors must be in any room where solid fuel, such as wood or charcoal, is used. Test both alarms on the first day of the tenancy.

6. Draw up that tenancy agreement

It’s not a legal requirement, but it’s well worth getting a tenancy agreement drawn up and signed by both you and your tenants. That way, you are both clear on your rights and responsibilities.

Above: three-bedroom home to rent in Chiswick, west London

7. Carry out regular inspections – with permission

It’s a good idea to regularly check the state of your property. But you are legally forbidden from entering without the tenant’s permission. It’s best practice to give your tenants 24 to 48 hours’ written notice – and this should be stipulated in your tenancy agreement.

8. Get the right insurance

A good insurance policy will cover loss of rent, damage, legal expenses and liabilities.

Remember that most standard building insurers do not provide the protection you’ll need as a landlord so it’s worth hunting around for specialist landlord cover. If you don’t tell your buildings insurer that you’re renting out your property, you risk invalidating your policy.

9. Make the property ‘rental ready’

Think about who you are hoping to let your property to – and make sure the property is ready for them. If you are offering your property as a furnished home, remove valuable and sentimental items. Above all, it must be clean, tidy and safe.

Above: three-bedroom home to rent in Chiswick, west London

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