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Becoming A Landlord – What Are Your Legal Responsibilities?

Renting out a property is one of the best ways to make a profitable passive income. If done properly and you manage to get good, long-term tenants, as a landlord you can expect a healthy return on investment from a regular income source that can see you through to retirement.

However, it’s not just a case of sticking your property on the books of a letting agency and waiting for tenants to walk through the door. Whether you’ve just invested in a buy-to-let, or you’re planning to rent out a property you already own, there are some important legal responsibilities you need to be aware of.

Here’s a look at the legal regulations you’ll need to comply with when you become a landlord.

Safety Regulations

As a landlord, you need to ensure your property is safe to rent. Check for any signs of damp and mould and general wear and tear damage, and carry out any necessary repairs before the tenants move in. You’ll also need:

A gas safety certificate; all gas appliances must by checked by a registered Gas Safe engineer to ensure they are properly installed and running safely. An annual inspection must be carried out after that, and you must provide the tenants with a copy of the certificate.

An electrical safety check; this must be carried out before the tenancy begins to ensure all electrical appliances, lights, sockets and wiring is safe and comply with the Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations.

Smoke alarms must be installed on every floor of the property, and a CO2 alarm in any room that has a solid fuel burner. If the property is an HMO, fire alarms and fire extinguishers are also required.

If you’re renting out a furnished property, all soft furnishings such as beds, sofas, mattresses, and even cushions supplied by you, must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations, and must each have a “Carelessness Causes Fire” label attached.

Energy Performance Certificate

Before you rent out your property you are now required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a minimum rating of E. This contains information on typical energy costs, and recommendations on reducing energy consumption. It’s valid for 10 years and must be carried out by an accredited assessor.

Tenancy Deposit Protection

Once a tenancy agreement has been signed, and you receive the deposit from your new tenants, it must be placed in a Government backed, Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme (TDP). This applies to all shorthold tenancies in the UK.

Landlords Insurance

Although not technically a legal requirement, landlords insurance will cover you for extras such as fire, flood, and malicious damage which normal home insurance won’t. It can also protect you from rental payment defaults and tenant liability claims if they are injured while living in your property.

Also bear in mind, your mortgage company will insist that you have dedicated Landlords Insurance in place on a buy-to-let property.

For more information and advice on landlords insurance, contact iInsure365 landlords insurance specialists today.

Converting A Property Into Flats – What You Need To Consider

One of the most exciting elements of property development, is the prospect of converting a property into a block of flats.

The practice is becoming increasingly popular, especially in larger cities that have a high population of young professionals and students such as London, Oxford, Cambridge and Bath. Splitting up a property can secure you a very profitable short term income, as well as future capital gain if you decide to sell.

If you’re planning to invest in a block of flats conversion, then here’s what you need to consider before you start.

The Area

Before you start hunting for the perfect property, you need to find the right area. This will involve a lot of research on the current rental market and future re-development sites. For example, the new Crossrail and planned Crossrail2 links will transform the transport infrastructure of London, and increase commutability to the Capital. Any areas that are affected by the new transport links will appeal to renters, so these areas would be ideal for a block of flats conversion.

Building Regulations

You’ll then need to apply for Planning Permission. As you are intending to change the use of the building and turn them into separate living units, you’ll then need to apply for Building Regulations in addition to Planning Permission.

This covers structural changes such as putting up walls, installing bathrooms, kitchens, central heating, as well as separate services supplies (gas, electricity, water, drainage) and utility meters for each unit.

HMO Licensing

You’ll need to find out from your local authorities if your block of flats conversion is considered a multiple occupation property (HMO). If so, you’ll have to apply for an HMO licence, which covers extra legal responsibilities for landlords.

A new building that has been purpose built as a block of flats isn’t considered an HMO. However a house that has been converted into self contained flats may be regarded as an HMO.

Be aware though that each local authority seems to set its own standards and regulations in regard to HMOs. Even if your block of flats isn’t considered an HMO by them, they may apply other licensing and regulations. It’s always best to check with your local authority to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.

Insurance

Once the conversion is complete, you’ll also need to consider what type of buildings insurance you’ll need. Insurers consider two or more flats in the same building as a ‘block’. And although leaseholders or tenants will most probably have their own insurance in place, it’s highly advisable to take out specialist Block of Flats insurance.

Block of flats insurance covers the entire block and offers more cover than regular building insurance. This can include fixtures & fittings, rent cover, rent guarantee and public and employer’s liability.

All blocks present their own set of risks, so it’s important to choose a policy that’s tailored to your needs. For more information and advice on Block of Flats insurance, contact our experts today.

The Difference Between Residential and Landlord Insurance

When you rent out a property, either as a buy-to-let, or even a room in your house, you need to have the right insurance to ensure both you and your tenant are protected.

Even if you’ve got residential insurance, it won’t be enough. Renting out a property brings a whole new set of risks with it, and you need to be sure that your investment is as secure and as protected as possible.

Specialist landlords insurance covers a whole range of risks that your residential insurance won’t. What’s more, if you make a residential insurance claim on your rental property, chances are it will most likely be rejected. And although landlords insurance isn’t a legal requirement, if your property has a mortgage, your lender will insist you having the right type of insurance in place.

So what are the main differences between Residential Building and Landlords Insurance?

Landlord insurance covers everything your residential insurance does such as buildings and contents, however it can be tailored and extended to cover tenanted property risks such as:

Re-housing Costs/Loss of Rent

If your property becomes uninhabitable due to insured events such as flooding or fire damage, landlords insurance will cover re-housing costs. Your residential insurance won’t cover this. Landlords insurance can also cover non payments by defaulting tenants, while Unoccupied Insurance covers any void periods between tenancies.

Malicious Damage/Theft

Although residential insurance will cover acts of vandalism to your property, landlords insurance covers wilful damage caused by tenants, unlawful activities and theft.

It’s advisable to thoroughly screen tenants before letting your property, but there’s no 100% guarantee that your property will be treated with respect. Landlords insurance gives you extra peace of mind that if your property is mistreated, you’re covered.

Liability Cover

On the other hand, as a landlord you have a duty of care to your tenants. Residential insurance public liability will cover you if say, a tradesman or someone visiting your property is injured. However, it won’t cover any accidents and injuries to your tenants. Serious injuries from accidents such as trips, slips and falls due to loose tiles, water leaks, broken floorboards or ripped carpeting, could result in a hefty claim from your tenant. Without the right insurance, you could end up facing crippling costs that could easily see you end up in bankruptcy court.

Legal Expenses

As your rental property is considered a business, you’ll need the right kind of insurance for legal liabilities in the event that a tenant makes a claim against you, or for you yourself if you intend to take a tenant to court for non payment of rent.

Landlords insurance may not be a compulsory legal requirement, but are you prepared to take the risk?

As landlords insurance specialists we can offer a tailored policy to cover all your requirements.

Whether your property is in London, Bath, Oxford, or anywhere else in UK, call iInsure365 today on 01273 827090, or contact us online for a competitive landlords insurance quote.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMO’s) and their insurance implications

HMO seems to be the buzzword of the moment in the property industry. As a landlord, you will have no doubt have encountered the phrase. Each council has a different view as to what they classify as a HMO. In short, it is a property occupied by multiple unrelated tenants. We would suggest you consult your local authority website to see if your property is a HMO.

We’ve found insurers are very hesitant about the H word. Below we’ve listed the main points underwriters will look at when considering HMO’s.

  • How many tenants occupy the property? Insurers may insist properties with high numbers of tenants are insured for at least a certain amount.
  • Is it bedsit accommodation? Bedsits usually command a high rate.
  • Is cooking allowed in the bedrooms? Instant decline for most insurers. Cooking should be limited to the communal facilities provided.
  • Have you acquired the necessary licence from your council?
  • Have gas safety checks been carried out in line with regulations?
  • Do you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy or Shorthold tenancy with all tenants residing at the property?

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