With the buy-to-let market thriving, supply is struggling to keep up with demand. Taking this into account, tenants must be sure that they are happy with their landlord and not be rushed into taking the first available property.
The National Landlords Association (NLA) has put together a list of the top features a tenant should be looking out for from their landlord.
A recent survey from the organisation found that 96% of landlords have a good relationship with their tenants. However, there are certain measures that a tenant can take before signing any agreement to make sure that relations get off to the best possible start.
- Enquire as to whether the landlord is a member of a professional body, such as the NLA. Viable landlords should be members of organisations such as this and will therefore understand regulations regarding letting of private residential homes.
- Ensure that the landlord provides an official Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement, which is to be signed by both parties. The AST is a contract which should outline the length of tenancy, the amount of and when rent is to be paid, and any deposit details.
- Make sure that deposits are sufficiently protected. It is a legal requirement for landlords to protect tenants’ deposits in a Government-approved scheme. Furthermore, it is also necessary by law for landlords to inform the tenants of where and how their money has been secured. This is known as the Prescribed Information. Failure to provide this information will result in hefty fines for a landlord.
- If one is not provided, tenants should ask for a full property inventory from their landlord. This such include all furnishings and appliances, plus service history. Once again, both parties should sign and keep a copy.
- Ask for an up-to-date gas safety record to ensure that all gas fittings have had their required 12-month check. In addition, ensure that a registered Gas Safe registered contractor has carried out these checks.
- Check the property has a Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is also a legal requirement and will assist in managing allowances for energy bills.
- Obtain a list of emergency contact numbers, plumber, electrician etc., if the landlord sub-contracts work to other professionals.
Be aware of responsibilities
The chairman of the NLA, David Salusbury, said that by following the tips given, tenants can ensure a good relationship with their landlords from the infancy of their agreement. Salusbury said: “The majority of landlords and tenants get on very well and by following this advice, tenants will ensure they find a landlord who is aware of their responsibilities to their tenants.”
Landlords who are accredited by a scheme, such as one offered by the NLA, have not only proved they are well versed in the laws surrounding the private rented sector (PRS), but have also committed to ongoing development and learning.
“Ask if your landlord is a member of the NLA, or if they are NLA accredited,” advises Salusbury.