There are a number of responsibilities that come with renting out a property, and it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed.
With this in mind, we have put together a simple guide to help you understand your obligations, avoid the common pitfalls of private renting and provide some guidance on Universal Credit.
For further information on the rights and responsibilities of private renting and how to deal with landlords and letting agents, you can visit GOV.UK (external link).
If any of your tenants are in receipt of Universal Credit (UC), see the UC guidance for landlords and letting agents, which provides you with a range of information including helping tenants with budgeting and requesting a managed payment to you.
Mortgage and insurance
If your property is mortgaged you must get consent from your lender to rent it out. Without consent you may be in breach of your mortgage agreement.
You will also need specific landlord insurance in place as normal household insurance does not provide the same protection.
Find out whether you need a licence
If you're renting out a property in Wigan Borough you do not need a landlord licence and there is no registering process unless your property is to be used as a House in Multiple Occupation.
So if your property has three or more storeys and houses five or more people who are not all related, you must get a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence from Wigan Council. Failure to obtain a licence could result in a fine of up to £20,000.
Tenancy agreement and deposit protection
You will need to give the tenant a written tenancy agreement. Assured shorthold tenancies (AST) are the most common type and they're available either online or at most stationery suppliers.
See the model agreement for a shorthold assured tenancy with accompanying guidance (external link).
Deposits for an assured short hold tenancy (AST) must be protected in a government approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme (external link). This ensures the process in place for returning a deposit and any disputes that may arise is fair. Schemes include:
Check the tenant's right to rent
You must check that a tenant can legally rent your property (external link). You will need to check and make copies of the tenant's documents (and the documents of any other adult living in the property) to verify their right to rent in England.
Safety and hazards
As a landlord, the property you rent out must be kept safe and free from health hazards, for example inadequate heating, damp and mould growth, dangerous stairs and exposed electric wiring. Things to keep in check:
Obtain an energy performance certificate (EPC)
You must have an energy performance certificate (EPC) (external link) for any property you let and a copy of the certificate must be provided to all prospective tenants. Failure to provide an EPC can result in a fine.
Repairs and maintenance
The law requires that you ensure your property is fit for human habitation at the start of a tenancy and throughout.
On Wednesday 20th March 2019, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act came into force, formalising this requirement and granting new powers to tenants to take court action should their landlord fail to maintain a property that is fit for human habitation and free from significant hazards.
You’re responsible for maintaining and repairing the exterior or structure of your property. This includes the roof, chimney, walls, gutters and drains.
Wiring, plumbing, heating and equipment for supplying water, gas and electricity must be kept in safe working order.
Check your tax implications
You should check with HMRC or your accountant to understand how tax is calculated on your rental income.
Online training in tax matters is available from HMRC. The e-learning course will make it easier for you to understand when and how to pay tax on property that you let out, which will help you get your tax right from the start.
You must follow rules on rent increases (external link) that vary according to the type of tenancy you have. Most private tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST).
Evicting a tenant
You must give your tenant notice in writing and get a court order before court bailiffs can be used to evict them. If the correct procedure is not followed it is an illegal eviction and landlords risk a fine or prison sentence.
Managing a property
Managing a property is not for everyone and you may prefer to use a letting or managing agent. See the following links for details of local agents:
Further information and support