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Top Tips for Residential Landlords

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Edward Smith, from Levi Solicitors LLP, presents his legal column for Leeds City Magazine.

At a time where traditional investments and future financial planning (pensions etc) remain uncertain, many young people are now turning to the residential property market in order to secure their financial future. It is becoming increasingly common for people to purchase second homes and let them to tenants in order to leave (hopefully!) a mortgage-free property which can then be used to the benefit of the owner in their later life.

While many doing this do not own a large number of properties, the obligations on single-property landlords are no less stringent than those who let hundreds of properties through letting agents.

Below are some Top Tips for Landlords who are looking to let out a property.

1. Get your tenants to fill out a detailed application form prior to agreeing a tenancy. It is important that you know as much as you can about your tenants before signing them up.

2. Carry out checks against your tenant. Credit checks can be taken out which can highlight any previous County Court Judgments against your tenants which, for obvious reasons, might put you off letting the property to them. Similarly, you can ask for references from former landlords to make sure their history as a tenant is blemish-free.

3. Sometimes it might be appropriate to ask the tenant to provide a guarantor. A guarantor will, in the event that the tenant breaches the tenancy agreement, be liable in their place to make good the tenant’s defaults.

4. Take a deposit and ensure you protect it in a deposit protection scheme. The more deposit you are able to take, the more of a buffer you will have if the tenant breaches the tenancy agreement. There are strict rules and time limits about protecting rent deposits, and you must make sure you comply with all of these.

5. Ensure that you have a properly-drafted tenancy agreement (a solicitor can help you with this) and do not hand over the keys to the property until the tenancy agreement (and if appropriate, the guarantee) is signed by your tenant.

6. Ensure that you have appropriate landlord insurance in place.

7. Complete an inventory of the items at the property and take photographs showing the physical state of the property before the tenant moves in. You can ask the tenant to sign to confirm he/she has agreed to this being correct at the time if you wish.

8. You will need to provide the tenant with a copy of the energy performance certificate and gas safety certificate. If you haven’t provided these documents to the tenant you may struggle to remove him or her at the end of the tenancy.

9. Make sure that you have the relevant smoke alarms in the property as well as other fire safety equipment and ensure that these are tested on a regular basis.

It is not uncommon for landlords to encounter problems with tenants and vice versa and I would advise you seek advice from a solicitor if you do.

If you require legal advice and would like to speak to a solicitor call Levi Solicitors on 0113 2449931 or visit their website www.levisolicitors.co.uk

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