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Government regulations
In the last few years of the Labour Government and the Coalition which followed it, a whole raft of legislation which affects the sale and letting of property in the UK. Some of it is good, though the majority of it was pretty stupid, but you as a landlord you still need to know about it.

How do Government Regulations affect me as a landlord?
There are now numerous pieces of legislation that as a landlord you need to be aware of when letting property.
They are as follows:

1) Annual GasSafe Registered gas inspections
2) Annual Electrical safety inspections
3) Houses of Multiple Occupation Regulations
4) Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
5) Furniture Fire Safety Regulations
6) Tenancy Deposit Rules
7) Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms regulations
8) Mandatory (Right To Rent) Immigration Checks
9) Supplying tenants with ‘How To Rent’ government booklet

Annual Gas Safe Gas Inspections and Certification
All rental properties connected to the gas with any gas appliance must by law be annually checked by a GasSafe gas engineer. A certificate must be retained by the landlord and a copy supplied to the tenant.

Annual Electrical Inspections
It is important to ensure that all electrical installations and items you supply such as kettles, irons etc are in good working order. However, unlike with gas there is no current legal requirement to have an electrical safety certificate.

Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
A property is classed as 'A House of Multiple Occupation' if it falls into one or more of the following categories

• an entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
• a house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities
• a converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self contained (ie the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households
• a building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies
• in order to be an HMO the property must be used as the tenants' only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges.

If a property you own satisfies any or all of the above criteria, then as a landlord you will need a licence, granted by the local authority. In order to be granted a licence you will have to satisfy a number of requirements, fire door provision, cooking facilities etc etc.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
Who looks at these? However, you will have to have one. In fact, any property offered for rent after 1st October 2008 has required an EPC. They are basically a certificate, again supplied by a registered inspector, detailing the energy efficiency of your property. They should cost between about £80.00 and £150.00 depending on supplier and number of bedrooms, and last for 10 years.

Furniture Safety Regulations
All upholstered furniture that is included in rented accommodation has to comply with the ignitability tests contained in the Furniture (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. Furniture first supplied before March 1993 can be included in property rented to tenants who were in residence on 1 January 1997, but must be replaced when the property is let to new tenants. Furniture manufactured in compliance with these regulations will be marked with a permanent label stating that it has been tested.

Tenancy Deposit Rules
A good piece of legislation, designed to minimize landlord / tenant disputes over the refund of the security deposit. Until this legislation became law, landlords or their agents were able to simply retain the tenants' deposit and when it came for the tenants to leave there were many cases of unscrupulous agents and landlords unfairly witholding all or part of the deposit.

Since March 2007, if you let a property, you must do one of two things. Either you must place the tenants' deposit into one of the government's approved schemes, such as the TDS, OR insure the deposit with an approved insurer. In either case the people actually holding the deposit will act as arbitrators between landlord and tenant in the event of any dispute over the return of the deposit.

New Stamp Duty Land Tax increases for buy-to-let properties
From April 2016 George Osborne (remember him?) decreed that all properties purchased as additional homes or for investment carry an ADDITIONAL 3% on all the thresholds for Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). For example, between £250,001 and £925,000 the marginal rate of SDLT due for first homes will continue at 5% but for buy-to-let and additional homes it will be 8%.

For all up-to-date regulation check out the Government website.

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