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Landlord Resources: A Complete Guide to Renting Out Property

Finding success as a landlord starts with understanding your rights and obligations. In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know to manage your rental properties.
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Last Updated May 10, 2023

Being a landlord can seem daunting when you have to use specific documents, abide by landlord-tenant acts, and consider the tax implications for your rental income.

However, these challenges can be worth overcoming when considering the financial benefits of letting a property. Having a rental income can set you up for success and offer you financial freedom in the future.

This guide will discuss landlord-tenant acts throughout the United Kingdom, landlord responsibilities, and hiring a letting agent.


What are landlord-tenant acts?

The United Kingdom's landlord and tenant acts are laws that outline the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. As shown below, residential landlord-tenant acts vary between England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

England and Wales

England and Wales use the same landlord-tenant acts. Over time, numerous landlord-tenant acts have been passed into law to ensure the continued protection of English and Welsh landlords and tenants, including the following:

A highly referenced act is the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Landlords and tenants reference the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 because it outlines the rights and obligations of both parties, including who is responsible for the major and minor repairs to a rented home.

Many housing acts also apply to English and Welsh landlords and the standards they and their properties must adhere to. Luckily, the British Landlord Association has compiled a complete list of housing-related acts and policies for landlords.

Northern Ireland

The Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 is what outlines the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords. The order's primary purpose is to ensure safe and secure housing for households.

Unlike other regions of the United Kingdom with various landlord-tenant laws, tenancies in Northern Ireland are primarily governed by The Private Tenancies Order 2006. In addition, landlords must abide by the following orders to protect tenants from discrimination:

Scotland

In Scotland, tenancies are mainly governed by the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 and the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006. The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016regulates private residential tenancies and outlines the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants.

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 is relevant to landlords because it includes the Repairing Standard chapter. This chapter outlines the legal obligations of landlords to ensure that a rental property meets a minimum physical standard.

In addition, Scottish tenants are protected from discrimination by the Equality Act (2010).


What are a landlord's responsibilities?

As a landlord, you have a variety of responsibilities that go beyond creating tenancy agreements. Even if you hire a letting agentt, you're still legally responsible for certain obligations.

Landlord responsibilities are largely similar throughout the United Kingdom, but some details may vary among the different jurisdictions.

Landlord responsibilities in England and Wales

According to gov.uk, landlords in England and Wales must complete the following tasks to fulfil their legal obligations:

Landlord responsibilities in Northern Ireland

According to nidirect.gov.uk, landlords in Northern Ireland must:

  • Acquire an Energy Performance Certificate for all properties
  • Make repairs to the structure and exterior of the property as needed
  • Ensure that all heating and hot water systems are working properly
  • Ensure that gas and electrical appliances are operating safely
  • Maintain fire safety standards
  • Repair and keep heating equipment in working order
  • Maintain common areas in multi-occupancy dwellings

Landlord responsibilities in Scotland

Landlords in Scotland are responsible for maintaining a variety of different standards and tasks. According to mygov.scot, landlords must:


Do landlords have to register in the United Kingdom?

In England, most landlords are not required to register or obtain a landlord licence. One exception is landlords who are letting a property shared by a number of unrelated people on a room-by-room basis, also known as a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

These landlords must apply for an HMO licence. HMO licensing fees vary by county and city and are also influenced by the number of accommodation units in the HMO. Unlicensed HMOs are subject to unlimited fines.

In addition, if a landlord's property is subject to a local licensing system due to selective licensing, they may have to apply for a specific license with their relevant local office.

In contrast, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales require landlord registration. Registering as a landlord helps ensure that landlords fulfil their obligations and provide tenants with quality housing. To register as a landlord in Northern Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, select one of the following links:

In addition, if landlords in Northern Ireland and Scotland are letting an HMO, they must also apply for a licence.


How much notice does a landlord have to give before entering?

Across the United Kingdom, landlords must provide tenants with at least 24 hours' notice to enter for inspections or repairs. However, if a tenant has a private residential tenancy in Scotland, which is a tenancy that started on or after December 1, 2017, the landlord may have to give the tenant 48 hours' notice before entering the property.


Letting commercial property

Managing commercial spaces is not that different from managing residential spaces. Like with using residential leases for private tenancies, you should record all commercial tenancies by creating commercial leases.

Commercial properties have more variety than residential ones in terms of intended use. Residential spaces are homes meant for living while commercial properties can be:

  • Offices
  • Buildings
  • Retail stores
  • Restaurants
  • Industrial spaces
  • Warehouses

The different jurisdictions of the United Kingdom have varying health and safety guidelines for these different types of commercial spaces. For example, in Northern Ireland, commercial tenancies are primarily governed by The Business Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 1996. In England and Wales, commercial tenancies are primarily governed by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

When you own a commercial rental property, you need to have at least a basic understanding of your space and the specific regulations that apply to it.

What are a commercial landlord's responsibilities?

During commercial tenancies, the responsibilities of landlords include:

  • Making sure that the commercial space is complying with commercial building and fire codes
  • Achieving minimum energy efficiency standards for commercial buildings
  • Acquiring the appropriate commercial property insurance

In addition, you should continually upgrade and maintain your commercial space to attract long-term, quality tenants.


Hiring a letting agent

As a landlord, you can manage your rental property on your own or hire a letting agent. When you hire a letting agent, you pay them to keep your rental property occupied and deal with the renters.

What does a letting agent do?

You can assign a letting agent a wide range of responsibilities, depending on your needs as a landlord. When you hire a letting agent, you can work with them to determine their exact duties, such as:

  • Showing your rental property to prospective renters
  • Reviewing rental applications
  • Calling an applicant's references and conducting a background check
  • Collecting rent and handling late rent payments
  • Overseeing tenant concerns and issues

There are many pros to hiring a letting agent. For example, if they work for a letting agency, they may have access to valuable resources, such as established relationships with maintenance and construction companies.

How much do letting agents charge?

Most often, lettings agents have different levels of service that you can choose from. Generally, the level of service will dictate the amount your letting agent charges.

For example, you may want full management service that allows you to be completely hands-off. If a letting agent is providing full service for you, they may find tenants, conduct reference checks, and manage your rental property. According to Property Hawk, fees for full management service can start somewhere around 7% of rental payments and go all the way up to 15% in London.

In contrast, many letting agents offer a let-only service in which they will find a tenant to let your rental property. For a let-only service, it is typically a one-time fixed charge.


Stay organized

As a landlord, you set yourself for success by understanding the documents that you need, the relevant landlord-tenant laws, and the tax implications on rental income. When you take the time to learn about your obligations, you can prevent disagreements with your tenants and ensure your rental properties are not sitting vacant.

Whether you hire a property manager or own a residential or commercial rental space, staying organized with the right documents will ensure a smoother and more enjoyable tenancy for everyone. When you create positive experiences for tenants, they are more likely to respect your property and renew their leases, ultimately creating less work for you.

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