Red tape needn't be daunting for landlords

For new landlords, the red tape can at times seem impossibly confusing. About 70 Acts of Parliament, and innumerable orders and regulations apply to buy-to-let nowadays. But the situation is, in fact, a lot simpler, say the organisations that represent the sector.

Only two documents need to be provided to the tenant to legally let an unfurnished unit - a properly drafted tenancy agreement and a valid gas safety certificate. The only other legal requirement is to take two forms of identification from the tenant to comply with anti-money laundering regulations.

If the property is furnished, there is one addition: the soft furnishings must display labels showing they have been fireproofed.

Property professionals tend to dismiss the anti-money laundering regulations as an unnecessary irritation, but today's standard tenancy agreements are regarded as strong protections of the rights of both landlord and tenant, and the safety rules have helped to push up standards in an industry with a poor history for customer service.

"All the legislation been for the benefit of the market," says Caroline Cope of the Association of Residential Letting Agents and a director of Simmons & Sons. "You can see the standard of property going up."

She harks back to the 1970s when landlords were virtually unregulated and the private rented sector was dominated by slum landlords. And after the Ronan Point disaster, when the corner of a tower block in East London fell off after a gas explosion, no one disputes the need for a current gas safety certificate.

"With things like the gas and electricity checks, specialist firms soon spring up to do the work at reasonable cost," Cope says. "It is a bit of paperwork, yes, but it is not difficult." An electrical inspection is also advisable and can usually be done by the gas inspector for a combined fee.

Some lesser legal requirements deal with financial irregularities. Anna Cuthbertson of Jackson-Stops & Staff points out that every tenant must provide two forms of identification (usually a passport and a bank statement) to comply with the Money Laundering Act. Landlords based overseas must provide a Non Resident Landlord form if they want the rent passed on without tax deductions.

"The only legal requirement that is a bit silly is the Money Laundering Act," Cuthbertson says.

The legal documentation is about to get more complex, with the arrival of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) this year and Home Information Packs (HIPs) for rented properties next year. It is also likely that electrical safety certificates will become compulsory.

Letting agents are now uniformly backing the TDS, partly because it removes them from an awkward position as middle men in many disputes over deposits.

Chris Town of the Residential Landlords Association, is concerned by the tide of regulation coming into force in the next few years, particularly for owners of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). "People are getting snowed under, especially by the HMO licensing forms, which come to about 30 pages for each property," he says. "Energy performance certificates [in HIPs] are coming soon, which will be another source of problems and it is likely to cost £200."

But help is at hand. Copious advice, including ready-drafted forms, are available on the websites of landlords' associations and the Government.

Association of Residential Letting Agents, www.arla.co.uk

Residential Landlords Association, www.rla.org.uk

National Landlords Association, www.landlords.org.uk

Department of Communities and Local Government, www.communities.gov.uk

Be prepared

* Legal requirements

Tenancy Agreement (Landlord and Tenant Act);

Gas Safety Certificate (Gas Act);

Tenant identification (Money Laundering Act);

HMO registration if appropriate (Housing Act);

Fire safety labels on soft furnishings (Fire Safety Regulations).

* Soon to be legal requirements

Tenancy Deposit Scheme documentation;

Home Information Pack (with Energy Performance Certificate).

* Good practice

Inventory;

new accounts for utilities;

references;

credit check;

mortgage consent form;

insurance certificate;

non-resident landlord form (if appropriate).

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game