Advice for private landlords | Your responsibilities and solving common issues

If you’re a private landlord, you’ll likely require advice at some point regarding your responsibilities and issues that may occur. With ever-changing legislation, it can be difficult to keep up and know where you stand. Understanding your responsibilities and rights as a private landlord is key to maintaining a successful relationship with your tenants.

This guide will provide guidance on solving common issues private landlord face, your responsibilities, and will explain the pros and cons of private letting.

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Read the advantages and disadvantages of letting a property privately as opposed to using a letting agent.

Read our guide to your responsibilities as a private landlord.

Find out the best way to handle a tenant who doesn’t pay rent on time.

Find out how to avoid tenant issues from emerging when renting privately.

We answer common questions and queries about renting a property privately.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of letting a property privately?

Choosing to be a private landlord can be tough, especially if you work full-time and have a busy lifestyle. You’ll need to be available to assist your tenants with issues they encounter in the rented property at all hours of the day and night. You must be reachable via phone or email whenever your tenants need you. Although this is a big responsibility, you will save costs associated with letting your property through a letting agent. Letting agent fees can quickly add up, and this is why many people are now choosing to go private.

Another benefit of choosing to rent privately is that you’ll have more control over choosing tenants and be responsible for the marketing of the property. This means you’ll have complete control over how your property appears online to prospective tenants

What am I legally responsible for as a private landlord?

As a private landlord, there are several things that you are responsible for. These include marketing the property and finding private tenants, creating a bills agreement, setting a rental price, maintenance of the property and dealing with complaints and disputes from tenants. Marketing your property without the help of a letting agent can be tough if you’ve never done it before. You should ensure that you take high-quality photos of the property that show off its full potential. Once you’ve done this, you should create a listing. Listing your property on several different websites can maximise your chances of success. Websites such as Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or your local classified ads can be a good place to start. Ensure you fill in all of the details about the property regarding the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and receptions rooms as well as parking arrangements and whether you’ll allow pets.

When setting a rental price, research other similar properties in the area and see what the going rate is. You should also consider costs that are associated with the property that you’ll need to pay out each month, for example, mortgage payments and bills. As you’ll also be responsible for property maintenance, it is worth factoring in costs that may be associated with this in your rental price too.

You can read more tips on letting a property here.

When creating a bills agreement, you should be aware that you will be liable for unpaid bills to utility companies if your tenants aren’t registered with them. Some landlords prefer to include utility bills in the rental cost to simplify things and avoid any future disputes. To avoid headaches that can come with offering a bills-inclusive agreement, you can use a bill splitting service to manage your utilities for you.

You can find out more about our bill splitting services here, or request a call back from us here.

Handling disputes and complaints from tenants on an assured shorthold tenancy can sometimes be intimidating. By communicating with your tenants effectively, you’ll minimise any issues arising. If disputes become unsolvable, you may need to consider mediation and potentially taking the dispute to court if this is not successful. To strengthen your case, make sure that you have written copies of all communication between you and your tenant. How to handle a tenant who doesn’t pay rent

How to handle a tenant who doesn’t pay rent

Dealing with a tenant who has fallen into rent arrears can be difficult. Be sure to keep a record of all rent payments that are paid to you as you may need to refer to these if legal action is required. You should always communicate with the tenant if rent is not paid to see if there is an easy solution. For example, if your tenant is out of work, you may want to consider temporarily reducing the rent payment cost.

If a tenant doesn’t communicate with you, one option is to send your tenant a formal demand in writing. If this isn’t successful, you may need to write to their guarantor. After 21 days without receiving payment, you should send a final letter to both the tenant and their guarantor to inform them that you will take legal action if the rent is not paid.

You can read more about how to handle a tenant who doesn’t pay rent here.

 

How to avoid tenant issues as a private landlord

You can avoid issues regarding rent arrears or problem tenants by creating a clear rent agreement that outlines what you expect from your tenants and what they should expect from you. You should also conduct a full reference check on any prospective tenants before allowing them to move into the property. You should aim to follow up any conversations you have with your tenants in writing to make sure there is a written trail of communication in case you need to refer to this in future.

Contacting your tenants as soon as you feel there may be an issue with rent or anything else is advisable when attempting to minimise the chance of disputes or bad relations. Another great way to minimise tenant issues is to use a bill splitting service to ensure that bills are always paid on time.

Frequently asked questions

What is specialist landlord insurance, and why might you need it for your rented property?

Although landlord insurance isn’t a legal requirement, it can be beneficial. It can protect you against a variety of scenarios, including rent losses, legal dispute costs, costs relating to thefts from tenants and much more.

Are you renting to students? Read our guide to getting student landlord insurance here.

How do you reduce the risk of problem tenants?

Ensure that you obtain references for each tenant.

Who pays council tax, the landlord or the tenant?

The tenant is responsible for paying council tax unless they are a student or are exempt in another way. Be sure to obtain proof of council tax exemption from tenants, as if you are unable to prove that your tenants were exempt from paying council tax, you may be liable to cover the costs.

How do you meet your legal obligations concerning gas safety?

Make sure a gas safety check is conducted annually on all appliances and flues by a qualified professional and keep a record of these checks. You’ll also need to make sure gas pipework, flues and appliances such as the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm are maintained and repaired as necessary.

If you do provide extra services, can you recover the cost from your tenant?

You can recover the costs of additional services from your tenants if this is detailed in the tenancy agreement. You cannot charge tenants for extra services at the end of their tenancy without prior agreement.

Related content

What to do if a tenant doesn’t pay rent

Solving common landlord-tenant issues

 

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