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HMO and buy to let rental troubleshooting FAQ

Posted by on January 17, 2011


Letting agents and their landlord customers are often have to pay huge sums in court for failing to maintain rental properties.

Some deserve their fines but many others are confused by the law and rely on advice from letting agents and other property professionals who may not know much better themselves.

The latest landlord to face court for a ‘clerical error’ relating to licensing a shared house in multiple occupation (HMO) had to pay £16,000 in fines and costs for letting an unlicensed property to students in Nottingham.
This is a guide to some of the most common concerns voiced by letting agents and landlords about their legal obligations:

Repairs

Buy to let landlords must ensure their homes are fit to live in. part of that responsibility includes maintaining the structure of the building as well as looking after gas and water pipes, the electrics and fixtures and fittings.

Gas safety

A Gas Safe Register approved engineer must check all gas boilers, heaters and cookers at least once a year. Tenants are entitled to a copy of the certificate issued by the engineer.
Insurance

Mortgage properties should have buildings insurance, often as a condition of the loan.

Other insurance covering landlord liability, rent guarantee or landlords property inside the buy to let are optional but advisable.
Protecting deposits

Any deposit or bond from a tenant should go in to a protection scheme. Deposit protection holder mydeposits.co.uk has reported a 65% increase in the number of letting agents using the service in 2010, compared with the previous year.

Shared houses

Homes of three or more floors shared by five separate households require a mandatory HMO licence.

Small HMOs – often converted flats and houses – shared by three households may need a licence from some councils.

New HMOs may require planning permission from the council as well.
Tenancy agreements

Every let should have a tenancy agreement that details the responsibilities of the landlord and tenant while the home is let.

Energy performance certificates (EPCs)

Every buy to let property or HMO should have an EPC by law – generally before a tenant moves in.

Source: www.lettingagentnews.co.uk

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