Compliance – the one word that can make even the most experienced landlord want to pull their hair out. This doesn’t need to be the case, however. Landlords’ compliance is there to protect both you and your tenants.
So rather than seeing it as a headache, see it for what it is – something positive to protect you, your reputation, and your business. And, remember, failure to comply could see you face substantial financial penalties or even prison.
Landlords and compliance
There is littledoubt that landlords have what can be seen as a bewildering amount of legislation and best practices to keep track of. These include but are not limited to rules and regulations around:
The Housing Act
Safety checks and risk assessments.
The other problem for landlords is that legislation is forever changing. For example, just recent updates include:
The implementation of the Tenant Fee Act
Changes to the How to Rent guide
Checking someone’s ‘Right to Rent’
The updated Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 etc.
That is without even taking in to account that the law may vary depending on where your property is in the country.
No wonder that recent government research found that just 57% of those who had been a landlord for three years or less provided their tenant with a How to Rent Guide.
How can you make sure you comply?
Firstly, it is essential to understand that being a compliant landlord is a two-pronged approach. You need to:
Implement a system so that, going forward, the compliance process is built-in
Ensure you stay compliant by keeping on top of legislation.
Here are some of the strategies we recommend to both implement best practice and ensure your business stays on the right side of the law.
Be aware of your responsibilities and rights as a landlord, so:
Take courses and enhance your skills with CPD (these can include both online courses as well as classroom events – the latter which may also enable you to meet local, like-minded entrepreneurs)
Keep up to date with legislation – sign up to membership of professional organisations such as the National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), UK property news websites and, other useful resources
Make a point of reading about landlords’ legislation – the Gov.uk site is a great place to find current law.
Always have a system to document compliance
Get to a position where you have a checklist of what documents should be issued and at what time during the whole tenant start-to-end process. You can go ‘old school’ and do this via a spreadsheet and ensure you work your way down the list.
Or, invest in property management software – such as the Go Tenant! system. This can automate and log essential processes for you (such as sending the latest How to Rent Guide directly via email to a new tenant).
The latter will make the process a whole lot easier, freeing up valuable time and giving you the peace of mind that certain aspects of landlords’ compliance have already been ticked off.
Use software reminders, automation and feedback systems
As we touched on above, there are systems you can use to get reminders, have automated processes, as well as get feedback from your tenant.
For example, with Go Tenant!:
You can get reminders for each property when it is time for an annual Gas Safe check to be carried out
An AST will be sent out for an electronic signature when you accept new tenant and stored safely if required later
The Tenant app allows you and your client to keep in regular contact – hopefully meaning no more 2 am telephone calls or texts and you are also tracking all your conversations.
Use electronic storage of documents to get compliant
Make sure all your documents and emails to your tenants are stored in one, easy to access place – so, stored online. That means that wherever you are, you can immediately see the status of a let property and its tenant in terms of processes or maintenance etc.
Landlords’ software can also provide a useful audit trail. You can see at a glance what documents have been sent electronically to your tenant, as well as showing if/when they opened an email and so on.
Of course, compliance isn’t just about ticking the boxes once a tenant is in-situ. Compliance should start way before you even think about getting a tenant. So, with HMO’S, for example, plan in the design stage what compliance is needed when creating the layout and draw/prepare detailed designs for your builders and construction team. That way, you shouldn’t have problems further down the line.
Being compliant needn’t be a headache. If you are feeling overwhelmed, whatever you do, don’t bury your head in the sand. This will leave you and your business extremely vulnerable.
If you are behind on making sure your property is compliant, schedule in some time to catch up. And if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask!
As a reminder, Go Tenant! is end-to-end property management software packed full of automated processes, one place storage, and useful reminders all designed to lead you to compliance naturally. Why not try it out free for 28 days now to see how it can help ease your compliance responsibilities?
And if you’d like to find out more about the latest legislation, and importantly how to stay compliant, sign up to our blog.